It’s quite fitting that strawberries are shaped like small red hearts, given the luscious fruit’s potential heart health benefits. For the past 20 years, nutrition researchers have found that strawberries may reduce the risk of a heart attack and stroke in women,[i],[ii] reduce total and LDL (the bad) cholesterol[iii],[iv],[v] and improve blood pressure.[vi] Now, a new study builds on that research by demonstrating that the equivalent of one cup of strawberries daily reduced total and LDL cholesterol in overweight and obese men and women.[vii] The study was led by Pennsylvania State University and was supported by the California Strawberry Commission.
Strawberries contain many beneficial nutrients and plant-based substances that may contribute to its heart health benefits. In addition to being an excellent source of vitamin C, fiber, folate and potassium, the scrumptious red berry also contains compounds found only in plants called phytosterols and polyphenols. They are also naturally low in sugar.
The American Heart Association, which recently released a new heart health checklist, recommends both the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) and Mediterranean Eating Pattern for Americans (MEPA) diets for people with or at risk for heart disease. Both diets encourage people to consume plenty of fruit and the MEPA plan specifically recommends at least two servings of berries per week.
One serving of strawberries is 8 berries. To add them to your heart health routine, you can enjoy them as a snack, toss them into a salad or your morning oatmeal, blend them with yogurt for a refreshing smoothy or with a dollop of low-calorie whipped cream for a yummy dessert. You can find serving ideas and recipes here.
i. Cassidy A, Mukama, KJ, Liu L, Franz M, Eliassen AH, Rimm EB. High anthocyanin intake is associated with a reduced risk of myocardial infarction in young and middle- aged women. Circulation. 2013;127(2). doi: 10.1161/circulationaha.112.122408
ii. Gao Q, Dong JY, Cui R, Muraki I, Yamagishi K, Sawada N, Iso H, Tsugane S; Japan Public Health Center-based Prospective Study Group. Consumption of flavonoid-rich fruits, flavonoids from fruits and stroke risk: a prospective cohort study. Br J Nutr. 2021 Jan 29:1-8. doi: 10.1017/S0007114521000404. Epub ahead of print.
iii. Basu A, Betts NM, Nguyen A, Newman ED, Fu D, Lyons TJ. Freeze-dried strawberries lower serum cholesterol and lipid peroxidation in adults with abdominal adiposity and elevated serum lipids. J Nutr. 2014;144:830-837. doi: 10.3945/jn.113.188169
iv.Gao Q, Qin LQ, Arafa A, Eshak ES, Dong JY. Effects of strawberry intervention on cardiovascular risk factors: a meta-analysis of randomisedrandomized controlled trials. Br J Nutr. 2020 Aug 14;124(3):241-246. doi: 10.1017/S000711452000121X.
v. Hadi A, Askarpour M, Miraghajani M, Symonds ME, Sheikhi A, Ghaedi E. Effects of strawberry supplementation on cardiovascular risk factors: a comprehensive systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Food Funct. 2019 Nov 1;10(11):6987-6998. doi: 10.1039/c9fo01684h.
vi. Feresin RG, Figueroa A, Johnson SA, et al. Daily consumption of strawberries improves plasma nitric oxide and adiponectin levels in pre- and stage 1-hypertensive postmenopausal women. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2015;115(9):A-42. doi: 10.1016/j.jand.2015.06.142
vii. Chesney K. Richter, Ann C. Skulas-Ray, Trent L. Gaugler, Stacey Meily, Kristina S. Petersen & Penny M. Kris-Etherton (2022) Randomized Double-Blind Controlled Trial of Freeze-Dried Strawberry Powder Supplementation in Adults with Overweight or Obesity and Elevated Cholesterol, Journal of the American Nutrition Association, DOI: 10.1080/07315724.2021.2014369iii