Berries are among the healthiest fruits a person can consume, with a small new study adding to the strawberry's long list of benefits. Recently a group of volunteers ate half a kilo of strawberries a day for a month to determine whether the berry "altered their blood parameters in any way." Significantly lower levels of bad cholesterol and triglycerides followed the treatment's conclusion.
Researchers from the Università Politecnica delle Marche (UNIVPM, Italy) and their colleagues from the Universities of Salamanca, Granada and Seville (Spain) added 500g of strawberries to the daily diets of 23 healthy volunteers and took blood samples before and after the experiment.
Results were published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry and showed that while good cholesterol levels remained the same, low-density lipoproteins (LDL or bad cholesterol) and the quantity of triglycerides fell to 8.78 per cent, 13.72 per cent and 20.8 per cent, respectively.
Other blood parameters also improved following the study's cessation, including general plasma lipid profile, antioxidant biomarkers such as vitamin C, antihemolytic defences and platelet function. These parameters returned to their initial levels 15 days after the experiment ended.
Maurizio Battino, researcher at UNIVPM and Director of the study, said that while which compounds in strawberries offer these benefits is still unknown, "all the signs and epidemiological studies point towards anthocyanins, the vegetable pigments that afford them their red colour."
Anthocyanins are a sub-class of flavonoids that can help dilate arteries and prevent plaque buildup among other cardiovascular benefits.
The research team also confirmed the findings of several other studies on strawberries, including their ability to protect against ultraviolet radiation, reduce damage of alcohol on gastric mucosa, strengthen red blood cells and improve blood's antioxidant capacity.
A 2013 study on the benefits of strawberries and blueberries by the Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University and University of Maryland Baltimore County found the berries improves brain function in a 30-day experiment on rats.
Also in 2013, a Harvard University study found women can reduce their risk of heart attack by consuming strawberries and blueberries due to the berries' anthocyanin content.
Battino and his colleagues plan to publish another study in the journal Food Chemistry showing how consuming strawberries increases blood's antioxidant function. The study will be published later this year.
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