A study conducted by the Salk Institute for Biological Studies Cellular Neurobiology Laboratory (CNL) has shown that eating 37 strawberries a day can lessen the risk of developing complications from diabetes and other chronic illnesses. The study was co-authored by David Schubert, Ph.D., professor and head of the CNL and Pam Maher, Ph.D., a senior staff scientist; the findings were published in the June 2011 issue of the journal PLoS ONE.

Strawberries contain fisetin, which is classified as a flavonol — compounds that belong to the flavonoid group in polyphenols. They give color to plants and fruits; the greener a plant is, the more flavonols it contains. Foods such as onions, grapes, spinach, kale, apples, and tomatoes are high in flavonols. These substances have been shown in numerous studies to reduce the risk of a variety of illnesses, from cancer to cardiovascular disease to Alzheimer`s.

There`s a reason fruits and vegetables are commonly recommended as part of a healthy diet — they contain a number of such compounds that help us in unseen ways.

The study conducted by the CNL used Akita mice with type 1 diabetes, a form of diabetes that usually develops in childhood and requires regular insulin supplementation. In the long term, the disease is associated with a variety of complications including loss of vision, kidney failure, neuropathy, and heart disease. The Akita mice used in the study showed symptoms of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. They were given dietary supplements of fisetin, the flavonol found in strawberries; those who received the fisetin experienced reduced kidney enlargement. Where they had high urine protein levels before — a symptom of diseased kidneys — their urine protein levels dropped once placed on the fisetin-enriched diet. It also reduced symptoms of anxiety in the mice: “A mouse not suffering with anxiety tends to move around when put in a large area, but a mouse suffering from anxiety does not move around. The diabetic mice showed anxiety behavior, but when fed fisetin their movement returned to normal.”

Researchers also identified the molecular mechanism that may be responsible for fisetin`s benefits. The mice treated with fisetin experienced decreased levels of “sugars affixed to proteins known as advanced glycation end-products (AGEs)” in the blood and brain. These AGEs have been implicated in most diabetic complications. The study also showed that fisetin can promote glyoxalase 1 activity; it is the first compound known to do so.

Future testing will determine whether the effects of fisetin are as pronounced in humans as they are in mice, and whether a fisetin supplement will become available that packs the same punch as eating 37 strawberries a day.

Source: DiabeticLive.com Press Release