As attention focuses on heart disease this February for American Heart Month, the latest research on strawberries, including their potential heart health benefits, was presented at the 9th biennial Berry Health Benefits Symposium (BHBS) in Tampa, FL. This research adds to the growing body of scientific evidence supporting the role of strawberry consumption in promoting heart health.
According to Britt Burton-Freeman, Ph.D., professor at the Illinois Institute of Technology and BHBS Heart and Healthy Aging Session Chair, “The Global Burden of Disease (GBD) study showed that a diet low in fruit is among the top three risk factors for cardiovascular disease and diabetes. To address the “fruit gap” we need to increase the amount of total fruit consumed as well as the diversity of fruit in the diet. Accumulating evidence in cardiometabolic health suggests that as little as one cup of strawberries per day may show beneficial effects.”
Studies demonstrate that the cardiometabolic benefits of strawberry consumption are multi-faceted and may include decreased total and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, increased vascular relaxation and tone, decreased inflammation and oxidative stress, decreased insulin resistance, and decreased blood sugar. Clinical trials have linked strawberries to improvements in various markers for cardiovascular disease, including lipid levels.
In one randomized controlled crossover trial of 33 obese adults, daily consumption of strawberries at a dose of two-and-a-half cups per day significantly improved insulin resistance and moderately improved high-density lipoprotein (HDL) particle size in comparison to the control group.
“Our study supports the hypothesis that strawberry consumption can improve cardiometabolic risks,” said lead investigator, Arpita Basu, Ph.D., R.D.N., associate professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, “Furthermore, we believe this evidence supports the role of strawberries in a ‘food as medicine’ approach for the prevention of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease in adults.”
Another study with 34 adult men and women with moderate hypercholesterolemia conducted at the Illinois Institute of Technology found that vascular function, as indicated by flow-mediated dilation, improved one hour after strawberry intake.
As one of the most popular and accessible fruits in the U.S., strawberries are a flavor-favorite with consumers. A serving of 8 strawberries (one cup) fulfills the daily recommended value of vitamin C and delivers a host of other nutrients and beneficial bioactive compounds. Available year-round, strawberries offer consumers a versatile and convenient fruit option beloved by kids and adults.