Strawberries, the traditional summer treat, could offer unexpected health benefits of preventing development of heart disease and diabetes, says a study.
University of Warwick scientists have been studying the beneficial effects of strawberries on cardiovascular health, particularly around how they prevent the development of heart disease and diabetes.
Paul Thornalley, professor at the Warwick Medical School, heads the team that discovered extracts from strawberries positively activate a protein in our bodies called 'Nrf2', which is shown to increase antioxidant and other protective activities.
This protein works to decrease blood lipids and cholesterol, the very things which can lead to cardiovascular problems, said a university statement.
Eating strawberries has previously been found to counter post-meal blood glucose and low density lipoprotein, or 'bad' cholesterol and therefore decrease risk of diabetes and heart disease, but this is the first time that strawberry extracts have been proved to actively stimulate proteins that offer us protection against disease.
Thornalley explained: " We've discovered the science behind how strawberries work to increase our in-built defences to keep cells, organs and blood vessels healthy and which can reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular problems such as heart disease and diabetes."
Screening and math modelling techniques developed at Warwick can now take this research further to help identify the best varieties of strawberries, how they are served or processed and how many strawberries should be eaten for optimum health benefit.
Thornalley will be presenting these findings at the 16th biennial meeting for the Society for Free Radical Research International (SFRRI), Imperial College London.