Researchers from Toronto, Canada studied the effect of adding strawberries, as a source of antioxidants, to improve the response to a cholesterol-lowering diet.
First, the details.
28 people with high cholesterol levels followed a diet of soy, viscous fiber, plant sterol, and nuts for about 2.5 years.
Then, they were randomly assigned to take supplements of strawberries (454 grams/day, 112 kcal) or more oat bran bread (65 grams/day, 112 kcal).
They took the strawberries or bran for a month, and then switched to the bran or strawberries — crossover design.
And, the results.
Eating strawberries resulted in a significantly greater reduction in oxidative damage due to LDL (bad) cholesterol as measured as thiobarbituric acid-reactive substances in the LDL cholesterol.
That’s a good thing.
After eating the strawberries, reductions in LDL cholesterol and the ratio of total to HDL (good) cholesterol were maintained close to 1-year values of the diet, and were similar to the post-oat bran values.
Strawberries also improved the palatability of the diet.
The bottom line?
The authors concluded, “Strawberry supplementation reduced oxidative damage to LDL while maintaining reductions in blood lipids and enhancing diet palatability. Added fruit may improve the overall utility of diets designed to lower coronary heart disease risk.”
A more recent report published this year supports these findings. Researchers from Oklahoma State University, in Stillwater, concluded, “Short-term supplementation of freeze-dried strawberries appeared to exert hypocholesterolemic effects and decrease lipid peroxidation in women with metabolic syndrome.”
Research dietitian Sandra Hannum from the University of Illinois in Urbana tells us that aside from their nutritional value, strawberries contain bioactive compounds, including ellagic acid, and certain flavonoids: anthocyanin, catechin, quercetin and kaempferol. These compounds are potent antioxidants that help lower the risk of cardiovascular events by inhibiting LDL-cholesterol oxidation (that good thing mentioned above), promoting plaque stability, improving vascular endothelial function, and decreasing tendency for thrombosis.
John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at www.Vicus.com, a complementary and alternative medicine website.