Studies showcase health benefits of strawberries

Just in time for National Strawberry Month, three new, major studies reveal strawberries may improve vascular health in at-risk adolescents, reduce inflammation in obese adults, and improve cognition in older adults. strawberries

Presented  at the 2016 Experimental Biology Conference in San Diego, CA, new research detailed the good news about strawberries, revealing:

  • Strawberries may help improve vascular health in at-risk adolescents
    This is the first study to test the impact of freeze-dried strawberry powder (FDSP) on markers of vascular health in at-risk adolescents. Previous research in adults found a promising inverse relationship between FDSP consumption and the risk of cardiovascular disease.

In a randomized, double-blind, crossover study, 25 overweight or obese males between ages 14-18 consumed 50 grams of FDSP or a calorically equivalent amount of control powder every day for a week. Before and after each test period, measures of vascular health were collected at baseline and one hour after FDSP intake.

Researchers discovered significant improvements in inflammation and vascular function.Plasma nitrite/nitrate levels spiked on the first study day, just one hour after consuming FDSP, and again after one week of intake, indicating an immediate anti-inflammatory effect (this response was not observed with the control powder). They also found an acute increase in the Framingham reactive hyperemia index after one week of FDSP consumption, which indicates improved vascular function.

The results support the premise that strawberries can promote vascular health and may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease in overweight and obese adolescent males.

  • Strawberry Flavonoids May Reduce Inflammation in Obese Adults
    Berry flavonoids have demonstrated anti-inflammatory effects in experimental models, but there haven’t been many robust studies in humans. In this 12-week, randomized, dose-response controlled trial, researchers examined the effects of strawberry flavonoids on inflammatory biomarkers in adults.

Sixty adult volunteers with abdominal obesity and elevated serum lipids were assigned to drink a low-dose freeze-dried strawberry beverage (FDS), a low-dose control, a high-dose FDS beverage, or a high-dose control for 12 weeks. Control beverages were matched for calories and fiber. Inflammatory biomarkers were tested at baseline and 12 weeks.

After drinking the FDS beverage for 12 weeks, subjects had significantly improved blood nitrite levels compared to the low-dose and control groups. “Typically, obesity and elevated blood lipids have been shown to increase levels of nitrite associated with inflammation, and thus a decrease in nitrite is an anti-inflammatory benefit of strawberries,” explains lead author Arpita Basu, PhD, RD/LD.

Consuming strawberries may help lower certain inflammatory biomarkers, which reduce the risk of chronic disease in obese adults.

  • Dietary Strawberry Improves Cognition in Older Adults
    In one of the first clinical studies designed to determine whether dietary strawberry intake could reverse age-related motor and cognitive decline among healthy older adults, USDA researchers have demonstrated that supplementing older adults’ diets with about two cups per day of strawberries can improve cognition even in the absence of neurological dysfunction.

The research was conducted at the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University and first presented at the 2015 Society for Neuroscience annual meeting in Chicago.

Thirty-seven healthy men and women, age 60-75, consumed either the equivalent of about two cups per day of fresh strawberries in the form of a freeze-dried powder, or an equal amount of a calorie matched control powder containing no strawberries, for 90 days. The participants maintained their normal diet, other than refraining from consuming any berries or berry products during the study. Mobility and cognitive testing was done at day 0, 45 and 90 of the study.

Dietary intervention with strawberry for 90 days led to improvements in spatial memory and word recognition among healthy older adults.  _USNewwire

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