Forget goji, acai, aronia, maqui, noni and all those other so-called superfruits. The most powerful health-boosting berry of them all may just be the humble ol' strawberry.
Packed with essential nutrients and potent phytochemicals, strawberries may be a beneficial force in lowering cholesterol, according to researchers from Università Politecnica delle Marche (UNIVPM) in Italy and their colleagues at the Universities of Salamanca, Granada and Seville in Spain.
In a recent study, the researchers had 23 healthy volunteers supplement their diets with 500 grams of strawberries daily for one month. Researchers took blood samples to evaluate plasma lipid profile, circulating and cellular markers of antioxidant status, oxidative stress and platelet function at baseline, after 30 days of strawberry consumption, and 15 days after the end of the study, All Voices reports.
Strawberries contain a high concentration of vitamin C and anthocyanins (flavonoid pigments found in red/purplish fruits and vegetables, including purple cabbage, beets, blueberries, cherries, raspberries and purple grapes). The results of the study showed that strawberry consumption reduced total cholesterol, the levels of low-density lipoproteins (LDL or "bad" cholesterol) and triglycerides levels significantly - they fell by 8.78%, 13.72% and 20.8%, respectively. High-density lipoprotein levels (HDL or "good" cholesterol) levels remained unchanged.
In addition, strawberry supplementation also improved other parameters of health, such as the general plasma lipid profile, antioxidant biomarkers (such as vitamin C or oxygen radical absorbance capacity), antihemolytic defenses and platelet function. All parameters returned to their initial levels 15 days after ending the strawberry "treatment."
"Strawberry consumption improves plasma lipids profile, biomarkers of antioxidant status, antihemolytic defenses and platelet function in healthy subjects, encouraging further evaluation on a population with higher cardiovascular disease risk," the researchers write.
"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 study co-author Maurizio Battino of UNIVPM.
The researchers acknowledge that there is no direct evidence about which compounds in strawberries are behind their beneficial effects, "but all the signs and epidemiological studies point towards anthocyanins, the vegetable pigments that afford them their red color."
The study was published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry.
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In other studies, the European research team has shown that 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 blood.
Now that's a superfruit. (And they taste great, too, unlike some of the others, noni.) See ya, acai!