New Clinical Research Shows Vitamin C-Packed Strawberries Have Positive Health Impact

WATSONVILLE, Calif. Six studies on strawberries’ health impacts will be presented at Nutrition 2020, the annual American Society for Nutrition meeting where professionals gather to advance nutrition science and its practical application.  

The studies will be the subject of virtual presentations June 1-4. Covering the gut microbiota, cardiovascular, metabolic, and cognitive domains, the scientific research presented will highlight the potential outcomes strawberry consumption may have on human health.   

Changes in the Gut Microbiome  

Based on the polyphenol and fiber content of strawberries, one study investigated whether consuming 2 servings of strawberries would lead to changes in the composition of gut bacteria. Results indicated that after four weeks of eating strawberries, the gut bacteria did change, which was partially reversed two weeks after returning to a regular diet without strawberries. 

A similar study found that including strawberries regularly in the diet may have the potential to decrease inflammation of the colon and promote gut health. 

A third study’s preliminary data set found that the equivalent of 3 servings of strawberries was associated with a significant increase in a type of bacteria which may help improve heart health. This study provides evidence that vascular improvements may be driven in part by changes in the gut bacteria. 

Heart Health 

Two of the studies focus on determining how much strawberry is needed to improve cholesterol in high-risk adults. Both studies saw a significant decrease in low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol after participants consumed daily beverages of water mixed with freeze-dried strawberry powder.  

One study suggested 2.5 servings per day were needed, while the other study saw significant improvements in LDL cholesterol with just 1 serving of strawberries per day. Dr. Skulas-Ray, lead researcher on the second study, concluded, ”Our results suggest that 1 serving of strawberries per day may improve cholesterol levels in adults with overweight or obesity.” 

Additionally, preliminary data on strawberries’ effects on heart health showed a trend toward improved vascular function compared to the control after four weeks of 3 servings of strawberries.

Metabolic Health 

Two studies investigated strawberries’ impact on metabolic health.  

Preliminary data on 30 high-risk participants indicate a significant reduction in insulin resistance (HOMA-IR) after consuming a strawberry beverage daily. “Individuals at risk for diabetes may benefit from consuming two and half servings of whole strawberries and experience improved insulin function within four weeks,” Dr. Arpita Basu, the lead researcher of the study, concluded.  

The other study’s initial analysis suggests adults at high risk for heart disease experienced a decrease in fasting blood sugars after they consumed the equivalent of 3 servings of strawberries per day. 

Brain Health 

The final project used data from the Rush Memory and Aging Project to look at associations between strawberry intake among older adults and the development of Alzheimer’s Disease. A trend emerged showing an association between those who ate the most strawberries and a decrease in neuro-fibrillary tangles, one of the characteristic hallmarks of Alzheimer’s Disease.  

“Our study found higher dietary intake of a bioactive- pelargonidin, that is primarily present in strawberries- may lower the Alzheimer’s Disease brain pathology in older adults,” said study author Dr. Puja Agarwal. The researchers concluded that strawberries should be further studied for their role in brain health.   

While strawberries are known for their complete daily value of vitamin C, 3g of fiber, and potassium and folate content, they are also rich in flavonoids. Because of these flavonoids, strawberries have been identified to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that improve gut bacteria, cardiovascular, metabolic, and brain function. 

About California Strawberries  

The California Strawberry Commission represents more than 400 strawberry farmers, shippers, and processors, proudly working together to advance strawberry farming for the future of our land and people. Commission programs create opportunities for success through groundbreaking programs focused on workforce training, strawberry production research, and nutrition research. Through science-based information and education, we deliver good news about sustainable farming practices that benefit the health of people, farms, and communities.