New York: Daily strawberry consumption could help reduce the risk of dementia for certain middle-aged populations, finds a study.
According to researchers from the University of Cincinnati, the metabolic and cardiovascular benefits of strawberry consumption have been studied previously, but there were relatively few studies on its cognitive effects.
In the new study, published in the journal Nutrients, the team included a total of 30 overweight patients between 50-65 years old with complaints of mild cognitive decline. This population has an increased risk for late-life dementia and other common conditions, said Robert Krikorian, professor at the varsity’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience.
Over a period of 12 weeks, the participants were asked to abstain from berry fruit consumption of any kind except for a daily packet of supplement powder to be mixed with water and consumed with breakfast. Half of the participants received powders that contained the equivalent of one cup of whole strawberries (the standard serving size), while the other half received a placebo.
Those in the strawberry powder group had diminished memory interference, which is consistent with an overall improvement in executive ability.
"Reduced memory interference refers to less confusion of semantically related terms on a word-list learning test," Krikorian said. "This phenomenon generally is thought to reflect better executive control in terms of resisting intrusion of non-target words during the memory testing."
The strawberry-treated participants also had a significant reduction of depressive symptoms, which Krikorian said can be understood as a result from "enhanced executive ability that would provide better emotional control and coping and perhaps better problem-solving."
While more research is needed, Krikorian said the strawberry treatment may have improved cognitive function by reducing inflammation in the brain.
"Executive abilities begin to decline in midlife and excess abdominal fat, as in insulin resistance and obesity, will tend to increase inflammation, including in the brain," he said.
"So, one might consider that our middle-aged, overweight, prediabetic sample had higher levels of inflammation that contributed to at least mild impairment of executive abilities. Accordingly, the beneficial effects we observed might be related to moderation of inflammation in the strawberry group."