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New Studies Showcase Key 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.  

Presented in early April 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.

Authors: Roberta R. Holt, Dragana Djurica, Jingyan Ren, Robert M. Hackman, and Carl L. Keen, University of California, Davis.
Poster Title: Effects of a Dietary Strawberry Powder on Parameters of Vascular Health in 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.

Authors: Arpita Basu, Stacy Morris, Nancy M Betts, Angel Nguyen, Dongxu Fu, Timothy J Lyons
Poster Title: Effects of dietary strawberries on inflammatory biomarkers in participants with abdominal obesity and dyslipidemia


• 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. .

Overall the study results suggest that dietary intervention with strawberry fruit may be an effective means of combating age-related cognitive decline.

Authors:  Marshall G. Miller, Nopporn Thangthaeng, Tammy M. Scott, Barbara Shukitt-Hale
Poster Title: Dietary Strawberry Improves Cognition in Older adults: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial

While strawberries are one of America’s favorite fruits, many consumers are not aware of the incredible health benefits.  Providing a unique combination of essential nutrients, dietary fiber and phytochemicals, a serving of eight medium strawberries a day provides more vitamin C per serving than an orange (and 140% of the daily value), a good source of fiber (3 grams), folate and potassium (along with a variety of health-promoting antioxidants) and just 7 grams of sugar.  Clinical research suggests that eating a serving of eight medium strawberries a day may improve heart health, help manage diabetes, support brain health, and reduce the risk of some cancers.

By adding just eight strawberries a day into a daily diet, consumers can reap the incredible health benefits of strawberries. Below are four unique ways to use strawberries on toast, created by Jenna Braddock, R.D.  These two sweet and two savory options can be enjoyed any time of the day and are all quick to prepare, full of flavor, and packed with great nutrition to fuel your body.   


Strawberry Goat Cheese Toast
Toast a slice of whole grain, high fiber bread. Meanwhile, mix together 1 ounce of goat cheese with 8 small, chopped strawberries to create a spread. Spread on warm toast and top with about 10 shelled pistachios or nut of choice.

Cocoa Almond Butter Strawberry Toast
Toast a slice of whole grain, high fiber bread. Spread 2 tablespoons of almond butter on the toast. Layer sliced strawberries on top. Sprinkle with cocoa powder.

Avocado Balsamic Strawberry Toast
Toast a slice of whole grain, high fiber bread. In a small bowl, mash up 1/4 of a Hass avocado with a fork, then spread it on the toast. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons crumbled goat cheese. Layer halved strawberries on top. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar.

Quick White Bean & Pepper Hummus Strawberry Toast
Toast a slice of whole grain, high fiber bread. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine 1/2 cup drained and rinsed white beans, 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil, and a pinch of pepper (or more to taste) and mash with a fork. Spread hummus on toast and layer sliced strawberries on top. Top with chopped, fresh basil.

For more information on California strawberries, as well as additional creative and inspiring recipes, please visit http://www.californiastrawberries.com and http://www.heartoffarmers.com/

For the latest nutrition news on strawberries, visit:  http://www.strawberrynutritionnews.com/