A US study has found preliminary evidence that cranberries may reduce brain-cell damage associated with stroke.
The findings, presented at the 226th national meeting of the American Chemical Society, suggest that cranberries can aid recovery from stroke—particularly in its earliest stages where the most severe damage usually occurs.
Damage reduced by up to 50%
Researchers used the brain cells of rats for the study. After placing the initial cells in tissue culture, millions of cells were grown and then divided into different treatment groups with varying concentrations of cranberry juice. Under simulated conditions of stroke, exposure to cranberry juice was found to have a statistically significant effect in reducing brain cell death—diminishing damage by up to 50% in some cases.
Researchers still do not know the specific phytochemicals that appear to be responsible for the protective effect of cranberries. However, they believe that they may belong to a class of potent antioxidants called anthocyanins, which are common in both types of berries and are also responsible for giving the berries their characteristic dark color.
Although animal and human studies are needed to confirm the findings, the study offers a compelling reason for recent stroke victims and those at risk for stroke to consume cranberries.