A review in The Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences summarized the latest research on how strawberries may prevent chronic disease.
Fruit and vegetable consumption is associated with a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and cancer. Strawberries are especially powerful disease fighters because they contain a high concentration of ‘bioactive compounds,’ including phenolics (such as anthocyanins, responsible for their vibrant red color); vitamins C and folate; and minerals like manganese, potassium, and magnesium. Both in vitro and in vivo studies have concluded that strawberries have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiatherosclerotic and anticarcinogenic properties.
The review covered the following categories:
Strawberries and Inflammation
Chronic, low-grade inflammation contributes to the development of chronic diseases like Alzheimer’s disease, cardiovascular disease, and type 2 diabetes mellitus. Both in vitro and in vivo studies found that strawberries suppressed the production of pro-inflammatory proteins and increased the production of anti-inflammatory proteins.
Strawberries and Cardiovascular Disease (CVD)
Cardiovascular disease, including heart attack, heart failure, arrhythmia, and stroke are responsible for 17.7 million deaths a year (approximately 31% of all deaths worldwide) according to the World Health Organization. Strawberry consumption has been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by improving blood vessel function, blood sugar levels, and cholesterol levels, boosting antioxidant levels, and reducing inflammation. One 18-year prospective cohort study of young and middle-aged women found that those who consumed at least three servings of anthocyanins from strawberries and blueberries every week had a decreased risk of heart attack.
Strawberries and Cancer
Strawberries have a high concentration of cancer-fighting vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals. These compounds target cancer cell initiation and proliferation. In a number of cell studies, strawberry extract inhibited the growth of prostate cancer, cervical cancer, ovarian cancer, melanoma and leukemia. Some in vitro breast cancer studies found that strawberries caused cancer cells to self-destruct or modulated gene expression to stop “highly aggressive and invasive” cells from spreading. While there are limited results from human prospective studies, results from animal models are promising.
Journal source: Giampieri F, Forbes-Hernandez TY, Gasparrini M, et al. (2017). The healthy effects of strawberry bioactive compounds on molecular pathways related to chronic diseases. Ann NY Acad Sci. doi: 10.1111/nyas.13373