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All I want for Christmas is a Healthier Brain

All I want for Christmas is a Healthier Brain

If a "healthier brain" is on your holiday wish list, you're in luck. That's because cranberries–a staple at most holiday feasts–are actually good for your brain.

Studies show that cranberries protect brain cells from free-radical damage that impairs cognitive and motor functions. According to an article in Psychology Today by Hara Estroff Marano, "Aging animals given cranberries showed actual improvements in normal age-related declines in working memory, reference memory, balance and coordination." In other words, says, Marano, "They were able to keep on learning."

In fact, when it comes to preserving brain function, cranberries are so powerful they can even reduce impairment following a stroke! In a 2003 study, researchers discovered that by exposing neurons to a concentration of cranberry extract, there was a 50 percent reduction in brain cell death. Catherine Neto, a lead investigator in the study says, "Cranberries have the potential to protect against brain cell damage that occurs during a stroke," adding, "It may not stop a stroke from occurring, but it may reduce the severity."

This is good news for many Americans, since as a nation we consume more than five millions gallons of jellied cranberry sauce every holiday season. Even John Lennon must have liked cranberries since he confirmed in a 1980 interview that, at the end of the song Strawberry Fields Forever, he can be heard repeating the words "cranberry sauce."

What does this mean for you and your family this holiday season?

If you're into cranberries, check out these quick and easy cranberry holiday recipes. Or these.

And if you really did put a "healthier brain" at the top of your holiday wish list, we admire your wisdom. And while cranberries by themselves may not be the single solution, they're definitely a tasty start.