Adding This to Your Breakfast Could Slash Dementia Risk, New Study Finds

You may want to consider supplementing your diet with this fruit.

Many of us grew up hearing that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. By literally "breaking the fast" that you observed while sleeping, the first meal preps your mind and body to take on the rest of your day—and the cup of coffee certainly doesn't hurt. Now, new research has found that adding one fruit to your morning meal could help lower your risk of developing dementia. Read on to find out what researchers suggest adding to your plate to decrease your chances of cognitive decline.

READ THIS NEXT: Drinking This Popular Beverage Slashes Dementia Risk, New Study Says.

Other studies have looked into how different foods affect your brain health.

bowl of oatmeal
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Dementia currently affects nearly 55 million people worldwide, per the World Health Organization (WHO), and that number is only anticipated to grow with the aging population. Recent studies have found that eating processed foods may up your risk of dementia, while another study found that getting more vitamin K through leafy greens, fermented foods, or certain meat products can stave off cognitive decline.

Breakfast foods have also been analyzed, with one study suggesting that eating high-fiber meals in the morning could slash your risk of Alzheimer's disease—the most common form of dementia—by more than a quarter. Now, you may be able to add another food to your high-fiber oatmeal to really pack a punch when it comes to lowering your chances of developing dementia.

This bold berry has known health benefits, and may boost your brain function.

fresh red cranberries
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A study published in Frontiers in Nutrition on May 19 found that consuming the equivalent of one small cup of cranberries daily improved both memory and brain function.

Like other fruits and veggies, cranberries are rich in flavonoids, study author David Vauzour, PhD, MSc, senior research fellow in molecular nutrition at the University of East Anglia in the U.K., told Medical News Today. According to Vauzour, the potential of cranberries has not been thoroughly studied, even though they contain beneficial flavonoids like anthocyanin and proanthocyanidins. Increased intake of these plant compounds—also found in drinks like tea, coffee, and red wine—has previously been linked to health benefits, showing associations with lower dementia risk and slower rates of cognitive decline, Vauzour said.

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Study participants consumed cranberry powder twice a day.

older adults taking cognitive tests
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Researchers sought to investigate how cranberries affect cognitive function, studying 60 healthy older adults between the ages of 50 and 80 over the course of 12 weeks. Throughout the study, one group of participants consumed sachets or freeze-dried cranberry powder, while another group consumed sachets of a placebo powder. Participants were instructed to take the powder twice a day, once in the morning and once at night, and to not change their normal diet in any other way.

Those who consumed the cranberry powder had significant improvements in visual episodic memory performance, meaning their ability to recall something previously seen. There was no observed effect on an additional 13 measures of memory, cognitive function, and spatial orientation. But the group who consumed cranberries also significantly decreased levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, or the "bad" form of cholesterol.

To see how cranberries affected these functions, participants completed cognitive tests before and after the intervention. Urine and blood samples were also provided before and after the study, with the latter used to determine cholesterol levels.

If you enjoy fruits and vegetables daily, you're already on the right track.

man eating healthy breakfst
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Results from the present study are promising, but not too surprising, experts said. As Kristin Kirkpatrick, MS, RDN, founder and CEO of KAK Nutrition Consulting LLC, explained to Medical News Today, this largely has to do with cranberries' distinctive coloring. "Other studies have shown that the deeper the hue of a plant, the more benefit and phytonutrients it has," she said.

Adding cranberries to your diet can be as simple as mixing them into your morning oatmeal or cereal. If you don't want the freeze-dried variety, your best bet is to reach for actual cranberries that still have their skin and fiber, Kirkpatrick said. Cranberry juice may not be the best option to benefit your brain, as an older study found no positive effect of this intervention over six weeks in older adults with normal cognitive function, the study authors noted.

Per Medical News Today, Kirkpatrick also recommends avoiding products and supplements with added sugar, and Vauzour further suggests consulting your doctor before starting regular consumption, due to cranberries' potential effect on blood-thinning medications. The study lends credence to cranberries as an effective lifestyle intervention, but researchers noted that larger studies are needed to better understand whether these positive changes would translate to a population of adults who already suffer from cognitive impairment.

READ THIS NEXT: Drinking This Makes You 3 Times More Likely to Get Dementia, Study Says.

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