Since chronic, excessive inflammation and chronic, excessive oxidative stress (lack of antioxidant nutrients and unsupported oxygen metabolism) are often primary factors in the development of cancer, strawberries would definitely be expected to have cancer risk-lowering properties given their outstanding antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrient content. Anti-cancer benefits from strawberries are best documented in the case of breast, cervical, colon, and esophageal cancer. Most of the tumor-inhibiting studies on animals have focused on the phytonutrient content of strawberries. Among the strawberry phytonutrients, ellagic acid and ellagitannins in strawberry have emerged as anti-cancer substances of special interest. While the anti-cancer (chemopreventive) properties of these phytonutrients have yet to be fully understood, their ability to lower risk for some forms of cancer may be related to their ability to boost the activity of antioxidant enzymes like catalase or superoxide dismustase, their ability to lessen the activity of pro-inflammatory enzymes like cyclo-oxygenase 2 (COX-2), or their ability to lessen expression of the enzyme inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS). Whatever the mechanism or combination of mechanisms, strawberries are likely to bring anti-cancer health benefits to your diet.
Other Health Benefits
A growing area of health research on strawberries is the area of aging and aging-related events. Several preliminary studies on intake of strawberries on aged animals has shown enhanced cognitive function (in the form of better object recognition) following ingestion of a diet with 2% of the calories provided by strawberry extracts. Enhanced motor function (in the form of better balance and coordination of movements) has also been shown in these strawberry extract studies. Some of the strawberry impact in these aging studies has been attributed to the ability of strawberry phytonutrients to lower the presence of pro-inflammatory messaging molecules like nuclear factor kappa-B.
Improvement of inflammatory bowel problemsâ€”including ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease – has also been demonstrated in preliminary studies on animals with daily strawberry extract or strawberry powder intake. Interestingly, even though strawberries contain relatively small amounts of salicylic acid (an anti-inflammatory compound very similar to the acetylsalicylic acid of aspirin), some researchers have suggested that this naturally-occurring anti-inflammatory substance in strawberries might be partly responsible for decreased inflammation in the digestive tract of individuals diagnosed with inflammatory bowel diseases like ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease.
Inflammation-related arthritis (including rheumatoid arthritis), and inflammation-related diseases of the eye (including macular degeneration) are two additional areas in which strawberries may turn out to provide important health benefits. Even though health research in these areas is in a preliminary stage, the unique combination of anti-inflammatory phytonutrients in strawberries is likely to explain some of the key potential benefits in these areas.