Polka strawberry boxes for sale at Ruoholahti City Market in Helsinki on July 10, 2023. LEHTIKUVA

Health & wellbeing

Adding strawberries to your daily diet may offer significant benefits for cognitive function and overall health, especially as you age. According to a new randomized clinical trial presented at Nutrition 2023, daily strawberry consumption has been linked to improved cognitive ability, lower blood pressure, and higher antioxidant capacity.

Conducted at San Diego State University, the study involved 35 healthy men and women between the ages of 66 and 78. Participants were given either 26 grams of freeze-dried strawberry powder, equivalent to two servings of strawberries daily, or a control powder for eight weeks each.

The trial was double-blind and placebo-controlled to ensure accurate results.

The findings were remarkable. After consuming strawberries, the participants experienced a 5.2% increase in cognitive processing speed, a 3.6% decrease in systolic blood pressure, and a significant 10.2% increase in total antioxidant capacity. Additionally, waist circumference decreased by 1.1% during both the control and intervention arms of the trial. Conversely, when participants consumed the control powder, they experienced increased serum triglycerides.

Professor Shirin Hooshmand, the principal investigator on the study from the School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences at San Diego State, expressed enthusiasm for the results. "This study demonstrates that consuming strawberries may promote cognitive function and improve cardiovascular risk factors like hypertension," she said. "We’re encouraged that a simple dietary change, like adding strawberries to the daily diet, may improve these outcomes in older adults."

Strawberries are known for being a rich source of bioactive compounds, including heart-healthy nutrients like folate, potassium, fiber, phytosterols, and polyphenols. In addition to meeting 100% of our daily vitamin C needs, strawberries have shown potential in improving cardiovascular health in prior clinical trials, with reduced total and LDL cholesterol and lower blood pressure.

Moreover, strawberries contain pelargonidin, a biochemical associated with a reduced risk of Alzheimer's dementia in studies conducted at Rush University. Long-term observational studies, such as the Health Professionals Study and the Nurses' Health Study, have also found that strawberry consumers have lower rates of cognitive decline.

Adding strawberries to your diet can be a delicious and beneficial choice, especially as you grow older. Embracing the power of strawberries could be a simple step towards supporting cognitive health and overall well-being.