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.
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.
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.
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.
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.