Do you love snacking on sweet and juicy strawberries? Well, keep at it: A recent study suggests that they can lower your risk of developing Alzheimer’s dementia (AD).
In a study published in Current Developments in Nutrition and funded by the California Strawberry Commission, researchers from Rush University found that elderly people who consumed high amounts of strawberries were less likely to develop Alzheimer’s dementia.
The researchers arrived at the conclusion after observing 924 residents of retirement communities within the Chicago area over the span of about six years as part of Rush University’s Memory and Aging Project (MAP), a process known as a longitudinal cohort study.
According to the researchers, out of the 924 residents they observed, 245 participants developed Alzheimer’s dementia.
In order to properly investigate the possible link between strawberry intake and dementia, the participants – all dementia-free at baseline – were tasked to complete a food frequency questionnaire, as well as at least two annual neurological evaluations.
The diagnosis of Alzheimer’s dementia was based on the structured clinical neurological examination and standardized diagnostic criteria of the National Institute of Neurological and Communicative Disorders and Stroke and the Alzheimer’s Dementia and Related Disorders Association.
According to the researchers, the association between strawberry intake and Alzheimer’s dementia was analyzed using proportional hazard models, which were then adjusted for the participants’ age, sex, education, physical activity and participation in cognitive activities, as well as the participants’ APOE-?4 genotype, their dietary intake of other fruits, and their total calorie intake.
Based on their findings, the researchers noted that 679 participants did not develop Alzheimer’s dementia over the course of six years, which can be linked to the frequency of the participants’ strawberry consumption, since compounds found in strawberries have been identified in earlier studies as having antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that can improve neuronal function and cognition.
Compounds in strawberries provide cognitive benefits
The researchers pointed out specific compounds – vitamin C, anthocyanidins such as pelargonidin, and total flavonoids – all of which are associated with lowering Alzheimer’s dementia risk. As per the researchers, these associations remained even after further adjustment for cardiovascular conditions.
“74 percent of pelargonidin [among the participants] came from strawberries, and pelargonidin is one of the primary bioactives in strawberries, so we speculated that it is something that is driving all the antioxidant and inflammatory effects,” said Puja Agarwal of the Rush Institute of Healthy Aging.
The results of this research echo that of a 2017 experiment, which revealed that a flavonoid called fisetin can work against neurodegenerative diseases linked to aging such as Alzheimer’s dementia. (Related: Apples and strawberries contain a natural compound called fisetin that can make your skin look younger.)
A senolytic molecule, or a molecule that seeks out and destroys old or senescent cells, fisetin was shown to have positive effects on aged mice suffering from cognitive problems, with no evidence of acute toxicity even in high doses.
As per the 2017 study, which was published in Journals of Gerontology Series A, the researchers from the Salk Institute for Biological Studies found that the mice, after treatment, demonstrated not only fewer signs of inflammation and stress, but also sharper memories and better activity during tests.
To learn more about the health benefits of consuming strawberries and other dementia-fighting fruits, visit Fruits.news.