Background: 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.
Methods: 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.
Results: 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.
Conclusions: 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.