ANCONA, SpainIncorporating antioxidant-rich strawberries into a daily diet may help lower cholesterol and boost cardiovascular health by significantly reducing levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and triglycerides, according to a new study published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry.
Researchers from the Università Politecnica delle Marche (UNIVPM) in Italy and the Universities of Salamanca, Granada and Seville in Spain conducted a study to examine whether eating a half kilo of strawberries daily altered blood parameters. Researchers added 500g of strawberries to the daily diets of 23 healthy volunteers for one month. They took blood samples before and after this period to compare data.
Results showed that strawberry consumption beneficially influenced the lipid profile by significantly reducing total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and triglycerides levels by 8.78%, 13.72% and 20.80%, respectively. High-density lipoprotein (HDL or good cholesterol) remained unchanged.
Eating strawberries also improved other parameters such as the general plasma lipid profile, antioxidant biomarkers, such as vitamin C or oxygen radical absorbance capacity, antihemolytic defences and platelet function. All parameters returned to their initial values 15 days after removing strawberries from the diet.
This is the first time a study has been published that supports the protective role of the bioactive compounds in strawberries in tackling recognized markers and risk factors for cardiovascular diseases." said lead author Maurizio Battino, researcher at UNIVPM.
Battino added that there is still no direct evidence about which compounds of this fruit are behind their beneficial effects, but all the signs and epidemiological studies point toward anthocyanins, the vegetable pigments that afford them their red color."
The researchers previously found eating strawberries also protects against ultraviolet radiation, reduces the damage that alcohol can have on the gastric mucosa, strengthens red blood cells, and improves the antioxidant capacity of the blood.
The findings support a 2013 study published in the journal Circulation, which found women who eat 3 or more servings of blueberries and strawberries per week reduce their risk of heart attack by 32%. The researchers suggest the protective benefit comes from naturally occurring anthocyanins that may help dilate arteries, counter the buildup of plaque and provide other cardiovascular benefits.