Are Strawberries Good For Your Brain?

You may recall a study I posted last year about the effect a diet high in folate-rich natural foods -- among them beans, oranges and strawberries -- can have on preventing the cognitive declines many erroneously associate with aging. Apparently, folic acid isn't the only chemical at work in strawberries and other fruits and vegetables that can protect your brain.

Researchers tested the effect of fisetin, a naturally occurring flavonoid found in strawberries, tomatoes, onions and apples, on mice given a single dose before a battery of memory tests. The mice given fisetin recalled familiar objects, giving them quicker looks before gravitating to newer ones.

Fisetin also activates signaling pathways that also play a role in the formation of memories, a process called long-term potentation (LTP) allowing memories to be stored in the brain by improving the connections between neurons. In fact, it worked nearly as well as the drug Rolipram to enhance memory.

The only down side: Scientists claim you'd have to eat 10 pounds a day of strawberries chock full of fisetin to make a difference, yet, at the same time, point out there's probably little financial interest in testing it against existing Alzheimer's therapies anyway.

Another reminder, there are many steps you can take to protect your brain and memory without relying on an expensive drug that will likely do you more harm than good.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences October 18, 2006

Science Blog October 17, 2006

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