One of the best ways to protect your cognitive function as you age is through diet, but it can be easy to glaze over when you hear about so many different diets. From the MIND diet to the Mediterranean to the Keto diet, there’s a lot of information to sift through about what benefits the mind and body the most. It’s easy to start small and incorporate more servings of fruits and vegetables into the diet instead of a complete overhaul or strict program to follow; but which fruits and vegetables are best for the brain?
New research published in the journal Nutrients picks up where a previous study from last year left off which detailed how blueberries are one of the brain’s superfoods. Blueberries were so powerful in this study that the researchers believe it can preserve cognitive function where age-related cognitive decline may exist. This year, the researchers turned to strawberries.
The team from the University of Cincinnati are interested in how the antioxidants, called anthocyanins, benefit the brain. Strawberries and blueberries contain anthocyanins, with strawberries also containing other constituents specific to strawberries like ellagitannins.
Adult participants aged fifty years to sixty-five years old enrolled in the study. These participants were overweight and were experiencing mild cognitive decline. The researchers followed them for 12 weeks, with half of them receiving powdered strawberries (equaling about 1 cup of strawberries) and the other half receiving a placebo. They were then given cognitive tests, with particular tests aimed at testing long-term memory. Mood surveys were also included.
You may think it would take years of eating fruits before the effects were seen cognitively, but they were apparent after just 12 weeks. Those who didn’t alter their diet other than including the strawberry powder scored better on their cognitive memory tests. They also had lower reports of negative moods than the other participants given a placebo.
This study demonstrates how quickly micronutrients and the inflammation-lowering qualities of fruits and vegetables can work for cognitive benefits, even on a small scale, such as 1 cup of strawberries a day.
Robert Krikorian, Marcelle D. Shidler, Suzanne S. Summer. Early Intervention in Cognitive Aging with Strawberry Supplementation. Nutrients, 2023; 15 (20): 4431 DOI: 10.3390/nu15204431