Eating Strawberries Daily May Protect Your Brain from Dementia

By Chris Melore

Strawberries could be the sweet treat that keeps your brain functioning properly later in life. Researchers from the University of Cincinnati found that strawberries indulging in strawberries daily could potentially keep dementia at bay for some middle-aged individuals.

Building on earlier research highlighting the possible benefits of blueberries in lowering the risk of developing dementia, this new study digs into the cognitive and health impacts of strawberries.

“Both strawberries and blueberries contain antioxidants called anthocyanins, which have been implicated in a variety of berry health benefits such as metabolic and cognitive enhancements,” says Robert Krikorian, professor emeritus in the UC College of Medicine’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience. “There is epidemiological data suggesting that people who consume strawberries or blueberries regularly have a slower rate of cognitive decline with aging.”

Strawberries are not only rich in anthocyanins but also boast other beneficial micronutrients like ellagitannins and ellagic acid. These components have been linked to health perks, particularly for those with prediabetes — a condition affecting nearly half of U.S. adults around middle age that can lead to chronic diseases.

“This study assessed whether strawberry consumption might improve cognitive performance and metabolic health in this population and, if so, whether there might be an association between cognitive enhancement and reduced metabolic disturbance,” Krikorian notes in a university release.

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The study involved 30 overweight participants between 50 and 65 years of age, all of whom reported mild cognitive issues and were thus at a heightened risk for dementia. They were asked to avoid all berries except for a daily supplement powder mixed with water taken at breakfast for 12 weeks. Half the group received powder equivalent to a cup of strawberries, while the other half got a placebo.

The results? The strawberry group showed improved cognitive abilities, particularly memory, and a noteworthy decrease in depressive symptoms. Dr. Krikorian believes this boost in mood could stem from an “enhanced executive ability” – basically, a more efficient brain that could lead to better emotional regulation and problem-solving skills.

“Reduced memory interference refers to less confusion of semantically related terms on a word-list learning test,” Krikorian explains. “This phenomenon generally is thought to reflect better executive control in terms of resisting intrusion of non-target words during the memory testing.”

Interestingly, while previous studies on strawberries have reported metabolic health improvements like lower insulin levels, this study didn’t replicate those findings. The dose of strawberry powder used in this research was lower than in past studies, which Krikorian notes could be a factor.

Dr. Krikorian theorizes that the cognitive enhancements observed might be due to the strawberries’ role in reducing inflammation in the brain, a condition that can be worsened by factors like excess abdominal fat, insulin resistance, and obesity.

“Executive abilities begin to decline in midlife and excess abdominal fat, as in insulin resistance and obesity, will tend to increase inflammation, including in the brain,” the study author concludes. “So, one might consider that our middle-aged, overweight, prediabetic sample had higher levels of inflammation that contributed to at least mild impairment of executive abilities. Accordingly, the beneficial effects we observed might be related to moderation of inflammation in the strawberry group.”

Although these findings are promising, they’re not conclusive. Krikorian stresses the need for further investigations with more participants and varied doses of strawberry supplements to fully understand the fruit’s potential in cognitive health and dementia prevention.

The findings are published in the journal Nutrients.

This research was supported with funding and donation of strawberry and placebo powders by the California Strawberry Commission in Watsonville, California. The researchers add the funding organization had no role in the design of the study; in the collection, analysis, or interpretation of data; in the writing of the manuscript, or in the decision to publish the results.

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Source: Study Finds

The contents of this website do not constitute advice and are provided for informational purposes only. See our full disclaimer

Chris Melore has been a writer, researcher, editor, and producer in the New York-area since 2006. He won a local Emmy award for his work in sports television in 2011.

Image: Pixabay

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