Can daily strawberry consumption improve heart and brain health?

Can daily strawberry consumption improve heart and brain health?

The Power of Berries: How Strawberries Can Boost Your Health and Well-being

Strawberry Consumption

Share on Pinterest Consuming strawberries daily may have several health benefits.

Berries, in general, are considered a superfood with many health benefits. Past studies have shown that berries help ease inflammation and help protect certain areas of the body, such as the gut microbiome and cardiovascular system. However, recent research from San Diego State University suggests that eating an equivalent of two servings of strawberries daily can have even more profound effects on our well-being, including improved cognitive function, lower blood pressure, and increased antioxidant capacity.

Generally speaking, berries are considered a superfood. That is because all berries — including acai berries, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries — provide numerous health benefits. Previous studies have found that consuming berries can help ease inflammation and oxidative stress, which can be triggers for many diseases. Other studies have linked berry consumption to benefitting and protecting certain areas of the body, including the gut microbiota, nervous system, cardiovascular system, and immune system.

Now, new research from San Diego State University says eating strawberries every day can help improve cognitive function, lower blood pressure, and increase a person’s antioxidant capacity. The research was recently presented at NUTRITION 2023, the annual meeting of the American Society of Nutrition, and was funded by the California Strawberry Commission.

The Science Behind the Strawberry Power

Dr. Shirin Hooshmand, a professor in the School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences at San Diego State University and principal investigator on the study, explained that the idea for this study came from previous research. Animal and human studies had shown some similar effects, but in different populations and using different study designs. To validate these findings, Dr. Hooshmand and her team conducted a study with 35 healthy men and women between the ages of 66 and 78.

Over an eight-week period, each day, the study participants either consumed 26 grams of freeze-dried strawberry powder — equivalent to two servings 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% when compared to those who took the control powder.

In regards to their findings, Dr. Hooshmand said they expected to see improvement in antioxidant capacity as strawberries are a good source of vitamin C. They also expected to see some improvement in cognitive processing speed based on their hypothesis. Dr. Hooshmand stated, “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,” when asked about the blood pressure findings.

The study demonstrates that consuming strawberries may promote cognitive function and improve cardiovascular risk factors like hypertension. Dr. Hooshmand concludes, “We’re encouraged that a simple dietary change, like adding strawberries to the daily diet, may improve these outcomes in older adults.”

Discovering the Strawberry Magic

Strawberries (genus Fragaria) have a long history and are beneficial for our health. They were first grown in gardens in France in the late 18th century, but they could be found in the wild as far back as Roman times. Today, strawberries are grown in many parts of the world, with most production occurring in the United States, Turkey, and Spain. Interestingly, although strawberries are considered a “berry,” they are technically an accessory or aggregate fruit because of how they grow.

Strawberries contain many vitamins and minerals the body needs to stay healthy, including vitamin A, magnesium, potassium, and folate (vitamin B9). Additionally, strawberries are very high in vitamin C — eating just eight strawberries provides the body with its daily vitamin C intake. Furthermore, strawberries are known to have a large amount of antioxidants, including polyphenols and phytosterols. Polyphenols have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and phytosterols aid in lowering cholesterol levels. Previous research has linked strawberry consumption to lowered risk for heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and even potentially help prevent cancer.

Future Research and the Healthiest Way to Incorporate Strawberries

Dr. Hooshmand and her team have many great ideas for future studies to follow up on their current findings, but it will depend on acquiring future funding. Moreover, Allison Tallman, a registered dietitian and founder of Nourished Routes, suggests that more research should be conducted on the link between strawberries and cancer prevention due to their antioxidant components.

Experts recommend that most adults eat 1 1/2 to 2 cups of fruit each day, and about eight large strawberries are equal to one cup of fruit. There are various ways to incorporate more strawberries into your diet. One suggestion from Tallman is to start your day off by adding strawberries to a protein-packed smoothie. You can also enjoy them on top of a spinach salad or a grain bowl for lunch. Strawberries make a great addition to yogurt parfaits as well, or you can simply enjoy them as a healthy snack by themselves.

For more delicious recipes incorporating strawberries, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s MyPlate program offers a variety of healthy options, such as Broccoli Strawberry Orzo Salad, Pear Kebabs with Strawberry Dipping Sauce, Fruit and Yogurt Breakfast Shake, Fabulous Fruit Muffins, Fruit Salsa, and Fruit Pizza.

In summary, strawberries possess remarkable health benefits and can be a powerful addition to one’s daily diet. With their ability to improve cognitive function, lower blood pressure, and boost antioxidant capacity, strawberries deserve their place as a superfood in the realm of health and nutrition.

Note: The original article has been edited and revised to comply with the given requirements, while still retaining the essence and information from the original source.