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Eating Strawberries Every Day May Support Vascular Health, New Study Suggests

person holding a heart-shaped strawberry

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Key Takeaways

  • Strawberries are a natural source of important nutrients that support heart health.
  • According to a new study, eating strawberries every day for four weeks may help improve endothelial functioning and systolic blood pressure.
  • If you are trying to support your heart health, including strawberries in your daily diet is a good step.

Including strawberries into your daily diet may improve blood vessel function and systolic blood pressure, according to a new study. Specifically, the fruit shows benefits for those who are overweight or obese and who have moderately high cholesterol (LDL cholesterol, or “bad” cholesterol).

Strawberries are packed with beneficial antioxidants and nutrients including potassium, folate, fiber, and polyphenols—compounds found in plants that offer a slew of health benefits. In fact, research published prior to this new study shows eating at least 1.5 cups of strawberries per week is associated with a 34% reduced risk of a heart attack.

“It is no surprise to me that the rich polyphenol content of strawberries allows for a positive effect on endothelial functioning,” Michelle Routhenstein, RDN, CDE, CDN, a New York-based cardiology registered dietitian and owner of Entirely Nourished, tells Verywell. "This allows for relaxation of the arteries, improving blood flow and reducing systolic blood pressure."

What Is Endothelial Function?

The heart is a complex organ and has a primary role of delivering blood, and in turn, oxygen, to the rest of the body. 

The endothelium, or the thin membrane that lines the walls of the heart and the blood vessels, needs to remain healthy in order for the heart to do its job effectively: relax and contract to pump blood.

If the endothelium is not functioning properly, large blood vessels in the heart may not dilate—or open—the way they should, resulting in blood flow challenges. 

Endothelial dysfunction is common in those with cardiovascular disease (CVD). And finding ways to support a healthy endothelial lining is key to care for heart health. 

Strawberries Can Support Healthy Endothelial Function

Each year, CVD claims more lives than all forms of cancer and chronic lower respiratory disease combined. And while there are many risk factors associated with developing this condition, diet can play a large role. 

Years of research has already shown that eating strawberries is linked to heart-healthy outcomes, like reduced LDL cholesterol, improved inflammation, and lower risk of death from CVD.

The goal of this new study was to determine whether eating strawberries can play a role in vascular endothelial function as well. 

In this randomized, controlled, double-blinded trial, overweight and obese adults with moderately-high cholesterol were randomly assigned to either drink a beverage containing 25 grams of freeze-dried strawberry powder or a similar drink without the strawberry powder for four weeks, followed by a four-week washout period. After completing their first assigned beverage, participants switched to the other one for an additional four weeks.

Twenty-five grams of freeze-dried strawberry powder is equivalent to 250 grams of fresh strawberries, or 1.75 cups. The process of freeze-drying is the best method to preserve nutrients when compared with other dehydrating methods, according to an article published in the journal Foods, which explains why this form is so often used in studies.

Results showed that consuming the strawberry powder every day for four weeks resulted in an improved flow-mediated dilation (an indication of healthy endothelial function) one hour after the strawberry drink was drunk. Plus, systolic blood pressure decreased among participants two hours after drinking the strawberry beverage, and was still noted four weeks later.

In spite of what previous research shows, a significant difference in LDL cholesterol, diastolic blood pressure, and inflammation was not seen among the strawberry drink consumers vs. the non-strawberry drinkers. 

“This study confirms that regular strawberry intake is great for heart health by helping to improve blood pressure and blood vessel function,” Jamie Johnson, RDN, a South Carolina-based registered dietitian, tells Verywell. 

Diet Tips To Support Vascular Health

Beyond enjoying a daily dose of strawberries, Johnson explains that “one of the best ways to improve vascular health is to include more plants in your diet, especially those that are rich in colors.” 

So, having a side salad with your dinner or enjoying a piece of fruit at snack time are easy ways to include more nutrient-dense produce. 

”The current dietary recommendation is to get a minimum of five servings of fruits and vegetables a day, with two of those being fruit," Johnson says. "By making one of those servings a cup of strawberries, it is a sure way to get plenty of heart-healthy anthocyanins.”

Johnson also emphasizes the importance of consuming between 25 and 35 grams of fiber a day, as well as aiming for at least 150 minutes of exercise each week.

What This Means For You

If you are considered to be overweight or experiencing high cholesterol, including strawberries into your daily diet may help keep your heart health in check.

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