Anytime you want to add color to your oatmeal, cereal, fruit salad, or dessert, strawberries usually get the job done. They are colorful, tasty, and seem to go with everything. Strawberries are known to contain many health benefits. They are packed with antioxidants such as vitamin C and they are rich in manganese, fiber, folic acid, and potassium.
Strawberries also promote weight loss, eye health, bone health, and they even improve your short-term memory; however, did you know they help reduce your cholesterol as well?
According to a recent study from the Università Politecnica delle Marche (UNIVPM, Italy) and colleagues from the Universities of Salamanca, Granada, and Seville (Spain), strawberries significantly lowered LDL (low-density lipoprotein) or “bad” cholesterol and triglycerides in a group of 23 healthy volunteers who consumed half a kilo (500 g) of strawberries a day for over a month.
While “good” high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol stayed the same, LDL levels dropped to 13.72% and the quantity of triglycerides was reduced to 20.8%. The study also found that strawberry consumption improves other parameters like antioxidants biomarkers (such as oxygen radical absorbance or vitamin C), the general plasma lipid profile, platelet function, and antihemolytic defences. The parameters would return to their original values 15 days after the strawberry study.
“This is the first time a study has been published that supports the protective role of the bioactive compounds in strawberries in tackling recognized markets and risk factors for cardiovascular disease,” said Maurizio Battino, director of the study.
Why Strawberries Lower Cholesterol
It all sounds very exciting; however, what is behind the cholesterol-lowering effects and cardiovascular benefits of strawberries?
The researchers behind the study said there is no direct evidence supporting which compounds have the beneficial effects of strawberries.
However, several other studies have suggested that strawberries’ phytonutrients, in particular the anthocyanins, are responsible for their cardiovascular benefits. The anthocyanins give strawberries their red color.
The other studies documented had participants consume one to two cups of strawberries daily over a one- to three-month period. The results also indicated reduced fat circulation levels (lowered total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol). The studies also found lower fat oxidation (lipid peroxidation) in the cell membranes of the cells that line blood vessels, and a reduction of angiotensin I-converting enzyme (ACE) activity. Increased high blood pressure risk is typically the result of ACE’s over-activity.
A 2013 Harvard University study also found that strawberry consumption could lower women’s heart attack risk.
Strawberries are also potent in pectin, which is a soluble fiber known to reduce LDL cholesterol as well.
Other Strawberry Considerations
When you do purchase strawberries, it is always best to go for organic. Strawberries are part of the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen, which are foods at risk of high pesticide exposure. And, although strawberries seem to go with everything, one of the top rules when it comes to digestion is fruits should be eaten alone. Stick with the strawberry fruit salad instead of adding them to everything. It will benefit you with digestion, lowering cholesterol, and the many other amazing health benefits of strawberries.
The Foods4BetterHealth Bottom Line
Aside from the cholesterol-lowering benefits, strawberry consumption also helps with ultraviolet radiation protection, lowers alcohol damage from the gastric mucosa, improves antioxidant capacity of blood, and helps strengthen red blood cells or erythrocytes.
Do you really need any more reasons to eat your strawberries?
“Strawberries lower cholesterol, study suggests,” ScienceDaily web site, Feb. 25, 2014; http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140225101256.htm
“11 foods that lower cholesterol,” The Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide web site; http://www.health.harvard.edu/fhg/updates/11-foods-that-lower-cholesterol.shtml, last accessed March 25, 2014.
“Strawberries lower cholesterol, study suggests,” CTV News web site, Feb. 26, 2014; http://www.ctvnews.ca/health/strawberries-lower-cholesterol-study-suggests-1.1704411.
“Strawberries: What New and Beneficial About Strawberries,” The World’s Healthiest Foods web site; http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=32, last accessed March 24, 2014.
Herrington, D., “10 Super Health Benefits of Strawberries,” Care2 Healthy Living web site, July 24, 2013; http://www.care2.com/greenliving/10-super-health-benefits-of-strawberries.html.