The Spring season is near at hand. Spring adds a newness of life and beauty to the entire universe. The excitement begins watching hummingbirds appear outside my window, the fight to stray rabbits away from eating the blooming roses, the planting of herbs and vegetable gardens. The overall beauty of watching the rebirth of nature is amazement within itself. However, my most anticipated spring/summer gifts are seasonal fruits and vegetables. Special mention must go to the delectable colorful, tasteful, delightful strawberry, a very special berry to remember.
Strawberries are members of the rose family and are at their peak of goodness in early summer/late spring. The berry has been around for thousands of years, growing wild in North America. They are native to North America and well known by the Indigenous peoples. In 1600 the first colonists in America shipped them back to Europe, where the cultivation process began during the Renaissance period. Today the strawberry is the most popular fruit in the world.
Research shows strawberries display a phenomenally positive impact on Cardiometabolic syndrome. A cardiometabolic syndrome is a term referring to a group of risk factors contributing to cardiovascular disease. These risk factors start with abdominal obesity, which leads to insulin resistance. Insulin resistance ultimately progresses to type 2 diabetes, followed by high triglyceride, low HDL, and high blood pressure, all preceding cardiovascular disease. Finally, Cardiometabolic syndrome is another name for insulin resistance syndrome because it is the effects of insulin resistance that are initially responsible or the root cause for all of the indicated risk factors. However, evidence-based research shows that the consumption of strawberries positively improves insulin resistance, lowers LDL cholesterol, and increases HDL cholesterol. According to one study, participants consuming strawberries at a dose of two and a half servings of (strawberry powder) a day significantly improve cardiometabolic risk by improving insulin resistance and atherogenic lipids profiles. Please note 1 tablespoon of strawberry powder is equivalent to 1 serving or (5) whole fresh strawberries.
Recent evidence-based research is also showing the positive effect strawberries have on memory. According to the CDC, these findings are encouraging in that 16 million Americans live with cognitive impairment in the United States. Approximately 5.1 of these Americans have a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, which incidentally is the most common form of cognitive impairment. Research findings report cognitive impairment is primarily due to age-related alteration in the brain due to increased oxidative stress and inflammation. A recent clinical trial demonstrates the effectiveness of strawberries’ bioactive compounds (phytonutrients) composition on cognitive impairment. Study findings indicate strawberries can reduce oxidative stress and inflammation within the brain, thus, improving overall cognition.
As we age, striving to achieve and maintain our mental and physical health is becoming more imperative, as it also has a significant public health concern in America. You are what you eat; therefore, consuming nutrient-dense foods rich in antioxidants and phytochemicals is vital. During this season of rebirth, the variety of fruits and vegetables will be in abundance; farmers’ markets will overflow once again. So, join me as I eat the rainbow of colorful fruits and vegetables. However, don’t forget that very special berry; it will help you remember.