PhotoStrawberries have already been called a nutritional “whole-in-one,” but a new study finds that people with insulin resistance (IR) may especially benefit from the fruit.

Published in the February issue of Molecular Nutrition and Food Nutrition, the study found that the anthocyanin-rich nature of strawberries may help improve insulin sensitivity. This finding is important, as research has shown that prolonged IR can lead to Type 2 diabetes.

To test the effects of anthocyanins, researchers gave obese adults with insulin resistance a meal high in fat and carbohydrates paired with a beverage that contained freeze-dried whole strawberry powder (equivalent to 3 cups of strawberries). Subjects who drank the most concentrated versions of the strawberry drink produced less insulin.

Alter insulin signaling

Thanks to the strawberry shake, it appeared the body didn’t need much insulin to metabolize their meal. Researchers note that while the exact reason strawberries have this effect remains unclear, it may be that anthocyanins alter insulin signaling at a cellular level.

"These results add to the collective evidence that consuming strawberries may help improve insulin action," says study author Britt Burton-Freeman, Ph.D., MS, Director, Center for Nutrition Research, Institute for Food Safety and Health (IFSH) at Illinois Institute of Technology

Strawberry benefits

The American Diabetes Association lists strawberries as one of the top ten superfoods to include in a diabetes meal plan. Low in sugar -- but loaded with antioxidants, fiber, and vitamins -- strawberries are a highly beneficial berry for both diabetics and non-diabetics.

Experts say eating just eight medium-sized strawberries a day may improve heart health, help manage diabetes, support brain health, and reduce the risk of some cancers.

Other benefits of the strawberry include:

  • More vitamin C per serving than an orange and 140% of the daily value
  • A good source of fiber - 3 grams
  • Folate and potassium, along with a variety of health-promoting phytochemicals
  • Just 7 grams of sugar

So toss a few in a salad, pair them with protein, or even freeze them to use as ice cubes. Because according to the California Strawberry Commission, we’re not eating as many strawberries as we should.

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