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Strawberries help keep the brain active longer

In addition to improving memory, consuming the fruit resulted in fewer depressive symptoms

Strawberries can be more than just a delicious fruit. A small study recently published in the journal Nutrients indicates that they can be a vital ingredient for preserving cognitive health, i.e. keeping our brain active for longer. And this is not the first work to demonstrate these positive effects!

The study included 37 overweight participants between the ages of 50 and 70. All participants were diagnosed with insulin resistance and subjective cognitive decline, conditions that often precede dementia.

The researchers divided the participants into two groups. One group received a daily dose of 24 grams of freeze-dried strawberry powder, equivalent to two cups of fresh strawberries. The other group consumed a placebo with a similar calorie intake daily. All subjects were asked to refrain from eating any types of berries during the 12-week trial period.

Noticeable improvement in memory

The group that consumed strawberries showed a notable improvement in memory, particularly memory processing. There was a significant decrease in memory interference, a crucial factor in memory storage and retrieval. They excelled at remembering words based on previously learned words without confusion.

Participants who ate the fruit also experienced a significant reduction in depression. On basic diagnostic tools, their scores decreased, indicating less severity of depressive symptoms. This finding is particularly significant as depression is a common precursor to cognitive decline.

Although not statistically significant, there was a trend in the strawberry group that suggested improvement in executive functions, such as problem solving and planning.

However, despite the known link between insulin resistance and cognitive decline, the study found no benefits on metabolic parameters such as blood sugar and insulin levels. The researchers hypothesized that the cognitive benefits of strawberries may occur through several mechanisms, possibly unrelated to metabolic changes.

Antioxidant pigment

According to researchers, strawberries contain antioxidants called anthocyanins, which have health benefits such as metabolic and cognitive improvements. These substances are pigments naturally present in various fruits, as well as in blueberries, currants and red grapes.

Anthocyanins are part of the flavonoid family, a type of polyphenol famous for its powerful antioxidant properties. They play a crucial role in protecting cells from oxidative stress caused by free radicals, unstable molecules that cause cell damage.

In addition to their antioxidant capacity, anthocyanins are recognized for their notable anti-inflammatory effects. They potentially reduce inflammation by preventing the production of inflammatory chemicals such as cytokines.

Additionally, anthocyanin compounds have been linked to numerous other health benefits. Studies suggest they improve cholesterol levels, reduce blood pressure and improve blood vessel function for better cardiovascular health. Other studies suggest that they inhibit tumor cell growth and induce apoptosis (cell death) in several types of cancer.

Although preliminary, the researchers believe the results are promising. They add to the growing body of evidence supporting the role of diet in maintaining brain health during the aging process.

Strawberries, in particular, could provide a simple, cheap and delicious way to maintain long-term cognitive abilities, especially in those at risk of dementia due to insulin resistance.

Source: Terra

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