Are Strawberries Good for the Brain?

Are strawberries good for the brain?

One of the nutrient-packet foods that people often ask about is strawberry. These vibrant berries are not just delightful to our taste buds but also contain compounds that benefit your brain. We’ll start with a short summary so you can read the rest of the article at your leisure.

TL;DR Article Summary

Strawberries contain antioxidants, folate, and polyphenols as its key players that contribute to brain health. These active compounds in strawberries benefit the brain by potentially enhancing memory and cognitive function, and reducing neuronal inflammation. Obviously, a single food like strawberries isn’t a magic bullet for brain health, you need to make it a part of a healthy diet. Just make sure to choose organic ones. Strawberries are unfortunately one of the most pesticide polluted fruits, also known as The Dirty Dozen.

Why is Diet Important for Brain Health?

Our brain is surprisingly hungry—spending about 20% of our total’s body energy! To keep it at its peak function, we need to ensure we feed it with a variety of nutrients. This will help you maintain healthy brain structure, manage repair and growth of neurons, produce neurotransmitters, and regulate inflammation. Put simply, a nutritious diet helps you feel good, learn faster, focus better, and consolidate memories for longer.

Let’s have a look at what nutrients strawberries how that benefit the brain and how they work.

How Do Strawberries Benefit the Brain?

Antioxidant Powerhouse

Strawberries are a good source of antioxidants, much like other berry fruits. These nutrients include vitamin C, anthocyanins, and flavonoids – they protect your brain cells from oxidative stress and inflammation. [1, 2, 3] Oxidative stress is linked to brain aging and neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, so it’s a good idea to neutralize them with nature’s best defense – antioxidants.

Source of Mood-Enhancing Folate

Folate is a B-vitamin essential for our health. Our bodies can’t make folate on its own so we need to get it from foods. You’ve guessed it, folate is found in strawberries. It plays a major role in brain development and function among others. [4] It aids in the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood, sleep, and appetite, sometimes called the “happiness molecule”. It comes as no surprise then that adequate folate intake is linked to a lower risk of depressive symptoms.

Rich in Polyphenols

Strawberries are an excellent source of polyphenols. These are antioxidants that have been shown to support and protect brain health. Here’s the deal, though—polyphenols can cross the blood-brain barrier, allowing them to exert their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects directly on your brain cells. This sounds good in theory, but what do studies say, and how does it look in practice? Evidence shows that dietary polyphenols can enhance cognitive function and may slow down the progression of neurodegenerative diseases. So while you might not “feel it” working, they indeed are protecting your brain in the background.

IMPORTANT: Choose Organic Strawberries

Strawberries benefits can easily be offset by their negative side: pesticides. Strawberries are one of the most pesticide contaminated fruits in the world. Choose fresh and organic whenever possible. Frozen strawberries are also ok as long as they are certified organic and with minimum or no pesticides on them.

Anyone who should avoid strawberries?

Some people can unfortunately be allergic to them. Symptoms can range wildly from itching and hives to more severe reactions. If you suspect an allergy, don’t waste a minute of your time—seek medical advice before eating them.

Sugar Issue

Although strawberries are nutritious, they do contain natural sugars. As any type of sugar, it can be detrimental if you overdo it. Also, for those managing blood sugar levels due to high blood sugar problems, it’s best to steer clear of strawberries in most cases.

Conclusion

Strawberries, if organic, can be one of the best fruits you can eat for your brain. With their abundance of antioxidants, folate, and polyphenols, strawberries can benefit your focus, mood, and memory. They achieve this mainly through antioxidants, by reducing inflammation and protecting long-term neuronal health. Keep in mind that strawberries are not magic solution or fix, just like any other food. It takes discipline and daily commitment to a healthy lifestyle to see long-lasting improvements in your brain function.

Further Reading:

References

  1. Sandoval-Salazar C, Oviedo-Solís CI, Lozoya-Gloria E, Aguilar-Zavala H, Solís-Ortiz MS, Pérez-Vázquez V, Balcón-Pacheco CD, Ramírez-Emiliano J. Strawberry Intake Ameliorates Oxidative Stress and Decreases GABA Levels Induced by High-Fat Diet in Frontal Cortex of Rats. Antioxidants (Basel). 2019 Mar 20;8(3):70. doi: 10.3390/antiox8030070. PMID: 30897746; PMCID: PMC6466532.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6466532/#:~:text=Together%20these%20data%20suggest%20that,inflammatory%20effects%20of%20the%20strawberry.
  2. Basu A, Nguyen A, Betts NM, Lyons TJ. Strawberry as a functional food: an evidence-based review. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2014;54(6):790-806. doi: 10.1080/10408398.2011.608174. PMID: 24345049.
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24345049/
  3. Heo HJ, Lee CY. Strawberry and its anthocyanins reduce oxidative stress-induced apoptosis in PC12 cells. J Agric Food Chem. 2005 Mar 23;53(6):1984-9. doi: 10.1021/jf048616l. PMID: 15769124.
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15769124/
  4. Reynolds EH. Folic acid, ageing, depression, and dementia. BMJ. 2002 Jun 22;324(7352):1512-5. doi: 10.1136/bmj.324.7352.1512. PMID: 12077044; PMCID: PMC1123448.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1123448/#:~:text=With%20respect%20to%20dementia%2C%20there,processes%20or%20by%20homocysteine%20mediated

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