Strawberries May Benefit People with Diabetes

By MAYS Latest Reply 2013-02-24 00:18:03 -0600
Started 2013-02-19 14:51:18 -0600

Count strawberries among the best foods for diabetics. Eating 37 of the red berries a day may help people with diabetes avoid major complications of the metabolic disease such as vision, nerve and kidney problems, according to a new study from the Salk Institute for Biological Studies.

The beneficial compound is fisetin, a rare, naturally occurring flavonoid (or plant pigment compound that acts as an antioxidant) found in strawberries and other fruits, like tomatoes and apples. It reduced kidney and memory problems in diabetic Akita mice, researchers reported in the June 27 issue of PLoS ONE, a peer-reviewed scientific journal. The rodents had high blood-sugar levels – typical of type 1 diabetes – and the same diabetic complications as humans.

While fisetin didn’t reduce blood sugar levels, it lowered hypertrophy, or enlargement, of the kidneys, according to the study. High urine protein levels, a typical sign of kidney disease, also fell. Diabetic retinopathy (damage to the retina caused by diabetes) and neuropathy (pain or loss of feeling in the toes, feet and hands, among other symptoms) also diminished.

Why precisely 37 strawberries a day? Researchers based the amount on the assumption that the fruit’s fisetin is metabolized by humans as easily as the lab version fed to mice.

“This is an exciting discovery,” says Donna Weihofen, R.D., M.S., senior nutritionist at the University of Wisconsin Hospital & Clinics. “Those 37 strawberries a day won’t change how we treat [people with diabetes], but the study may point us in the direction of growing healthier strawberries with this flavonoid. Or in concentrated form, it might lead to a pill that helps diabetes complications.”

There are hundreds of flavonoids, some found in red wine and blueberries, Weihofen adds. “We’re starting to identify many of them, learn what they are and what they do.”

Salk Institute researchers reported that fisetin also lowered mice’s anxiety levels and reversed their sedentary ways.

Anxious mice typically don’t move around, says Pam Maher, Ph.D., a senior staff scientist in Salk’s Cellular Neurobiology Laboratory and one of the study’s authors. Fisetin helped restore their activity level, she says.

Because of the difficulty in getting natural products to clinical trials – patents are hard to protect – it may be some time before fisetin is tested on people with diabetes, researchers say.

In the meantime, consider strawberries a delicious, healthy snack. But it’s best to buy organic berries, according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG). The non-profit consumer organization puts the fruit third on its “Dirty Dozen” list – behind apples and celery – because of high pesticide contamination levels.

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12 replies

annesmith 2013-02-24 00:18:03 -0600 Report

I happened to eat strawberries this last week, and I did feel better. I thought it was my imagination. I had them with my supper, no sugar. The first night I thought " What in the heck? It seems to me these things are helping me." Thank you for the very interesting information. I am happy as a clam they help reduce eye damage, etc. ANNE

Nana_anna 2013-02-21 23:26:23 -0600 Report

That's good to know. Last weekend I went to the fruit stand and picked up a batch of strawberries. Came home cleaned and cut them The next day, I hate to say it, but I ate the whole thing for breakfast! I loved it!

alanbossman 2013-02-20 15:16:28 -0600 Report

Thanks Mays I love my strawberries with a little cool whip on top. Good to know about how many to eat a day, have some with breakfast, then with lunch,and dinner. Yummy

Tony5657 2013-02-20 06:28:52 -0600 Report

Just be sure and wash them thoroughly, even the so called "organic" ones. Commercial growers use many pesticides, herbicides, & fertilizers on them. Also they grow close to the ground and may have dirt on them AND since birds love them, ya gotta wash off all the birdie poop!! :o) (My grandfather used to grow them commercially.)

Tony5657 in New Braunfels, TX

locarb 2013-02-19 18:44:16 -0600 Report

I wish I could. I have tried all kinds of fruit and each time I end up with elevated BG. It just ends up not being worth it to me. At this point, my diet has changed so much that I don't really think much about food (or what I used to eat) and feel better maintaining "normal" blood sugars.

jayabee52 2013-02-19 15:26:37 -0600 Report

I have made strawberries a part of my meal plan ever since I started it in 2011.
I am gratified to know that they are not only low in carbs but are healthier than I realized! Thanks for posting this!

Caroltoo 2013-02-19 14:59:15 -0600 Report

Interesting. I've read recommendations that we eat them as a good source of Vitamin C, now we know there is another reason also. I raise strawberries and I buy them. The ones I buy are probably 5X larger than the ones I grow…so how much is 37 strawberries really? I think my "take-home" on this is that they are good for me and more is better than less.