Eat strawberries for better brain health later in life

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As tennis fans tuck into punnets of strawberries while they take in the 2017 Wimbledon championships, it’s interesting to know that the juicy red fruit can help stave off age-related mental decline.

It’s all thanks to a compound found in strawberries called fisetin, which researchers have discovered eases cognitive deterioration and inflammation.

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A team from Salk Institute for Biological Studies in California have tested the effect of fisetin on mice who had aged prematurely. The rodents were fed a daily dose of fisetin with their food for a period of seven months. The scientists also focused on a second group of prematurely aged mice, but this time didn’t add fisetin to their diets.

Both sets of mice undertook activity and memory tests, and levels of specific proteins related to brain function, stress response and inflammation, were examined.

It was found that the mice who did not eat fisetin had trouble with all the cognitive tests as well as elevated markers of stress and inflammation. The fisetin-fed group were not noticeably different in behaviour, cognitive ability or inflammatory markers at 10 months than a group of untreated three-month-old mice with the same condition.

"Companies have put fisetin into various health products but there hasn't been enough serious testing of the compound," explained senior author Pamela Maher. "Based on our ongoing work, we think fisetin might be helpful as a preventative for many age-associated neurodegenerative diseases, not just Alzheimer's, and we'd like to encourage more rigorous study of it.

"Mice are not people, of course. But there are enough similarities that we think fisetin warrants a closer look."

Results have been published in The Journals of Gerontology, Series A.

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