Eat Right Georgia

What are Sweet, Healthy, and Red All Over? Strawberries, Of Course!

Strawberries are a naturally sweet fruit associated with love- after all; they are both red and heart shaped. So, it isn’t too surprising that this delicious fruit is also good for the heart. Researchers in Oklahoma found that strawberry supplementation decreased certain cardiovascular-related risk factors such as dyslipidemia in subjects with metabolic syndrome (Basu, et al., 2010) while researchers in Ontario, Canada found “reduced oxidative damage to LDL while maintaining reductions in blood lipids and enhancing diet palatability and added fruit may improve the overall utility of diets designed to lower coronary heart disease risk” (Jenkins, et al., 2008). Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health found that women who consumed two or more servings of strawberries a week were less likely to have elevated levels of C - reactive protein (CRP), an inflammation marker potentially associated with increased risk of Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) (Sesso, Gaziano, Jenkins, & Buring, 2007) which could be related to the anthocyanins discussed below.  Other studies indicate strawberries are good for your heart in other ways: they may lower blood pressure, and increase HDL (the good cholesterol) levels. Strawberry seed oil is also rich in polyunsaturated fats- an essential fatty acid that is more heart healthy than saturated fats.

Antioxidant Packed Sweetness
Strawberries are packed with a lot of nutritionally great things such as fiber, potassium, manganese, and folate. They also contain some powerful antioxidants that have shown to fight off cancer in both humans and animals such as vitamin C, anthocyanins, ellagic acid, and quercetin.

More Delicious Benefits
Strawberries contain dietary fiber, water content, and fructose, a natural sugar, a combination which may help to regulate blood glucose levels by slowing down digestion. The dietary fiber in the strawberry may also help in maintaining or losing weight, in accordance with a balanced diet and physical activity, by creating a feeling of satiety and fullness. Strawberries are low in calories and sodium. They are also cholesterol free. The natural sweetness of the strawberry allows an individual to eat them raw or use little sugar when adding to a recipe.

The Bottom Line
Strawberries are relatively easy to find in grocery stores year-round and are packed with beneficial nutrients. While simple to enjoy raw, strawberry recipes are available online and in many recipe books. Looking for some additional resources? Check out the California Strawberries website for recipes, tips on how to store your strawberries, and more.

 

References
Basu, A., Fu, D. X., Wilkinson, M., Simmons, B., Wu, M., Betts, N. M., et al. (2010). Strawberries decrease atherosclerotic markers in subjects with metabolic syndrome. Nutrition Research Journal , 462-469.
Giampieri D. Sc., F., Tulipani Ph.D., S., Alvarez-Suarez, Ph.D., J., Quiles, Ph.D., J., Mezzetti, Ph.D., B., & Battino, Ph.D., D. Sc., M.D. (2012). The strawberry: Composition, nutritional quality, and impact on human health. Nutrition , 9-19.
Jenkins, D., Nguyen, T., Kendall, C., Faulkner, D., Bashyam, B., Kim, D., et al. (2008).The effect of strawberries in a cholesterol-lowering dietary portfolio. Metabolism , 1636-1644.
Sandon RD, L. F. (2010, June 4). RDs Weigh In: What's in a Strawberry? Retrieved March 3, 2012, from Eat Right: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: http://www.eatright.org/Media/Blog.aspx?id=4294968278&blogid=269&terms=strawberry
Sesso, H., Gaziano, J., Jenkins, D., & Buring, J. (2007). Starwberry intake, lipids, C-reactive protein, and the risk of cardiovascular disease in women. Journal of the American College of Nutrition , 303-310.

Contributed by Julie Wallace, Dietetic Intern, Life University

 

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