Strawberries may boost heart health in patients with metabolic syndrome

September 02, 2010

A daily supplement of a freeze-dried strawberry powder improved heart health markers in people with metabolic syndrome, says new data from Oklahoma State University. LDL-cholesterol levels were reduced by 11% following eight weeks of strawberry powder supplementation, according to findings of a study with 27 obese people. Furthermore, the strawberry group also experienced a decrease in levels of a compound called vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (sVCAM-1) of 18 percent. Adhesion molecules are considered a “surrogate marker of atherosclerosis in subjects with metabolic syndrome”, and a reduction is considered beneficial. “To our knowledge, this is the first randomized controlled trial investigating the effects of strawberry supplementation on lipid profiles in subjects with metabolic syndrome,” wrote the researchers.

Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of conditions characterised by truncal obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, blood sugar and insulin utilization issues, high triglycerides, and inflammation. The syndrome has been linked to an increased risk of type-2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and even cancer.

     The study follows an earlier study by the same researchers in overweight women. Results published last year in the Nutrition Journal indicating that freeze-dried strawberry powder may reduce total cholesterol by 5% and LDL cholesterol by 6%.

The earlier study was said to be the first to show such effects in women with metabolic syndrome, with the benefits linked to the polyphenol content of the berries. “Our short-term feeding trial shows the hypocholesterolemic effects of strawberries in un-medicated subjects with metabolic syndrome on usual diet and lifestyle,” wrote the researchers.

“These findings warrant further investigation in larger dose-response controlled studies,” they added. The study is published in the journal Nutrition Research; Volume 30, Pages 462-469.