Can a strawberry a day keep dementia away?
A study published in the journal Nutrients last month suggests that could be possible.
Researchers from the University of Cincinnati (UC) studied a total of 30 patients between 50 and 65 years of age who had experienced symptoms of mild cognitive decline.
The participants were told to avoid eating any berry fruit — and instead added a packet of supplement powder to their water each morning, according to a press release from UC.
For half the group, the powder contained strawberries.
Next, the participants were asked to complete tests to measure their memory and other cognitive functions, as well as their mood, signs of depression and metabolic data.
Researchers determined that the people who drank the strawberry-infused powder had “reduced memory interference,” compared to those who did not.
“Reduced memory interference refers to less confusion of semantically related terms on a word-list learning test,” said lead researcher Robert Krikorian, professor emeritus in the UC College of Medicine’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience, in a press release.
“This phenomenon generally is thought to reflect better executive control in terms of resisting intrusion of non-target words during the memory testing.”
Those who received the strawberry powder also experienced reduced depressive symptoms, better emotional control and improved problem-solving compared to the placebo group, Krikorian noted.
This study came on the heels of prior research that Krikorian published in 2022, which found that blueberries could also reduce the risk of middle-aged people developing dementia later in life.
It is thought that the health benefits of strawberries stem from antioxidants called anthocyanins, which have been linked to a reduced risk of cancer, heart disease, inflammation, diabetes and obesity.
The fruit also contains micronutrients called ellagitannins and ellagic acid, both of which have been shown to spark cognitive and metabolic health benefits, Krikorian added.
“There is epidemiological data suggesting that people who consume strawberries or blueberries regularly have a slower rate of cognitive decline with aging,” he said.
The researcher also hypothesized that strawberries could improve 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,” Krikorian said in the release.
“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,” he continued.
“Accordingly, the beneficial effects we observed might be related to moderation of inflammation in the strawberry group.”
Looking ahead, Krikorian called for more studies to analyze larger groups of people consuming various dosages of strawberry-containing supplements.
New Jersey-based registered dietitian Erin Palinski-Wade, author of “2 Day Diabetes Diet” and creator of The Blood Sugar Fix, noted that strawberries are an excellent source of antioxidants that can fight against inflammation in the body. (She was not involved in UC’s study.)
“Strawberries contain beneficial nutrients including anthocyanins, ellagitannins and ellagic acid, all of which can help to improve metabolic health while reducing inflammation,” she said.
“Since insulin resistance is a precursor to a variety of diseases, including dementia, adding nutrient-rich foods to the diet that help to reverse insulin resistance should have a positive impact on cognition.”
Palinksi-Wade also noted that strawberry consumption has been shown to lower blood pressure and improve antioxidant capacity, both of which may help to fight the risk of dementia.
“Although these studies suggest that strawberries may have cognitive benefits, more research with larger sample sizes and longer follow-up periods is needed to confirm these findings, but the results so far are very promising,” she added.
Fox News Digital reached out to the UC researchers for additional comment.