New research has uncovered a hidden benefit to the daily consumption of strawberries, claiming the summer berries might just be the key to preserving our cognitive function.
Aside from a temporary run-in with needles (resulting in an expected dive in sales), strawberries have long remained at the top of most Aussies’ shopping lists. They’re the sweet, red, symbol of summer that can be used to compliment an impressive variety of dishes, from Christmas pavlovas and refreshing summer salads to a giant bowl of decadent melted chocolate.
Unlike some more seasonal berries and fruits, strawberries are readily available, especially heading into another sunny Aussie summer season. Oh, and if you time your purchase right, a punnet won’t always cost an arm and a leg like their shelf mate, raspberries.
But the latest push for strawberry consumption has nothing to do with the fruit’s healthy weight loss association, competitive pricing or their high-ranking delicious taste. In fact, the newest groundbreaking research may even call for the re-categorisation of strawberries as a superfood. Move aside blueberries!
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Unveiling strawberries’ superpower
A new study conducted by researchers at the University of Cincinnati has unveiled a groundbreaking association between the daily consumption of strawberries and a reduction in the risk of dementia for at-risk individuals.
Designed to study the effect of the fruit on the middle-aged demographic, 30 overweight adults who were associated with mild cognitive impairment were chosen to participate.
Throughout the three-month-long study (published in the journal Nutrients), the participants were instructed to abstain from consuming strawberries and alternatively provided with a daily packet of supplement powder to be mixed with water and ingested with breakfast.
Half of the adults involved were given the equivalent of one cup of whole strawberries in their powder packet, and the other half were given a placebo concoction.
What happened after three months?
Over the course of the study period, the research team examined several elements of each participant’s cognitive function, such as metabolic health, long-term memory, and general mood. Strawberries were chosen for this study due to their concentration of ellagitannins and ellagic acid, two substances known for their antimicrobial, cancer-fighting and anti-inflammatory properties.
After the three-month period, researchers concluded the group of participants who had been consuming the strawberry powder supplement demonstrated noticeably more improved results on a word-list learning test when compared to the group that had been subject to the placebo powder. They also reported a significant reduction in symptoms of depression and mental health decline.
“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,” explains Robert Krikorian, a professor of 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,” he continues in a statement attached to the study.
As the professor explains, our cognitive abilities begin to decline once we reach midlife, a fact that when coupled with the same age bracket’s rising rates of obesity and insulin resistance, can lead to an alarming increase in neurological inflammation.
In summary, of the middle-aged, overweight, and prediabetic sample of participants, Krikorian says the improvement in cognitive abilities recorded through the research is likely to ‘be related to moderation of inflammation in the strawberry group’.