Strawberries May Reduce Heart Disease Risk

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture
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A recent study from the University of California, Davis and the Illinois Institute of Technology found that strawberries may reduce the risk of heart disease. The popular fruit is rich in flavonoids, important compounds that may improve function of the endothelium -- the cells that line the inside of blood vessels through the entire circulatory system.

In the study, researchers found that strawberries promote a healthy endothelium which supports a healthy cardiovascular system. The loss of proper endothelial function, or endothelial dysfunction, is very common in people with diabetes mellitus, hypertension and other chronic conditions that can increase the risk of heart disease.

For the study, a water-soluble extract of strawberry powder was applied to endothelial tissue in a laboratory model. The extract caused aortic vessels to relax through endothelial- nitric oxide- dependent pathways. The results suggest a beneficial role for strawberry in the management of blood pressure and heart disease risk.

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Dr. Britt Burton-Freeman, Director of Nutrition at the National Center for Food Safety and Technology at the Illinois Institute of Technology and Assistant Research Nutritionist at the University of California, Davis has been involved in this and other studies regarding obesity and chronic disease research for more than 15 years. Her current research includes developing dietary strategies in conjunction with lifestyle changes for long-term treatment and management of obesity and related diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes and some cancers. She uses clinical, plant and basic science methodologies to study the effects of diet and dietary constituents on key processes contributing to healthy and pathogenic outcomes in humans.

In a recent presentation to members of the American Dietetic Association, Dr. Burton-Freeman said, "Strawberries contain a variety of bioactive compounds that can promote longevity and quality of life. For humans, these compounds can act as antioxidants, serve as anti-inflammatory agents, improve cell to cell communication, cause cancer cells to die, detoxify carcinogens -- a number of benefits consistent with health and disease risk reduction."

She ended by saying, "Strawberries present a wonderful opportunity to achieve a higher quality of life, so we can live well at all ages -- providing a foundation for youth, but also as we move into our older years considering ways in which we can age in the healthiest way possible."

Strawberries not only taste great, but research now further shows that they are good for your heart, blood vessels and support a healthy blood pressure. They also contain vitamin C, folate, potassium and fiber.

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