In addition to strawberries being nutrient-rich, those who reported eating the most strawberries experienced lower blood levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a biomarker for inflammation in the blood vessels, according to a new study published in the August issue of the Journal of the American College of Nutrition.
In the Women’s Health Study, Howard Sesso, ScD, and colleagues at the Harvard School of Public Health examined strawberry intake for both its prospective association with cardiovascular (CVD) risk in 38,176 women and its cross-sectional association with lipids and CRP in a subset of 26,966 women.
The researchers assessed strawberry intake from a baseline semi-quantitative food frequency questionnaire, along with other self-reported lifestyle, clinical and dietary factors. Participants returned baseline bloods which were assayed for lipids and CRP. They computed the relative risks (RRs) for total CVD in 1,004 cases, including confirmed myocardial infarction, stroke, revascularization, and cardiovascular death, which occurred during 10.9 years of follow-up.
At baseline, 25.6 percent, 41.9 percent, 24.8 percent and 7.7 percent of women reported corresponding strawberry intake of none, one–three servings/month, one serving/week, and more than two servings/week. For total CVD, the multivariate RRs for increasing categories of strawberry intake were 1.00, 1.01, 0.95 and 1.27, respectively.
"Higher intakes of fruits and vegetables have consistently been associated with a reduced risk of CVD,” Sesso said. “Strawberries are a rich source of several key nutrients and phytonutrients that may play a role in protecting heart health. This is the first study to show that strawberries may help reduce the likelihood of having elevated CRP levels in the blood. While more research is needed, this study helps provide more evidence that eating fruits and vegetables will help reduce risk for cardiovascular disease."