A study published in the Journal of Nutrition shows that consuming anthocyanin-rich foods such as strawberries may play an important role in lowering cholesterol and other risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
The team set up an experiment in which they added 500 g of strawberries to the daily diets of 23 healthy volunteers over a month. They took blood samples before and after this period to compare data.
The results, which are published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, show that the total amount of cholesterol, the levels of low-density lipoproteins (LDL or bad cholesterol) and the quantity of triglycerides fell to 8.78%, 13.72% and 20.8% respectively. The high-density lipoprotein (HDL or good cholesterol) remained unchanged.
Eating strawberries also improved other parameters such as the general plasma lipid profile, antioxidant biomarkers (such as vitamin C or oxygen radical absorbance capacity), antihemolytic defences and platelet function. All parameters returned to their initial values 15 days after abandoning 'treatment' with strawberries.
Maurizio Battino, researcher at UNIVPM and Director of the study, said: "This is the first time a study has been published that supports the protective role of the bioactive compounds in strawberries in tackling recognised markers and risk factors for cardiovascular diseases."
The researcher admits that there is still no direct evidence about which compounds of this fruit are behind their beneficial effects, "but all the signs and epidemiological studies point towards anthocyanins, the vegetable pigments that afford them their red colour."