The October issue of Nutrition Journal contains a study that reveals the cholesterol-lowering power of strawberries. Women with at least three features of metabolic syndrome were given a daily beverage containing 25 grams of freeze-dried strawberry powder. Following the four-week testing period, total cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol levels dropped an average of five and six percent, respectively, and plasma ellagic acid was significantly increased.
Considered to be the most popular berry fruit in the world, the over 600 varieties of strawberries have been enjoyed throughout the world for their delicious flavor and countless uses. As they pertain to health, strawberries are increasingly being recognized by modern medicine as a “superfruit”. Loaded with anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer compounds, strawberries are among the most nutritionally-dense fruits available. Among their many attributes are their powerfully high antioxidant levels and their abundance of flavonoids, polyphenols, phytonutrients, and fiber.
Strawberry phenols have the ability to decrease the activity of the cyclo-oxygenase, or COX enzyme whose hyperactivity causes inflammation. Many people take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin or ibuprofen for pain. These drugs are synthetically designed to be COX-inhibitors; however, strawberries contain natural phenols that serve this same purpose without causing intestinal bleeding like artificial drugs do.
Among these phenols are anthocyanins, which function as potent antioxidants that protect cell structures from free radical oxygen damage, and ellagitannins, which have been found in studies to decrease rates of cancer death. The unique blend of beneficial compounds contained within strawberries has been shown to inhibit the proliferation of cancer cells with no specific correlation to antioxidant levels, indicating the idiosyncratic healing composition of strawberries in their whole, complete form.
Strawberries and other fruits rich in vitamin C have been shown in studies to help prevent age-related macular degeneration (ARMD). One such study published in the Archives of Ophthalmology revealed that consuming three or more servings of fruit a day reduces the risk of developing ARMD by more than 36%.
Strawberries have been recognized as a type of “superfruit” because of their high levels of B vitamins as well as vitamin C, manganese, potassium, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin K, magnesium, copper, folate, and riboflavin. The distinct synergy of these nutrients is what constitutes the strawberry as a powerful healing food that is both delicious and plentiful year round.
Though obvious to most, it is important to note that only fresh and frozen strawberries contain the myriad of beneficial compounds that contribute to health and wellness, including the lowering of bad cholesterol. Processed fruit typically loses most if not all of the nutritional content that it originally possessed, so it is important to make this distinction when identifying healthy foods.
When selecting strawberries, also be sure to choose organically-grown varieties. Conventional strawberries have been found to be among the worst fruits for pesticide contamination and residue, prompting the Environmental Working Group to suggest that consumers avoid purchasing strawberries and several other fruits and vegetables unless organically-grown or raised without the use of pesticides.
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