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J Hum Nutr Diet. 2017 Jun;30(3):260-274. doi: 10.1111/jhn.12431. Epub 2016 Oct 11.

Food-based anthocyanin intake and cognitive outcomes in human intervention trials: a systematic review.

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School of Medicine, Faculty of Science, Medicine and Health, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, NSW, Australia.
Centre for Nutrition and Food Sciences, Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation, The University of Queensland, St Lucia, QLD, Australia.
Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Queensland Government, Brisbane, QLD, Australia.



Preclinical evidence suggests that the anthocyanins, which comprise a subclass of dietary flavonoids providing the purple and red pigmentation in plant-based foods, may have a beneficial impact on cognitive outcomes.


A systematic review was conducted to identify the published literature on food-based anthocyanin consumption and cognitive outcomes in human intervention trials. The literature search followed PRISMA guidelines and included six databases, as well as additional hand searching.


Seven studies were included in this review, comprising acute trials (n = 4) and longer-term (n = 3) interventions that assessed multiple cognitive outcomes in children, adults and older adults with cognitive impairment. Six of seven studies reported improvements in either a single, or multiple, cognitive outcomes, including verbal learning and memory, after anthocyanin-rich food consumption. As a result of methodological limitations and the large clinical and methodological diversity of the studies, the pooling of data for quantitative analysis was not feasible.


The impact of food-based anthocyanin consumption on both acute and long-term cognition appears promising. However, adequately powered studies that include sensitive cognitive tasks are needed to confirm these findings and allow the translation of research into dietary messages.


anthocyanins; cognition; flavonoids; polyphenols

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