OKLAHOMA CITY – As little as 130 calories a day can have a significant impact on your cardiovascular health.
That’s about 2.5 cups of strawberries in calories. And it’s the amount a new study, led by doctor and scientist Hal Scofield, MD, of the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation found to help reduce our risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
“This is the ideal health result,” said Scofield, a physician and medical researcher with the OMRF Research Program in Arthritis and Clinical Immunology. “Strawberries do not require a prescription and are available all year round.”
Previous work in Scofield’s laboratory showed that strawberries can have a positive impact on health. But in the new study published in the journal Nutrients, researchers were surprised that such a reasonable amount of the berries could make a difference.
Scofield found that in people with obesity, consuming 32 grams of freeze-dried strawberry powder mixed with water (the equivalent of about 14 ounces of fresh strawberries) every day lowered participants’ blood sugar, improved good lipids, and lowered LDL cholesterol, factors contributing to heart attack and stroke . Study participants also showed improved insulin resistance, an underlying cause of type 2 diabetes.
But like the omega-3s in fish, the researchers found that the natural compounds in strawberries are most beneficial when consumed as part of a whole.
“We know that eating fish has more health benefits than taking fish oil pills. It appears to be the same with strawberries, ”Scofield said, noting that freeze-dried, powdered berries retain the nutrients of fresh berries. “We’re not sure why, but it supports the idea that eating real, whole foods is important.”
Scofield’s lab previously demonstrated that strawberries are an effective anti-inflammatory measure to relieve pain associated with osteoarthritis, the leading cause of disability and joint replacement in adults in the United States
“The idea that strawberries have anti-inflammatory and heart healthy compounds is not new, but applying the benefits directly to certain diseases is,” Scofield said. “The most important thing is to eat well. We are supposed to eat five servings of fruits and vegetables a day. This is just another indicator that the benefits are real. “
Scientists from the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma State University and the University of Nevada in Las Vegas contributed to the work. The research was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health and institutional funds from OUHSC and UNLV.