For a lot of us, our diet revolves around convenience food. Out on a small errand? Grab yourself a Big Mac and you’re good to go. Home late from work? Pull out a frozen dinner and pop it in the microwave.
No matter how quick and easy, these eating habits damage your health. They expose you to huge quantities of low density lipids, or “bad cholesterol,” and pave the way for a variety of health problems such as nutrient imbalance, obesity and even depression.
Now here’s a natural remedy to help counteract bad cholesterol, and put you on track for better eating.
Researchers from Università Politecnica delle Marche in Italy, and the universities of Salamanca, Granada and Seville in Spain have found a novel way to manage the negative impacts of junk and comfort foods. While removing them from your diet is still the best way to reduce the effect these foods have on you, adding strawberries into your diet can have a hugely positive effect on your health.
The research team set up a study where they introduced 500 g of fresh strawberries daily into the diets of 23 healthy volunteers. The volunteers were subjected to blood tests before and after a month of maintaining this new diet.
The results of the study, published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, show that the level of bad cholesterol fell to 13.72 percent. In addition, the total amount of cholesterol and triglyceride levels fell to 8.78 percent and 20.8 percent respectively. Interestingly, high density lipoprotein – good cholesterol – levels remained unchanged.
Low density lipoproteins, or bad cholesterol, circulates in the bloodstream and slowly builds up on the arterial walls. In certain conditions, it may form plaque, a hard substance, that can narrow and even clog arteries. High density lipoproteins, good cholesterol, on the other hand, helps reduce bad cholesterol levels in the bloodstream, making HDL an extremely important component of a healthy diet.
The researchers also noted that strawberry consumption improved other parameters such as blood platelet function, antioxidant biomarkers, and plasma lipid profiles. All of these parameters returned to their original values within 15 days of abandoning the strawberry diet.
This is the first published study that supports the protective role of the bioactive compounds in strawberries, the researchers say. There is no direct evidence about which compound or compounds found in the strawberry is responsible for the beneficial effects. However, if previous research is anything to go by, anthocyanins, the pigment that affords the fruit its deep red color, are most likely the cause. Anthocyanins are flavonoids, potent protectors to ward off health invaders.
Other studies conducted by the team have suggested that strawberries may protect against ultraviolet radiation, improve antioxidant capacities of blood, and reduce the damage that alcohol has on the gastric mucosa. Later this year, the team plans to publish a study in the journal Food Chemistry that demonstrates how strawberries can improve the antioxidant function of blood flow.
All of this data points to the notion that strawberries can be an invaluable component of your health plan. That said, strawberries are easy to incorporate into your diet. Available year-round in grocery stores, they make an excellent addition to salads with their sweet and tangy flavor or a smoothie whipped to perfection in the blender.
And remember, frozen strawberries are also an excellent choice, with nutrients just as comprehensive in frozen as fresh product. With a little honey drizzled over a bowl of these beauties, they make an excellent alternative to unhealthy snacks, so swap out those chocolate bars, chips and candy.
If you feel as though your diet consists of too much comfort food or fast-food takeout, or your doctor says your cholesterol is an issue, give strawberries a go and try some new recipes that feature this healthy super berry.