Strawberries: A Treat That Could Help Diabetics Stay Healthy

strawberries diabetesIt always seems to be that foods, which are good for you, are not your favorites, but who could say no to a bowl of luscious ripe strawberries? Now this scrumptious superfood  has been identified as a health aid for diabetics, lessening the risk of developing the serious complications this disease can bring.

You should eat 37 of them a day, says the report published by researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, but how hard could that be?

America’s favorite berry fruit was recently given superfood status for its cholesterol-reducing qualities, high vitamin, flavonoid and fiber content and high levels of anti-inflammatories, antioxidants, and anti-cancer compounds. They contain high levels of vitamins B, C (ounce for ounce more than oranges) and K minerals, including potassium, manganese, magnesium, copper, foliate and Omega 3.  Thanks to the global market and heated greenhouses, they are available all year round, they are one of the most nutritionally rewarding of all fruits – and they taste wonderful.

Although hundreds of ice creams, desserts, jelly, candy, and shakes are made with strawberry flavor – often synthetic – it is the fresh fruit which should be eaten for its therapeutic effects.  Fresh strawberries can also be frozen if you have the opportunity to buy them in bulk, and this will not decrease their good effects.

The research team from Salk’s Cellular Neurobiology Laboratory, San Diego, California, experimented with mice with Type 1, or insulin dependent, diabetes.  This disease, which starts with an autoimmune response, which damages the beta cells in the pancreas, where insulin is produced, can lead to serious complications such as heart disease, strokes, blindness, renal failure, and neuropathy leading to deformity and even amputation of the extremities.  Type 2 diabetes can also lead to these serious health issues, though Type 2 diabetics may not need to be given insulin.

The mice were given fisetin, a chemical found in high quantities in strawberries.  Fisetin is classified as a flavonol, a compound found in fruits and vegetables, which give them their rich coloring.  “Eat a rainbow every day” was one health slogan a few years ago, when the health benefits of flavonoids were being discovered.  Flavonoids have been found to reduce the risks of many serious diseases, including cancers, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s.

The mice given fisetin afterwards showed reduced symptoms, including a reduction in the protein in their urine – a symptom of kidney failure – and reduction of enlarged kidneys.  As a side benefit, the mice given this chemical also showed reduced stress.  The diabetic mice tended to manifest anxiety by staying still instead of exploring their cages.  When given fisetin they moved around their cages in a normal manner.

Scientists say they have identified the way fisetin benefits diabetics: diabetics may have higher levels of sugars affixed to proteins, known as advanced glycation end-products.  Giving the mice fisetin lowered these levels.

Research is now needed to determine whether human beings would react as favorably to fisetin as the laboratory mice; in the meantime diabetics’ best way of getting this beneficial chemical is by eating large amounts of delicious fresh strawberries – some hardship!

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