Cardiologist, author, and heart health expert Dr. Sarah Samaan offers advice on how to live a heart smart life.See all posts »
Strawberries Show Promise in Heart Disease Prevention
Strawberries are a sweet addition to any heart smart diet. They contain a chockfull of nutrients including vitamin C (one cup contains about 150% of our daily requirement), fiber, and a wide range of important antioxidants. Since antioxidants help to protect our cells against heart disease and cancer, they are a hot topic of scientific research.
Obesity is known to increase the risk for heart disease, stroke, cancer, and many other chronic illnesses, due in part to the harmful inflammatory chemicals that excess fat tissue releases into the bloodstream. Dr. Susan Zunino and colleagues at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and University of California, Davis decided to test the idea that strawberries might help reduce risk factors for cardiovascular disease caused by obesity.
In a fascinating study published in the British Journal of Nutrition, 20 obese test subjects were given either dried strawberry powder equivalent to about 2 cups of whole strawberries or a strawberry flavored product that contained no fruit at all. Everything else in the diet, including calories and fat, was kept the same for both groups. After just three weeks on the strawberry supplement, total cholesterol levels dropped, good cholesterol (HDL) numbers rose, and the size of the bad cholesterol (LDL) particles enlarged, rendering it less harmful.
Strawberries are just one of many great antioxidant fruits. While two cups of berries every day might put a dent in your grocery budget, you can get all sorts of antioxidants from many other wallet-friendly fruits, including prunes, cherries, oranges, and grapes. Super vegetable sources include kale, spinach, beets, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts. Replace less healthy choices (like starchy white potatoes and sugary desserts) with some of these power foods, and you’ll keep your heart, mind, and body humming.
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