Strawberries are an important fruit in the Mediterranean diet because of their high content of essential nutrients and beneficial phytochemicals, which seem to exert beneficial effects in human health.
Several studies had already demonstrated the antioxidant capacity of strawberries but what if strawberries could lower cholesterol. That is what researchers from Università Politecnica delle Marche (UNIVPM, Italy) in collaboration with colleagues from Universities of Salamanca, Granada and Seville (Spain), set out to answer.
In an analysis 23 healthy volunteers were supplemented daily with 500 g of strawberries for one month. Researchers took blood samples to evaluate plasma lipid profile, circulating and cellular markers of antioxidant status, oxidative stress and platelet function were evaluated at baseline, after 30 days of strawberry consumption and 15 days after the end of the study.
The results showed a high concentration of vitamin C and anthocyanin’s was found in the fruits. Strawberry consumption reduced total cholesterol, the levels of low-density lipoproteins (LDL or bad cholesterol) and the quantity of triglycerides fell to 8.78%, 13.72% and 20.8% respectively. The high-density lipoprotein (HDL or good cholesterol) remained unchanged.
Strawberry supplementation also improved other parameters 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 values 15 days after abandoning ‘treatment’ with strawberries.
The researchers write “Strawberries 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.”
Professor Maurizio Battino, Department of Clinical Sciences and Dentistry Specialist, Section Biochemistry at UNIVPM and corresponding author of this study commented “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.”
The research team acknowledges 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 towards anthocyanins, the vegetable pigments that afford them their red color.”
The research team confirmed in other studies that eating strawberries also protects against ultraviolet radiation, reduces the damage that alcohol can have on the gastric mucosa, strengthens erythrocytes, or red blood cells, and improves the antioxidant capacity of the blood.
This study is published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry.
The research team will be publishing another study this year in the journal ‘Food Chemistry’ in which they will demonstrate that consuming strawberries increases the antioxidant function of blood flow, erythrocytes and mononuclear cells.
Materials provided by The Information and Scientific News Service (SINC)