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Cranberries May Fight Stroke Damage

Cranberry Extract Might Aid in Stroke Recovery
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WebMD Health News

Sept. 8, 2003 -- Cranberries may deserve a larger role in a healthy diet rather than occasional beverage or turkey sidekick. A new study shows cranberry extract may actually prevent stroke-related brain damage and aid in stroke recovery.

Researchers found that a concentrated cranberry extract reduced brain cell death by as much as 50% when given immediately after a stroke in laboratory tests.

The results of the study were presented this week at the 26th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society in Washington, D.C.

"This study shows that cranberries have the potential to protect against brain cell damage that occurs during a stroke event," says researcher Catherine Neto, PhD, of the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth, in a news release. "It may not stop a stroke from occurring initially, but it may reduce the severity of stroke."

Berry Early Findings; More Study Needed

In the study, researchers compared the effects of various concentrations of cranberry extract on rat brain cells in the lab under conditions that were similar to those found during a stroke.

They found that the highest concentration of cranberry extract caused a 50% reduction in brain cell death after a simulated stroke compared with no treatment at all.

Researchers say it's the first study to suggest a link between cranberries and stroke prevention and recovery.

They say further studies are under way to isolate the particular compounds in the cranberry extract that are responsible for the beneficial effects. Once that compound is identified, it could then be used to develop a stroke-fighting drug or supplement.

Until that study is completed, researchers say they don't know exactly how much cranberry juice or cranberries are needed to provide a protective effect or aid in stroke recovery.

But in the meantime, the National Institutes of Health advises that there are other proven ways to reduce the risk of stroke, such as:

  • Lower your blood pressure if it's above normal.
  • Quit smoking.
  • Keep diabetes and heart disease in check through medical treatment and leading a healthy lifestyle.

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