Local strawberries are ripening well ahead of schedule in Chesapeake and Virginia Beach, as well as on the Eastern Shore. If you’re like me, you can practically feel the sweet, sticky juice run down your chin as you think about making an early evening or weekend trip to a pick-your-own farm.
You’ve held close to memories like that since childhood. As an adult, maybe you fell in love with strawberries and champagne. At any age, what beats strawberries topping cake and ice cream? These are delights you hope you’ll never forget.
Now, evidence from a large study of brain health in aging women shows that as long as you keep eating plenty of strawberries and blueberries, you may never have to surrender those reveries.
Researchers led by Dr. Elizabeth Devore from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School administered cognitive function tests to thousands of women older than 70 who had filled out decades of surveys documenting how many berries they ate. The women who had consumed the most strawberries during their lifetimes performed the best on the tests.
In fact, the women with the highest berry intakes had brains 2.5 years “younger” than women who shunned strawberries and blueberries. More complete data was published on the Annals of Neurology website on April 25.
“Our findings have significant public health implications as increasing berry intake is a fairly simple dietary modification,” Devore told AFP.
The brain-protective properties of strawberries come from their high flavonoid (especially quercetin) and antioxidant concentrations. Those compounds — in particular the antioxidant vitamins A, C and E — have already been shown to protect people against heart disease and diabetes. Add cognitive decline to the list of problems eating strawberries can delay.
Find out about all the good nutrients strawberries offer. And don’t forget the Pungo Strawberry Festival in Virginia Beach, scheduled this year for May 26-27 (map to the left).