New study looks to anthocyanins to improve memory loss progression

A multi-centre study led by researchers at the Illawarra Health and Medical Research Institute (IHMRI) and University of Wollongong (UOW) hopes to establish a diet-based intervention to help those at risk of dementia. 

Food for thought: Preventing decline and improving cognition through diet and dietary advice in older people at risk,’ is a landmark study led by Professor Karen Charlton and Dr Vinicius Andre do Rosario, in collaboration with researchers from the University of New South Wales and Western Sydney University. The project is funded  by the Dementia Centre for Research Collaboration under the World Class Research Project Grant funding scheme.

“The purpose of this study is to identify whether consuming a high intake of anthocyanins for six months can delay or prevent memory loss progression in people at high risk of dementia,” said Dr do Rosario. 

Anthocyanins are compounds found naturally in fruits and vegetables that provide the deep-red and purple-blue colour. They have strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant abilities which may protect human brain cells from damage.

Existing research has linked anthocyanins to potentially decreasing age-related diseases, including heart disease. Over the past 10 years, Professor Charlton’s team has conducted many studies that have found promising effects of anthocyanin-rich foods such as cherries and plums on memory and cardiovascular risk factors.

“We found that anthocyanin-rich fruit can improve memory and verbal fluency in older adults with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s type dementia (AD), and our recent study also showed that eating more anthocyanin-rich food is associated with better memory in people with Mild Cognitive Impairment,” said Dr Katherine Kent from Western Sydney University.

The study is searching for people aged 65 years and over with observed memory complaints. People within this age range that have been diagnosed with ‘Mild Cognitive Impairment’ or have noticed memory problems are invited to join the study. A diagnosis of any type of dementia, including ‘early-stage dementia’ or ‘mild dementia’ is an exclusion factor.

Eligible participants will be appointed to a group to receive either a diet-based intervention, a supplement, or a placebo product. A range of measures including blood pressure, blood vessel function, cognition, and dietary habits will be assessed.

Dementia is a significant and growing health issue in Australia and now the third-leading cause of disease burden. The Dementia in Australia 2021 report highlights that 472,000 Australians are living with dementia, and with an ageing population this is expected to double by 2058.

“By taking part in this study you will help scientists better understand how anthocyanins work in the body and if they can play a role in slowing or preventing memory decline,” said Professor Charlton.

If you would like to participate in the trial, you can register your interest here or contact Dr do Rosario at 02 4239 4186 or at


Media contact

Emily O’Keefe

t: 0428 849 827  


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