Heart Health Benefits Get Sweeter with Strawberries
It’s quite fitting that strawberries are shaped like small red hearts, given the luscious fruit’s potential heart health benefits. For the past 20 years, nutrition researchers have found that strawberries may reduce the risk of a heart attack and stroke in women (1,2) reduce total and LDL (the bad) cholesterol (3,4,5) and improve blood pressure. (6) Now, a new study builds on that research by demonstrating that the equivalent of one cup of berries reduced total and LDL cholesterol in overweight and obese men and women. (7) The study was led by Pennsylvania State University and was supported the California Strawberry Commission.
What does this new research mean for your shopper engagement? Consider these ideas:
Promote what shoppers can eat more of when following heart healthy eating plans, like strawberries. The American Heart Association, which recently released a new heart health checklist, recommends both the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) and Mediterranean Eating Pattern for Americans (MEPA) diets for people with or at risk for heart disease. Both diets encourage people to consume plenty of fruit and the MEPA plan specifically recommends at least two servings of berries per week. Strawberries contain many beneficial nutrients and plant-based substances that may contribute to its heart health benefits. In addition to being an excellent source of vitamin C, fiber, folate and potassium, the scrumptious red berry also contains compounds found only in plants called phytosterols and polyphenols. They are also naturally low in sugar.
Promote strawberries as the “always in stock produce item” that is an ideal fit for heart-healthy meals and snacks. California strawberries are the year-round anchor of the fresh berry category and will be widely available to shoppers well into the fall months. It's easy for your customers to make a serving of strawberries (about 8 berries) part of their weekly heart health routine. Highlight all the eating occasions where strawberries are perfect -- enjoyed as a snack, tossed into a salad, or blended with yogurt for a refreshing smoothy.
Start planning now for key health months. As you’re planning for Diabetes Awareness Month and American Heart Month, include strawberries in your in-store promotions, social media posts, and e-commerce shoppable recipes and landing pages. You can find serving ideas and recipes here to use in your promotions and programs.
1 Cassidy A, Mukama, KJ, Liu L, Franz M, Eliassen AH, Rimm EB. High anthocyanin intake is associated with a reduced risk of myocardial infarction in young and middle- aged women. Circulation. 2013;127(2). doi: 10.1161/circulationaha.112.122408
2 Gao Q, Dong JY, Cui R, Muraki I, Yamagishi K, Sawada N, Iso H, Tsugane S; Japan Public Health Center-based Prospective Study Group. Consumption of flavonoid-rich fruits, flavonoids from fruits and stroke risk: a prospective cohort study. Br J Nutr. 2021 Jan 29:1-8. doi: 10.1017/S0007114521000404. Epub ahead of print.
3 Basu A, Betts NM, Nguyen A, Newman ED, Fu D, Lyons TJ. Freeze-dried strawberries lower serum cholesterol and lipid peroxidation in adults with abdominal adiposity and elevated serum lipids. J Nutr. 2014;144:830-837. doi: 10.3945/jn.113.188169
4 Gao Q, Qin LQ, Arafa A, Eshak ES, Dong JY. Effects of strawberry intervention on cardiovascular risk factors: a meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. Br J Nutr. 2020 Aug 14;124(3):241-246. doi: 10.1017/S000711452000121X.
5 Hadi A, Askarpour M, Miraghajani M, Symonds ME, Sheikhi A, Ghaedi E. Effects of strawberry supplementation on cardiovascular risk factors: a comprehensive systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Food Funct. 2019 Nov 1;10(11):6987-6998. doi: 10.1039/c9fo01684h.
6 Feresin RG, Figueroa A, Johnson SA, et al. Daily consumption of strawberries improves plasma nitric oxide and adiponectin levels in pre- and stage 1-hypertensive postmenopausal women. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2015;115(9):A-42. doi: 10.1016/j.jand.2015.06.142
7 Chesney K. Richter, Ann C. Skulas-Ray, Trent L. Gaugler, Stacey Meily, Kristina S. Petersen & Penny M. Kris-Etherton (2022) Randomized Double-Blind Controlled Trial of Freeze-Dried Strawberry Powder Supplementation in Adults with Overweight or Obesity and Elevated Cholesterol, Journal of the American Nutrition Association, DOI: 10.1080/07315724.2021.2014369