Strawberries boost red blood cells

By Shayna Brouker • Published: September 29th, 2011
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Just in time for National Fruits and Veggies – More Matters Month, scientists have found another reason, as if you needed one, to snack on summer’s favorite superfood: the strawberry. Summer may be just about over, but luckily the sweet little berry is still in season in most parts of the country.

Scientists in Spain and Italy found that, indeed, eating more fruits matters. The researchers fed a lucky group of volunteers a little over a pound of strawberries every day for two weeks. That’s about 38 medium-sized berries. They took regular blood samples and found that the participants’ red blood cells’ response to oxidative stress had improved. The strawberries actually boosted the antioxidant ability of blood.

Though the sample size was quite small, past studies have also found that strawberries can pack a punch again oxidative stress.

This chemical imbalance is associated with diseases like cancer, atherosclerosis and diabetes. Our bodies absorb harmful molecules called free radicals from pollutants in the environment, even during normal bodily processes like digestion. But strawberries are packed with powerful polyphenols, or antioxidants, that help fight oxidation and make red blood cells resistant to oxidative stress. They may even add a few years to your life; antioxidants slow the aging process.

If snacking on a pound of strawberries a day sounds more like an eating contest at the county fair to you, take heart: The idea is to sneak as many fruits and veggies into your diet as possible. Aim for five servings, or a half cup, daily and “eat the rainbow.” Brightly colored foods are likely to harbor good-for-you vitamins and antioxidants. Other foods with ample antioxidants include blueberries, plums, sweet potatoes, broccoli, kale, pecans, and yes, even chocolate. Chocolate-covered strawberries, anyone?