Nutritionists have long recommended strawberries as an excellent source of vitamin C, antioxidants and fiber, which help maintain a healthy metabolism. Despite their sweetness, strawberries are also naturally low in sugar – making them a preferred alternative to other treats that can increase the risk of diabetes.
A growing body of research shows that eating strawberries may also be effective in slowing cognitive decline and dementia progression in middle-aged adults. People with mild disabilities may experience improved mental performance and sharper memory when they make strawberries a regular part of their diet.
At the University of Cincinnati, researchers wanted to test whether strawberries had similar cognitive benefits to those they found in a Study they did last year on blueberries. In this study, researchers found evidence that blueberries may reduce the risk of later dementia in middle-aged people. The benefits appear to be linked to the antioxidants that give the berries their distinctive color.
“Both strawberries and blueberries contain antioxidants called anthocyanins, which have been linked to a variety of berries’ health benefits, such as: B. Metabolic and cognitive improvements.” said Robert Krikorian, professor emeritus at UC School of Medicine. “There is epidemiological data suggesting that people who regularly consume strawberries or blueberries experience slower cognitive decline as they age.”
In both studies, researchers recruited groups of overweight middle-aged people aged 50 to 65 to test whether adding the berries to their diet would improve their scores on cognitive tests.
The strawberry study Thirty people with complaints of mild cognitive decline were included because this group tends to be at higher risk of dementia and other common illnesses.
Mild cognitive impairment is an under-the-radar condition that is often a precursor to more serious memory loss and the development of dementia. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, a estimated 12-18% of people over 60 live with mild cognitive impairment. Symptoms include forgetting basic everyday experiences, conversations, and plans that were previously easy to remember. MCI can also impact the ability to make informed decisions and develop strategies to complete tasks.
Many people with MCI may not be screened for it before the disease progresses. Once a diagnosis is made, about 10-15% of people with the condition develop dementia within just one year, according to Yale Medicine reported last year.
Participants in the strawberry study were asked to avoid eating any berries for 12 weeks – except for a daily packet of supplement powder mixed with water and taken with breakfast. Half of the participants received a powder equivalent to one cup of whole strawberries, the standard serving size. The other participants were given a placebo.
Those who ate the strawberry powder showed lower levels of memory impairment, a type of cognitive impairment that makes it difficult for people to remember specific information that comes from similar memories. In people with high levels of memory impairment, similar long-term memories compete with each other, making it difficult to access information in the form of short-term memories. As the problem progresses, some long-term memories may be completely forgotten.
The study participants who took strawberry powder also had fewer depressive symptoms. Researchers believe this is linked to better overall executive function in the brain, which allows for better emotional control, coping and problem solving.
The researchers said the improvements in the strawberry powder group could be the result of reduced inflammation in the brain.
“In midlife, executive abilities begin to decline and excess abdominal fat, as is the case with insulin resistance and obesity, tends to lead to inflammation, including in the brain,” Krikorian said. “So one might assume that our overweight, middle-aged, pre-diabetic sample had higher levels of inflammation, which contributed to at least a mild impairment in executive abilities. Accordingly, the positive effects we observed could be related to the attenuation of inflammation in the strawberry group.”
The study builds previous research This linked greater consumption of strawberries and blueberries to slower cognitive decline in older people.
Although the study group at the University of Cincinnati was small, Krikorian and his colleagues hope to expand their research in the future with more participants and different doses of strawberry supplements.