In one of the first clinical studies designed to determine whether dietary strawberry intake could reverse age-related motor and cognitive decline among healthy older adults, USDA researchers have demonstrated that supplementing older adults’ diets with about two cups per day of strawberries can improve cognition even in the absence of neurological dysfunction.
The research was conducted at the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University and presented at the recent Society for Neuroscience annual meeting in Chicago.
Thirty-seven healthy men and women, age 60-75, consumed either the equivalent of about two cups per day of fresh strawberries in the form of a freeze-dried powder, or an equal amount of a calorie matched control powder containing no strawberries, for 90 days. The participants maintained their normal diet, other than refraining from consuming any berries or berry products during the study. Mobility and cognitive testing was done at day 0, 45 and 90 of the study.
Participants completed a series of mobility tests during standing and while walking at their preferred speed on a specially-equipped treadmill. They also completed a series of cognitive and learning tests.
Dietary intervention with strawberry for 90 days led to improvements in spatial memory and word recognition among healthy older adults. However, this intervention did not produce measurable improvements in mobility, perhaps due to the strict inclusion/exclusion criteria required for safe treadmill walking.
Overall the study results suggest that dietary intervention with strawberry fruit may be an effective means of combating age-related cognitive decline.
Miller, et al. Effects of Strawberry Supplementation on Mobility and Cognition in Older Adults. Presented at Society for Neuroscience Annual Meeting, October 2015.
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