A recent study by the University of California, Davis, and the Illinois Institute of Technology found that flavonoids in strawberries may reduce the risk of heart disease.

The important chemical compounds may improve function of the endothelium—-the cells that line the inside of blood vessels through the entire circulatory system.

In the study, researchers found that strawberries promote a healthy endothelium, which supports a healthy cardiovascular system, according to a news release. The loss of proper endothelial function, or endothelial dysfunction, is common in people with diabetes mellitus, hypertension and other chronic conditions that can increase the risk of heart disease.

For the study, a water-soluble extract of strawberry powder was applied to endothelial tissue in a laboratory model. The extract caused aortic vessels to relax. The results suggest a beneficial role for strawberry in the management of blood pressure and heart disease risk.

“Strawberries contain a variety of bioactive compounds that can promote longevity and quality of life," says Britt Burton-Freeman, director of nutrition at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago and an assistant research nutritionist at UC Davis. "For humans, these compounds can act as antioxidants, serve as anti-inflammatory agents, improve cell to cell communication, cause cancer cells to die, detoxify carcinogens—a number of benefits consistent with health and disease risk reduction.”

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