An apple a day keeps the doctor away… and so will a handful of strawberries.
Strawberries are well known for their array of antioxidants. They are also rich in folate, potassium and vitamin C. And they are an excellent source of the powerful anti-cancer nutrient, ellagic acid.
Now, a new study has shown a specific way that this sweet summer treat protects your body from disease. Dr. Paul Thornalley led the research study at Warwick Medical School in the U.K.
“We’ve discovered the science behind how strawberries work to increase our in-built defenses to keep cells, organs and blood vessels healthy,” said Dr. Thornalley.
Extracting the Findings
Dr. Thornalley and his team began their research to understand the beneficial effects of strawberries. That’s when they stumbled upon their discovery. They found that the extracts from the strawberries activated a protein in our bodies called Nrf2.1
And therein lays the breakthrough…
Once activated, Nrf2 boosts your body’s internal production of antioxidants. It increases certain enzymes which remove toxins from cells. And it has also been shown to lower cholesterol levels in the blood.
But how exactly does Nrf2 work?
Researchers from the University of Wisconsin have studied the effects of Nrf2. Their findings were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.2
In this study, cells with high levels of Nrf2 were transplanted into the brains of mice. Then the mice were exposed to toxins which are known to kill neurons. The results were startling. The mice showed no signs of toxicity.
Dr. Jeff Johnson, who led the study, commented on what happens when the Nrf2 protein is activated.
“Not only do you increase the cell’s endogenous antioxidants,” said Dr. Johnson, “You’re also increasing the enzymes that remove toxicities from the cell.”
And the protection is not just limited to what’s inside that cell. The study also found that cells with high levels of Nrf2 protect those around them.
So how do you raise your levels of this protective protein? According to Dr. Thornalley’s research at Warwick, it’s as simple as adding strawberries to your diet.
Dr. Thornalley suggests that the benefits of strawberries are especially helpful for those with metabolic syndrome and signs of heart disease. This is especially important, considering that heart disease claims roughly one million lives each year in the U.S.3
Dr. Thornalley will be presenting his research at the 16th meeting for the Society for Free Radical Research International (SFRRI). His team will continue their research to determine the best variety of strawberries to eat. They will also try to determine the best way to serve them for optimum health benefits.
But you don’t have to wait. Next time you’re at the store, be sure to pick up a carton or two of fresh strawberries. Just be sure to always choose organic. Strawberries are one of the crops most heavily sprayed with pesticides.