Strawberries Activate Proteins That Prevent Diabetes and Heart Disease

By Chelsea Whyte on July 5, 2012 7:13 PM EDT

Strawberries
This sweet summer fruit just a got a little better. Research shows that snacking on strawberries can help keep your heart healthy. (Photo: Creative Commons: David Blackw)

Strawberries are a delicious summertime treat, and they just got a little bit sweeter. Scientists at the University of Warwick have been studying the beneficial effects of strawberries and how they prevent the development of heart disease and diabetes.

They discovered that extracts from the berries activate a protein in our bodies called 'Nrf2" which has been showed to increase antioxidants and other protective activities in the body. The protein reduces fats in the blood and lowers cholesterol, two things that contribute to cardiovascular problems.

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Previous research had shown that strawberries helped blocked glucose transport between tissue and helped reduced "bad" cholesterol, which would in turn lower the risk of diabetes and heart disease, reports Medical Daily.

Strawberries can also help counteract blood sugar spikes that occur after eating a meal. A past study also found fisetin - a flavonoid found in strawberries - might help prevent type 1 and type 2 diabetes complications of kidney and brain disease that can lead to Alzheimer's, according to eMaxHealth.

Now, researchers at the University of Warwick are going back to the drawing board to further help identify the best varieties of strawberries, how they are served or processed and how many strawberries should be eaten for optimum health benefit, according to Counsel & Heal.

"We've discovered the science behind how strawberries work to increase our in-built defences to keep cells, organs and blood vessels healthy and which can reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular problems such as heart disease and diabetes. So don't feel guilty about serving up strawberries and cream ... although I'd suggest more strawberries and less or even no cream!"

Be it Wimbledon fans - who make a tradition of snacking on strawberries and cream - or backyard BBQ-ers, everyone can enjoy a strawberry dessert this summer with the comforting thought that the fruity fare includes a mighty serving of beneficial protein-triggering extracts. 

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