Strawberries have an extremely high Vitamin C content, and provide an excellent source of pectin, a soluble fiber that helps to eliminate harmful cholesterol. Together with their high content of antioxidants, this makes strawberries a valuable weapon against heart disease and other blood-related ailments such as anemia.
According to a new study, eating strawberries is also associated with helping people at risk of esophageal cancer protect themselves from the disease.
The research, presented at the American Association for cancer Research (AACR) 102nd meeting 2011 in Orlando, found that:
"We concluded from this study that six months of strawberry treatment is safe and easy to consume. In addition, our preliminary data suggests that strawberries decreased histological grade of precancerous lesions and reduced cancer-related molecular events," said the lead author.
Previously published research by the same scientists found that freeze-dried strawberries significantly inhibited tumor development in the esophagus of rats. Based on these results, the researchers embarked on this clinical trial in China to investigate the effects of freeze-dried strawberries on patients with esophageal precancerous lesions.
"We found that daily consumption of strawberries suppressed various biomarkers involved in esophageal carcinogenesis, including cell proliferation, inflammation and gene transcription," they said.
Each of the 36 study participants ate 60 grams (about two ounces) of freeze-dried strawberries daily for six months. The researchers obtained biopsy specimens before and after the strawberry consumption. The results showed that 29 out of 36 participants experienced a decrease in histological grade of the precancerous lesions during the study.
"We predict that the majority of patients with precancerous lesions in their esophagus will develop esophageal cancer over subsequent decades,"
"Our study is important because it shows that strawberries may slow the progression of precancerous lesion in the esophagus. Strawberries may be an alternative, or may work together with other chemopreventive drugs, for the prevention of esophageal cancer. But, we will need to test this in randomized placebo-controlled trials in the future."
Esophageal cancer is the third most common gastrointestinal cancer and the sixth most frequent cause of cancer death in the world.
Risk factors for developing esophageal cancer include a poor diet lacking fruits and vegetables and deficiencies in dietary vitamins and minerals.
Strawberries are the richest source of ellagic acid, an antioxidant that helps detoxify carcinogens. Researchers have found that it works in several ways - by blocking the activation of carcinogens, by inhibiting the carcinogen itself and by preventing DNA in cells from undergoing mutation.
Strawberries are one of the most pesticide-laden fruits, so they are one fruit you should consider buying organic. Organic strawberries have also been found superior in every way compared to conventional produce, with significantly higher antioxidant levels, a longer shelf life and a sweeter flavor.
Ohio State University Medical Center (2011, April 6). Strawberries may slow precancerous growth in the esophagus, study suggests. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 7, 2011.