Strawberries Have Great Health Benefits

Connie K. Ho for — Your Universe Online

The sun´s out, there´s a blue sky, the birds are chirping. All these things can only mean one thing — summer is here. One of the fruits that should be consumed this summer is strawberries. While strawberries symbolize certain aspects of summer sports events like Wimbledon, investigators have identified certain health benefits of the fruit. In particular, researchers at the University of Warwick recently found that strawberries provide a number of benefits to the body´s cardiovascular health, especially in preventing problems related to heart disease and diabetes.

The study was led by Paul Thornalley, a professor at the Warwick Medical School, and supported by funding from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC). His team found extracts from strawberries that can possibly activate Nrf2, a protein in the body that increases antioxidants and jumpstarts other defense mechanisms. The protein has also been beneficial in decreasing blood lipids and cholesterol, which may lower the risk of cardiovascular problems.

Furthermore, past studies have shown that consuming strawberries can counter post-meal blood glucose and low density-lipoprotein, which is otherwise known as bad cholesterol. As such, strawberries can decrease the chances of diabetes and heart disease. In particular, the Warwick Medical Study was the first project to prove that strawberry extracts have been shown to jumpstart proteins that can protect the body against certain illnesses.

“We´ve discovered the science behind how strawberries work to increase our in-built defenses to keep cells, organs and blood vessels healthy and which can reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular problems such as heart disease and diabetes,” explained Thornalley in a prepared statement. “So don´t feel guilty about serving up strawberries and cream “¦ although I´d suggest more strawberries and less or even no cream.”

The researchers hope that further research, featuring screening and mathematical modeling techniques from the University of Warwick, will help them determine what the best types of strawberries are. They are also interested in looking at the various ways in which strawberries are served or processed, hoping to have a better understanding of how strawberries should be eaten to allow for the best health possible.

Thornalley plans to publicize the research at the upcoming 16th biennial meeting for the Society for Free Radical Research International (SFRRI), which will take place at Imperial College London.

Lastly, there are a few ways in which strawberries can be incorporated into the daily diet.

The Los Angeles Times offered some tips in terms of finding and storing the right strawberries. One tip suggested that strawberries be chosen based on smell rather than size, as the odor can give off the flavor and the freshness of the fruit. After buying strawberries at the market, the fruit should be held at room temperature for as long as possible because chilling will make it lose its taste. Before taking a bite of the strawberry, it´s also best to wash it multiple times before cutting off the green stalks as this will help stop the fruit from soaking up the moisture and retain its flavor.