July 19, 2024

Daily Strawberry Consumption May Lower Dementia Risk in Middle-Aged Individuals

New research conducted at the University of Cincinnati suggests that incorporating strawberries into the daily diet could help reduce the risk of dementia for certain middle-aged populations. The study, recently published in the journal Nutrients, builds upon previous research that found blueberries to have similar cognitive benefits.

Strawberries are rich in anthocyanins, ellagitannins, and ellagic acid, all of which are associated with various health benefits. While the metabolic and cardiovascular advantages of strawberry consumption have been previously studied, there have been fewer investigations into its cognitive effects.

To explore the potential cognitive benefits of strawberries, researchers enrolled 30 overweight individuals aged 50-65 with mild cognitive decline. Over a 12-week period, participants were asked to abstain from eating any type of berry fruit, except for a daily packet of supplement powder mixed with water. Half of the participants received powders containing the equivalent of one cup of whole strawberries, while the other half received a placebo.

The participants underwent cognitive tests that measured long-term memory and were also monitored for mood, depressive symptoms, and metabolic data throughout the study. The results indicated that those in the strawberry powder group exhibited improved executive ability, manifested as diminished memory interference. This refers to the participants experiencing less confusion between semantically related terms during a word-list learning test.

Additionally, the strawberry-treated participants showed a significant reduction in depressive symptoms, potentially resulting from enhanced executive ability. It is believed that better executive control leads to improved emotional control and coping skills, as well as enhanced problem-solving abilities.

Although previous strawberry studies have shown improvement in metabolic measures, such as lower insulin levels, this particular study did not find an effect on metabolic health. The researchers suggest that the dosage of strawberry powder used in this study might have been a contributing factor, as other studies employed higher dosages.

The researchers hypothesize that the cognitive benefits observed in the strawberry group may be attributed to a reduction in brain inflammation. As executive abilities tend to decline during midlife, increased inflammation in the brain, brought on by factors such as excess abdominal fat, insulin resistance, and obesity, can lead to mild impairments in executive function. The strawberry treatment may have mitigated this inflammation, resulting in the observed cognitive improvements.

While further research is needed, the study highlights the potential cognitive benefits of daily strawberry consumption. Future studies should involve larger sample sizes and explore different dosages of strawberry supplementation. This research was funded in part by the California Strawberry Commission, with the organization providing both funding and the strawberry and placebo powders used in the study. The research authors declare no conflict of interest. The funding organization had no involvement in the study’s design, data collection, analysis, manuscript writing, or publication decision.

 

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1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
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