Strawberries are good for your brain, according to breaking news out of the 2009 Berry Health Symposium. Several of the latest studies, conducted by world-renowned researchers, consistently showed that strawberry consumption is a simple way to improve cognitive function.
For example, one study presented by researchers from the Chicago Healthy Aging Project (CHAP) showed that older adults who consume strawberries at least once per month have less cognitive decline. More specifically, women who consumed more than one serving of strawberries per month had a 16.2% slower rate of cognitive decline versus those who consumed less.
With increasing age, brain function diminishes. This has been conclusively shown in laboratory studies, by Drs. James Joseph and Barbara Shukitt-Hale of USDA Agricultural Research Service at Tufts University. Their latest research at the conference demonstrated that aging results in deficits in learning, memory and motor function, such as balance and walking speed - and concluded that strawberries and other berries improved both memory and motor function.
Berries Can Preserve Brain Function
So what is it about berries that seem to protect the brain?
Researchers from the 2009 Berry Health Symposium took a stab at answering that very question. Most disease processes in the body are believed to begin through inflammation and oxidation, two of the very processes I focus on in my forthcoming book "The Most Effective Ways to Live Longer". Both inflammation and oxidation damage cells. Healthy nerve cell membranes promote optimal communication within the brain and nervous system so preventing membrane damage from inflammation and oxidation is essential.
Since berries- and other fruits and vegetables- contain a ton of antioxidants and anti-inflammatories, it's easy to connect the dots and see why they might preserve brain function.
Prevention of Dementia in an Aging Population
Dementia is the loss of cognitive function of sufficient severity to interfere with everyday tasks. Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia. It is estimated that one in eight persons, aged 65 and older have Alzheimer's. There is no cure for the disease and treatments are ineffective.
According to recently released census estimates, the world's 65-and-older population will triple by 2050 to make up 1 in 6 people. The number of senior citizens has already increased 23 percent since 2000 to 516 million, more than double the growth rate for the general population. As a result, the incidence of dementia is likely to rise.
The frequent consumption of berries is emerging as a potential simple dietary factor for prevention.
California strawberries are grown and available year-round in supermarkets across the country. Do remember- the Environmental Working Group lists strawberries as one of their "Dirty Dozen" (i.e. most contaminated crops). So when you do buy strawberries from the supermarket, be sure to get organic!
More information and the research abstracts from the 2009 Health Benefits Symposium can be found at www.berryhealth.org.