Eating strawberries can reduce diabetes risk

Strawberries pack beneficial qualities that may protect us from developing diabetes and heart disease, according to new research from the University of Warwick in the UK.

Researchers there discovered that extracts from strawberries activate a protein in our bodies that can increase antioxidant activities.

Called 'Nrf2,' this protein decreases blood lipids and cholesterol, both of which can lead to cardiovascular problems.

First study of its kind

This study was the first to prove that strawberry extracts actively stimulate proteins that can protect us from disease.

Previous studies found that eating strawberries could counter post-meal blood glucose and low density lipoprotein, called 'bad' cholesterol, decreasing the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

"We've discovered the science behind how strawberries work to increase our in-built defenses to keep cells, organs and blood vessels healthy and which can reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular problems such as heart disease and diabetes," said Paul Thornalley, professor from Warwick Medical School and lead researcher.

Future studies could help identify the best varieties of strawberries and how to process and eat them for the optimal health benefits.

Eat your veggies--and fruits

Fruits and vegetables provide essential vitamins and minerals, fiber and other nutrients important for good health, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

CDC says that compared to those who eat only a small amount of fruits and vegetables, people who eat higher amounts are likely to reduce their risk of diseases like type 2 diabetes.

It also reduces their risk of stroke, some types of cancer, and perhaps heart disease and high blood pressure.

The low fat and calorie content of most fruits and veggies is another benefit. Eating more fruits and veggies may help to reduce calories and manage weight.

Strawberries are in season now

Summer is the season for fresh strawberries. Other fruits in season include blueberries, raspberries, cherries, plums, melons, nectarines, peaches, pears, pineapple, red grapes, papaya, kiwi, mango, and figs.

Some vegetables in season during the summer months include green beans, radishes, zucchini, peppers, corn, cucumbers, tomatoes, spinach, eggplant, okra, squash, lettuce, and black-eyed peas.

The CDC website fruitsandveggiesmatter.gov explains the health benefits of fruits and vegetables. It also provides tips on how to prepare them and how much to eat.

Why buy in season

Buying produce in season helps you get more for your money. Prices come down when a fruit or veggie is plentiful, according to the American Diabetes Association.

In-season produce has the best taste, texture and freshness than other times of the year. Buying in-season is also a great way to support local growers.

Buying out of season may mean that your produce traveled thousands of miles to get to your market. It may be more expensive, less environmentally friendly, and lower quality than in season produce, according to the American Diabetes Association.

Sources: University of Warwick, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Diabetes Association

Photo by John Nyboer

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