5 top disease-fighting effects of strawberries

Photo courtesy of Vince's Market Ontario

Photo courtesy of Vince’s Market Ontario

Naked or dressed – what’s your preference?

Local strawberry season is indeed an amazing time. These heart-shaped berries are certainly a taste treat whether you enjoy them naked,  with a drizzle of aged balsamic vinegar (shockingly delicious!) or in the form of strawberry shortcake. But they’re so much more than just palate pleasing. They’re packed with a wide assortment of nutritional goodies that offer a growing list of health-promoting benefits.

A recent review on the berries, published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, looked at the clinical studies – those involving humans as opposed to animals – and the results are pretty impressive.  (You may want to get some strawberries right after you finish reading this!) Besides the more traditional and better known nutrients such as vitamin C, folate, potassium,  and fibre, strawberries contain a wealth of compounds with disease-fighting weaponry.

Here are 5 top disease-fighting characteristics of  strawberries:

•    Increased antioxidant power
Measurements of antioxidants in the blood of healthy subjects increased significantly after consumption of fresh, frozen or stored strawberries. So enjoy the local offerings and either freeze your own or shop the freezer case when fresh aren’t available or are too pricey.

•    Potent anti-inflammatory action
Anti-inflammatory foods are hot these days as research show that chronic  inflammation is  associated with numerous common conditions including  heart disease and stroke, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and cancer. Subjects fed a strawberry beverage compared to a placebo had lower  levels of  various inflammatory compounds  such as c-reactive protein  in their blood.

•    Anti-diabetes  effects
Maintaining lower insulin readings following meals offers a range of benefits including protection against the development of type 2 diabetes. Add reduced insulin levels following meals compared to a placebo to the list of strawberries’ health perks. Strawberries also have an impact on blood sugar readings following  sugar consumption.  In one study, subjects had lower blood sugar readings after eating sucrose (table sugar)  when it was eaten with strawberries versus the sugar alone.   Obviously that’s not to say that including strawberries on the menu means that you can eat sugar with abandon.

•    Blood pressure regulating advantages
Besides the potassium contained which is linked to better blood pressure levels, strawberries also supply pigments called anthocyanins (also in blueberries) which reduce high blood pressure risk.

•    Anti-cancer action
Strawberries  are  not only linked to a decreased risk of certain cancers, including head, neck and stomach cancers  but they also decreased the progression of pre-cancerous stomach lesions  as well as the spread of stomach cancer cells themselves.

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Categories: Research Roundup, Whole Foods

Author:Rosie Schwartz

Rosie Schwartz is a Toronto-based consulting dietitian and writer.

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