ANCONA, Italy, Feb. 26 (UPI) -- A study of volunteers who ate about a pound of strawberries a day had lowered levels of bad cholesterol and triglycerides, Italian and Spanish researchers say.
Researchers at the Universita Politecnica delle Marche colleagues at the Universities of Salamanca, Granada and Seville in Spain, said previous research showed strawberries have high levels of antioxidants but the fruit also helps to reduce cholesterol.
The team set up an experiment in which they added 500 grams of strawberries to the daily diets of 23 healthy volunteers for more than a month. They took blood samples before and after this period to compare data.
The study, published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, showed the total amount of cholesterol dropped 8.78 percent; the levels of low-density "bad," lipoproteins dropped 13.72 percent and the quantity of triglycerides fell 20.8 percent. The high-density lipoprotein, or "good" cholesterol, remained unchanged, the scientists said.
The study also found those eating the strawberries also improved other parameters such as the general plasma lipid profile, anti-oxidant biomarkers such as vitamin C or oxygen radical absorbance capacity, antihemolytic defenses and platelet function. All of these parameters returned to their initial values 15 days after abandoning the "treatment" with strawberries, the researchers said.
"This is the first time a study has been published that supports the protective role of the bioactive compounds in strawberries in tackling recognized markers and risk factors for cardiovascular diseases," study leader Maurizio Battino, a researcher at the Universita Politecnica delle Marche, said in a statement.
Battino said there is still no direct evidence about which compounds in the fruit accomplish their beneficial effects, "but all the signs and epidemiological studies point towards anthocyanins, the vegetable pigments that afford them their red color."