These small red, inverted pear shaped fruits are one of the icons of summer fruits. You can dip them in dark chocolate for a sweet dessert, add them in a summer fruit salad or make a smoothie. Not only do they taste great, but they have health effects beneficial for your body such as for the cardiovascular system. Yes, I’m talking about strawberries.
Effects on the Cardiovascular System
Strawberries have enormous amounts of vitamin C. It may be hard to imagine, given that it has usually come to an understanding that citrusy fruits like lemons, grapefruits and oranges have the most vitamin C, but in actuality strawberries contain more vitamin C than these fruits per 100 grams. The only other kinds of fruits that have higher vitamin C content are fruits you would normally not find in a shop, rather they are found specially in natural environments around the world. Vitamin C, also called ascorbic acid, is an important antioxidant that has been proven to be beneficial for good cardiovascular health. It can help control high blood pressure and it can protect against blood vessel changes that occur before heart disease. One study found that it can prevent atherosclerosis, which is a result of hardening and narrowing of arteries. In the early stages of atherosclerosis, white blood cells called monocytes migrate and stick to the walls of the blood vessel lining. Once this process begins, our vessel walls begin to thicken and lose their elasticity, which paves the way for atherosclerosis. Researchers found that vitamin C reduces the rate at which monocytes adhere to the walls.
Strawberries are known to have up to 19 other potent phytonutrients that work as antioxidants and anti-inflammatory substances. All of these work together to provide other cardiovascular health benefits – decreasing the conversion of fats into smaller fatty acids in the cell membranes of cells that line our blood vessels, decreased levels of circulating fats including total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) and decreasing the activity of angiotensin I-converting enzyme (ACE), an enzyme whose over-activity increases our risk of high blood pressure.
Effect of Blood Sugar
Strawberries contain natural sugar and decrease blood sugar spikes that occur from unnatural table sugar and foods that contain table sugar. Strawberries contain ellagitannins, which are polyphenols responsible for inhibiting the activity of an enzyme called alpha-amylase. This enzyme breaks down amylose starches into simple sugars. Due to this, fewer simple sugars might be released into the blood stream when activity of this enzyme is reduced, lowering blood sugar levels.
More study is required to develop the idea that strawberries have anti-cancer benefits, but the research that has been done so far gives evidence that strawberries may indeed have anti-cancer properties and lower the risk of some cancers. Most of the tumor-inhibiting studies have focused on the phytonutrient content of strawberries. Among the strawberry phytonutrients, ellagic acid and ellagitannins have emerged as anti-cancer substances of special interest.
Strawberries are tasty and delicious and versatile fruits as they can be consumed as a dessert, smoothie or in a fruit salad. They also contain a high water content, as much as watermelon! This makes them perfect summer fruits. Make sure you have 2-3 servings of strawberries a week to get the best possible health benefits out of them.