Strawberries Linked to Reduced Dementia Risk in Middle-Aged Adults, University of Cincinnati Study Finds

Berry Sweet News for Cognitive Health Advocates

In a groundbreaking study, researchers from the University of Cincinnati have unveiled a potential key to reducing the risk of dementia in middle-aged individuals: strawberries. Published last month in the journal Nutrients, the findings suggest that a daily dose of this popular fruit could hold the key to cognitive well-being.

The 12-week study focused on 30 overweight patients, aged 50 to 65, who had previously reported mild cognitive impairment. Participants were instructed to refrain from consuming berries, except for a daily supplement packet mixed with water during breakfast. Half of the group received a powder equivalent to one cup of whole strawberries, while the other half was given a placebo.

The research team closely monitored the participants’ long-term memory, mood, and metabolic health. The results revealed that those who received the strawberry powder exhibited improved performance on a word-list learning test and experienced a significant reduction in depressive symptoms.

University of Cincinnati researchers claim that eating strawberries every day could help reduce the risk of dementia for certain people of middle age.

Professor Robert Krikorian, a leading expert from the UC College of Medicine’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience, explained that both strawberries and blueberries contain antioxidants known as anthocyanins. These compounds have been linked to various health benefits, including metabolic and cognitive enhancements.

Krikorian, who previously studied the health effects of blueberry consumption, cited epidemiological data suggesting that regular consumption of strawberries or blueberries is associated with a slower rate of cognitive decline during aging.

In the 12-week study, 30 overweight patients who had complained of mild cognitive impairment were asked to abstain from eating berries — except for a daily packet of supplement powder mixed with water and consumed with breakfast.

The study also highlighted the presence of ellagitannins and ellagic acid in strawberries, compounds known for their anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antimicrobial, and anticancer properties. According to Krikorian, the strawberries in the study may have positively impacted cognitive function by reducing inflammation in the brain.

Researchers found that those in the strawberry powder group performed better on a word-list learning test and had a significant reduction in depressive symptoms.

As executive abilities tend to decline in midlife, Krikorian suggested a potential link between excess abdominal fat, insulin resistance, obesity, and increased inflammation, including in the brain. The study’s positive outcomes in the strawberry group may be attributed to a moderation of inflammation.

Half the participants, who were 50 to 65 years old, received a powder with the equivalent of one cup of whole strawberries (the standard serving size), while the other half got a placebo.

Despite the promising findings, Krikorian emphasized the need for future research involving a larger participant pool and varying strawberry doses. The study’s acknowledgment revealed support from the California Strawberry Commission, which provided funding and donated strawberry and placebo powders. Importantly, the commission played no role in the study’s design, data collection, analysis, or publication of results.

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