The Bristal Assisted Living Blog

Posted by The Bristal  |  February 13, 2015

Strawberries and Memory Care: The Unlikely Connection


Yes, you read correctly: strawberries. According to recent research conducted by The Salk Institute for Biological Studies, a flavonol found in strawberries, mangoes, cucumber, and other fruits and vegetables, called fisetin, may just help protect the brain against Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and age-related memory loss. The Institute has been studying the potential for fisetin to protect brain health for more than a decade.

Here’s a summary of the study, whose findings were published in Aging Cell. Mice that had been genetically programmed to develop Alzheimer’s disease were given water that was supplemented with fisetin. These mice were compared with others who did not receive fisetin, as well as with normal mice without the Alzheimer’s gene. It turned out that, within nine months, the researchers noted that while the Alzheimer’s mice, as expected, began to lose their way in a water maze, the cognitive abilities of the fisetin-supplemented mice remained similar to those of the genetically normal mice, even though they had been purposely fated to develop Alzheimer’s disease. At the one-year mark, follow-up tests confirmed that the Alzheimer’s-wired and fisetin-fed mice still showed no sign of decline.

So, what the heck is fisetin? The compound has only been identified for little more than a decade, and like quercetin, a similar flavonol, fisetin is a sirtuin-activating compound that mimics many of the natural effects that calorie restriction creates in the body, which by now is pretty much accepted as an effective anti-aging strategy. Granted, fisetin, quercetin, sirtuin and flavonol — that’s a mouthful of syllables to digest. But the basic gist is that these compounds protect brain cells from age-related damage, including even damage from stroke. There’s even a hint that fisetin might be effective in countering the effects of cancer and diabetes, though specific studies need to be done.

How can we get more fisetin in our bodies? Easy, through many of our favorite fruits and vegetables that we already enjoy, with strawberries being the best source — although we’d need to consume 37 to get an adequate dose. No problem; fisetin can also be found in mangoes and cucumbers with the skin left on, apples, persimmons, kiwi, peaches, grapes, tomatoes, and onions.

Like many sources of nutrition, the amount of food you’d need to take in to receive the full benefit is often more than we can realistically consume, which is why scientists are now busy creating fisetin supplements for us to take. In the meantime, however, it certainly can’t hurt your memory, or your taste buds, to uptick your intake of fisetin wherever you can get it . . . especially if the sources include foods such as strawberries and kiwi and mango — oh my!