Simple item added to diet could slash dementia risk, study suggests

EATING a lot of a certain berry could help starve off dementia, experts have claimed. 

Strawberries, the nation’s most loved fruit, have been found to protect the brain from dementia by reducing inflammation.


Berries may have a protective effect on the brain because they contain pelargonidin.

Researchers found that adults over 65 years old who regularly ate the berry had fewer abnormal tau proteins in their brains.

Tau proteins help to transport nutrients from one part of the brain to another.

Abnormal or misshapen tau proteins cannot do their job properly and are thought to be a driver of dementia.

The team from Rush University in Chicago suggested berries may have a protective effect because they contain high levels of pelargonidin.

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The compound gives strawberries their red colour and can help reduce inflammation.

But the researchers admitted it was difficult to determine whether the strawberries alone had triggered the improvement in brain health.

This is because the study was observational — meaning it could not tell if the result was due to other factors — and had a small sample size.

The study, published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, looked at the brains of 575 deceased participants, none of which had dementia. 

The participants, who had an average age of 91, had completed food diaries for two decades before they died.

They were also tested on their cognitive abilities at the same time.

Results from post-mortem showed that among the group that ate the most strawberries, the lowest amount of tau proteins were found.

The study authors also said they found no association between tau protein levels and those who had the APOE-4 gene, which is thought to raise the risk of the disease. 

Professor Puja Agarwal an author of the study and nutritional epidemiologist Rush said: “While pelagonidin should be examined further for their role in maintaining brain health in older adults, this gives a simple change that anyone can make in their diet.”

Meanwhile, a study published last month found that regular exercise and every day habits, such as completing household chores, and visiting family and friends, are good ways to reduce your risk of dementia. 

These results followed other conclusions from another study that ultra-processed foods can significantly increase your risk of having dementia.

Dementia is a general term used to describe the deterioration of a person’s mental ability that is severe enough to interfere with their daily life.

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It is currently consider to be the second leading cause of death in the UK, followed closely by Ischaemic heart diseases.

Some early warning signs of dementia include: slowness of thought, difficulty with planning, trouble with language, problems with attention and concentration, mood or behavioural changes.

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