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Endothelial Function and Blood Pressure May Improve with Strawberry Intake New Research from Illinois Institute of Technology

June 26, 2019
nutrition
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Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is responsible for 25% of deaths in the US. Some of the contributing factors to the disease include inflammation, dyslipidemia, hypercholesterolemia, and hypertension.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend a healthful diet high in fruit and vegetable intake to mitigate these risk factors and prevent CVD. New research shows why those with hypercholesterolemia may specifically choose to eat more strawberries to adhere to this recommendation.

The Research

Scientists from the Department of Food Science and Nutrition at Illinois Institute of Technology presented their findings on strawberry intake and CVD risk factors at Nutrition 2019 in Baltimore on June 9, 2019. In this randomized, double-blinded, controlled, crossover trial, 34 overweight/obese men and women with moderate hypercholesterolemia (age 53 ± 1 years, BMI 31 ± 1 kg m-2, mean ± SD) consumed a strawberry beverage containing 25 grams of freeze dried strawberry powder or energy-matched control beverage twice a day for 4 weeks. Treatment periods were separated by a 4-week washout period. Fasting lipids, glucose, insulin, high sensitive c-reactive protein (hs-CRP), postprandial flow-mediated dilation (FMD) and blood pressure were measured at weeks 0, 4, 8 and 12.

Although no significant differences in lipid profile, glucose, insulin, or hs-CRP were found, %FMD was significantly increased after drinking the strawberry beverage compared to the control after 4 weeks of supplementation (4.3±0.3% versus 3.6±0.3%, respectively, p=0.0096). 

In addition, %FMD was acutely increased one hour after consuming the strawberry beverage (p<0.0001).

The researchers also noticed that although systolic blood pressure (SBP) still increased post-prandially, the increases in SBP were lower after drinking the strawberry beverage (mean 2 hour changes in SBP after strawberry compared to control beverage, 2.3±0.4 versus 3.4±0.4 mmHg, p=0.048).

What this all means is that eating strawberries daily could improve vascular health through FMD and reduced blood pressure. The dose used (50g/day) is equivalent to 3.5 cups of strawberries and the anthocyanins in strawberries are thought to be the biggest contributors to improvement in endothelial function.

Conclusion

The researchers concluded that adding strawberries to the diet on a more frequent basis may have advantages to vascular health.


Source: Xiao, D., Huang, L., Burton-Freeman, B.M., & Edirisinghe, I. (2019, June). Effect of strawberry intake for 4 weeks on vascular endothelial function and blood pressure in adults with moderate hypercholesterolemia. Abstract # P06-128-19. Poster presented at Nutrition 2019, Baltimore, MD. 

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