2 servings of strawberries improve heart, brain health

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Consuming strawberries daily can have several health benefits. Simon Gakhar/Getty Images
  • Berries are generally considered a superfood with many health benefits.
  • Previous studies have shown that berries help alleviate inflammation and help protect certain areas of the body, such as the gut microbiome and the cardiovascular system.
  • San Diego State University researchers say eating the equivalent of two servings of strawberries daily can help improve cognitive function, lower blood pressure and increase a person’s antioxidant capacity.

Generally speaking, berry considered a superfood. That’s because all berries—including acai berries, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries—provide numerous health benefits.

Previous studies have found this consumes berries can help alleviate inflammation and oxidative stress, which can trigger many diseases.

Other studies have linked berry consumption to the benefit and protection of certain areas of the body, including gut microbiota, nervous system, cardiovascular systemand immune system.

Now, new research from San Diego State University says eating strawberries every day can help improve cognitive functionlower blood pressure and increase a person’s antioxidant capacity.

The research was recently presented at NUTRITION 2023the annual meeting of the American Society of Nutrition, and was funded by the California Strawberry Commission.

Dr. Shirin Hooshmandsaid a professor in the School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences at San Diego State University and lead researcher on the study. Medical News Today that the idea for this study came from previous research.

“Before we did our clinical study, some of the similar effects were shown in animal studies and some human studies, but (in) different populations and using different study designs,” she explained.

For this study, Dr. Hooshmand and her team conducted a study with 35 healthy men and women between the ages of 66 and 78. During an eight-week period, the study participants consumed either 26 grams each day freeze-dried strawberry powder – equivalent to two portions of fresh strawberries – or a control powder.

At the end of the eight weeks, the researchers found that those who ate the strawberries increased their cognitive processing speed by 5.2%, lowered their systolic blood pressure by 3.6% and increased their antioxidant capacity by 10.2% compared to those taking the control powder.

Regarding their findings, Dr. Hooshmand that they expected to see an improvement in antioxidant capacity since strawberries are a good source of vitamin C. They also expected to see some improvement in cognitive processing speed based on their hypothesis.

“Previously published research has already shown some of the acute and long-term cardiovascular health benefits of strawberries in different populations, so this is great to confirm some of those findings,” said Dr. Hooshmand when asked about the blood pressure results.

“This study shows that consuming strawberries can promote cognitive function and improve cardiovascular risk factors such as hypertension. We are encouraged that a simple dietary change, such as adding strawberries to the daily diet, can improve these outcomes in older adults.”
— Dr. Shirin Hooshmand

Strawberries (genus Fragaria) was first cultivated in gardens in France in the late 18th century. However, they could be found in nature as far back as Roman times.

Today, strawberries are grown in many parts of the world, including most production occurs in the USA, Turkey and Spain.

Interestingly, although strawberries are considered a “berry,” they are technically an accessory or collected fruit because of how they grow.

Strawberries contain many vitamins and minerals that the body needs to stay healthy, including vitamin A, magnesium, potassium and folate (vitamin B9).

In addition, strawberries are very high in vitamin C – eating just eight strawberries provides the body with its daily vitamin C intake.

And strawberries are known to have a large amount of antioxidants, including polyphenols and phytosterols. Polyphenols have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and phytosterols help lower cholesterol levels.

Previous research has linked strawberry consumption to a reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s diseaseand even potentially help prevent Cancer.

When asked about the plan for the next steps in this research, Dr. Hooshmand that it would depend on acquiring future financing.

“However, we have many great ideas for future studies to follow up on some of our current findings – stay tuned! Additionally, we are currently studying the effects of strawberries on similar and other outcomes as part of a multi-fruit intervention,” she continued .

After reviewing this study, Allison Tallmansaid a registered dietitian and founder of Nourished Routes, who was not involved in the study. Medical News Today what she would like to see next in strawberry-related health research.

“The connection between strawberries and gut health, strawberries and brain health, and strawberries and heart health has been well researched. I would love for there to be more research on strawberries and cancer prevention as they have antioxidant components,” she said.

Experts recommend that most adults eat 1 1/2 to 2 cups of fruit weekday. About eight large strawberries equals one cup of fruit.

Looking for new ways to incorporate more strawberries into your diet? Consider these suggestions from Tallman:

  • Start your day by adding strawberries to a protein-packed smoothie
  • Add strawberries to your lunch by layering them on top of a spinach salad or on a grain bowl
  • Strawberries are a great addition to yogurt parfaits
  • Finally, strawberries are delicious to eat as they are!

And for more ideas, the USDA’s MyPlate program offers a variety healthy recipes highlights strawberries including:

  • Broccoli Strawberry Orzo Salad
  • Pear kebab with strawberry sauce
  • Fruit and yogurt breakfast shake
  • Fantastic fruit muffins
  • Fruit salsa
  • Fruit pizza

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