Daily strawberry consumption was linked to improved cognitive function, lower blood pressure and higher antioxidant capacity in a randomised clinical trial presented today at Nutrition 2023, the annual meeting of the American Society of Nutrition (ASN). The study was conducted at San Diego State University and builds on previous research demonstrating strawberries' cardiovascular, metabolic and cognitive health benefits.
The double-blind, placebo-controlled study was conducted in 35 healthy men and women aged 66 to 78. The participants consumed 26 grams of freeze-dried strawberry powder, equivalent to two servings of strawberries daily, or a control powder for eight weeks each.
Following strawberry consumption, cognitive processing speed increased by 5.2 percent, systolic blood pressure decreased by 3.6 percent, and total antioxidant capacity significantly increased by 10.2 percent. Waist circumference decreased by 1.1 percent during the trial's control and intervention arms. While consuming the control powder, participants experienced increased serum triglycerides.
"This study demonstrates that consuming strawberries may promote cognitive function and improve cardiovascular risk factors like hypertension," said Shirin Hooshmand, professor in the School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences at San Diego State and principal investigator.
"We're encouraged that a simple dietary change, like adding strawberries to the daily diet, may improve these outcomes in older adults."
Strawberries are a source of many bioactive compounds. In addition to providing 100 percent of daily vitamin C needs, strawberries contain heart-healthy nutrients like folate, potassium, fibre, phytosterols and polyphenols.
Previous clinical trials have connected strawberry consumption to improvements in several markers for cardiovascular disease, including reduced total and LDL cholesterol (TC) and lower blood pressure. The link between strawberry consumption and brain health has also been well-explored in clinical and population-based studies.
Strawberries and pelargonidin, a biochemical primarily found in strawberries, were associated with a reduced risk of Alzheimer's dementia in studies conducted at Rush University. Long-term observational studies, including the Health Professionals Study and the Nurses' Health Study, found that strawberry consumers had lower rates of cognitive decline.