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California Strawberries pack a powerful nutritional punch!

Essential vitamins, fiber, potassium and phytochemicals. One serving of strawberries - about 8 strawberries - is an excellent source of vitamin C. In fact, a serving of strawberries provides more vitamin C than an orange!

Fiber is considered by the American Heart Association to be important for heart health. Epidemiological studies report that people who eat higher amounts of total fiber have a lower risk of heart disease.

Potassium is an important nutrient to balance electrolytes, aid muscle contractions and maintain a healthy blood pressure.

Antioxidants (including vitamin C) are key to warding off chronic diseases and promoting optimum health. Strawberries are an excellent source of vitamin C. Research shows that the antioxidants in strawberries are efficiently absorbed within one hour after being eaten. Once absorbed, antioxidants fight free radical compounds that can cause chronic illnesses.

In a recent study strawberries ranked second among the top ten fruits in antioxidant capacity (TAC), which is one reason why they may help prevent cancer and heart disease.

Folate may prevent some types of birth defects. It also reduces serum levels of homocysteine, an amino acid that may be an independent risk factor in heart disease.

In addition to traditional nutrients, strawberries are also rich in phenolic compounds such as flavonoids and elagic acid, which are the focus of intense study due to their antioxidant, anticancer and antimutagenic properties. The majority of flavonoids in strawberries are anthocyanins, the compounds responsible for the blue, red and purple hues of berries, grapes and other fruits.

Consumers are increasing their reliance on the distinctive red heart with the white check mark as a quick and easy way to ensure them of heart-healthy choices at the grocery store. When they see this mark on more than 800 certified food packages, they know the food inside meets the American Heart Association's strict criteria for low levels of total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol.

Strawberries are setting the direction of nutrition research in the 21st century. Today nutrition scientists are looking beyond the traditional vitamins and minerals - as imortant as those are - to characterize and understand the actions of hundreds of other compounds in plant foods, as well as the protective power of the whole foods themselves.

Strawberries are one of nature's healthiest "packages" of power nutrients. Moreover, they're one of the tastiest! In the coming years, the completion of exciting new research should provide even more reasons to enjoy strawberries year-round.

The California Strawberry Commission has funded over $2 million in nutrition research including 2009 studies.

Strawberries and Cognitive Function

Age-related declines in cognitive function have been related to both oxidative stress and inflammation. Because of their high antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities, strawberries are being studied for their ability to slow or prevent such decline.

Researchers at the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, showed that strawberry extract slowed the age-related decline in cognitive function.

New studies are being conducted by the same research group to determine the effect of strawberry supplementation on (1) behavioral aging; (2) the repair and regeneration of nerve cells in aging; and (3) resistance to oxidative stress or inflammation.

Strawberries in Cancer Prevention

Strawberries contain a multitude of cancer-fighting compounds, including vitamin C and folate, anthocyanins, quercetin, kaempferol and ellagic acid. Very few foods or their compounds have been shown to reduce risk of some cancers. However, strawberries and/or their constituents have shown promise in both cell culture and epidemiological studies.

The California Strawberry Commission is supporting studies in esophageal and oral cancer in cooperation with the Ohio State University Cancer Chemoprevention Program.

Strawberries and Heart Health

Research is also in progress evaluating the impact of strawberry consumption on blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and inflammatory markers that are drivers of heart disease. Clinical studies are underway at the University of California, Los Angeles, University of California, Davis, the USDA Western Human Nutrition Research Center and the University of Toronto.

California strawberries:

  • Are America's favorite fruit
  • Are available year-round
  • Are enjoyed by the vast majority (94 percent) of Americans
  • Have more vitamin C per serving than an orange
  • Are naturally low in sugar - only eight grams per serving
  • Rank second among the top ten fruits in antioxidant capacity (TAC)
  • May help reduce the risk of heart disease, fight some types of cancer and lower blood pressure

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