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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Boston, Massachusetts » Jean Mayer Human Nutrition Research Center On Aging » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #373603

Research Project: Nutrition and Regenerative Medicine for Preventing Age-Related Neurological Disorders

Location: Jean Mayer Human Nutrition Research Center On Aging

Title: The Potential Cognitive Health Impact of Strawberries

item Shukitt-Hale, Barbara

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/16/2020
Publication Date: 4/16/2020
Citation: Shukitt Hale, B. 2020. The Potential Cognitive Health Impact of Strawberries [abstract]. Nutrition Trends Forum 2020 Meeting.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Research has demonstrated, in both human and animals, that cognition decreases with age. These deficits are manifested as reduced processing speed and executive function, and impairments in memory and spatial learning. The cause of these functional declines is not entirely understood. However, neuronal losses and the associated changes in the brain may be caused by long term increases in, and susceptibility to, oxidative stress and inflammation. Research has shown that consumption of polyphenolics can slow onset and progression of age-related cognitive and neuronal deficits. Berry fruits, such as strawberries, are rich in polyphenolics. Therefore, dietary interventions with berry fruits may be one strategy to forestall onset and/or progression of age-related neuronal deficits. In a recent randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial conducted by our laboratory, healthy older adults (ages 60-75) consumed 24g of freeze-dried strawberries (i.e., 2 cups) per day, or a placebo powder for 90 days. Participants completed a battery of cognitive tests at baseline, 45 and 90 days following intervention. As observed in the animal research, berry fruit supplementation was able to improve some aspects of cognitive performance among older adults in the short-term. Specifically, participants in the strawberry group after 90 days showed enhanced learning and memory as evidenced by significantly improved probe trial performance in a virtual water maze during the midpoint visit (p = 0.02) and improved word recognition in the CVLT (p = 0.01). Cognitive performance was associated with inflammation, as serum collected from strawberry-supplemented older adults reduced LPS-induced inflammatory-stress-mediated signals (e.g., nitric oxide, p < 0.05) in stressed HAPI microglia in vitro, relative to serum from placebo controls. Therefore, dietary interventions with polyphenol-rich strawberry fruit may be one strategy to slow onset and/or progression of age-related neuronal deficits, via decreases in inflammation.