Healthy Eating

New Science Shows Strawberries Boost Brain & Heart Health

Plus, delicious ways to add them to your diet.

By: Lauren Panoff MPH, RD

Who doesn’t love strawberries? Whether you grab a box from the store or pick them off the plant yourself, these juicy little berries are always bursting with flavor. They make a great snack or side, a delicious dessert, a sweet smoothie, and can be added to just about any baked goods recipe. 

But strawberries do more than tickle our tastebuds. They offer countless benefits for our health and wellness. In addition to supporting immune and digestive health, new science highlights how strawberries also benefit our brain and heart. 

Let’s take a closer look at what the study says and how you can incorporate more strawberries into your lifestyle. 

RELATED: 5 Anti-Inflammatory Foods You Should Be Eating Regularly 

New Research Shows Strawberries Offer Brain & Heart Health Benefits 

Plate of strawberries

A new study on the health benefits of strawberries was presented in July of 2023 at the American Society for Nutrition conference. This randomized, crossover, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial involved 35 healthy older men and women. The goal was to examine how eating strawberries affected the cognitive function and heart health of healthy aging adults. 

The participants were given 26 grams of freeze-dried strawberry powder and a control powder to consume every day for 8 weeks. Each was followed by a 4-week washout period. 

Cognitive health measurements included episodic memory and speed of processing. Measurements of cardiometabolic health were also taken, including blood pressure, waist circumference, and biomarkers like triglycerides and total antioxidant capacity. 

At the end of the study, the authors observed that the group who consumed daily strawberry powder experienced moderately improved brain processing speed, lower systolic blood pressure, and increased total antioxidant capacity. In other words, eating strawberries positively benefited brain and heart health. 

It’s important to note that the study was funded by the California Strawberry Commission. However, it’s not a stretch to say that eating strawberries — and any berries, for that matter — provides you with a variety of nutrients and compounds that are good for your health. Eating them regularly is a great way to ensure that your body has an abundant supply. 

Strawberries are high in vitamin C and other antioxidants, like anthocyanins, ellagitannins, and ellagic acid. These help protect your cellular health from oxidative damage that promotes disease. They are also rich in other important micronutrients like fiber, folate, potassium, and manganese. 

Furthermore, other studies agree that consuming strawberries can help improve some aspects of cognition among older adults and offer protection against a number of chronic diseases. Some researchers believe this is because of their antioxidant content, anti-inflammatory activity, and how they change the way neurons in the brain communicate.

Other Health Benefits of Strawberries

There’s no question that strawberries are a healthy food with lots to offer. They fall into the category of whole and minimally processed plant foods, which are among the healthiest foods on the planet. 

Some of the other health benefits of strawberries include: 

  • Blood sugar regulation: Strawberries are high in fiber, which helps to slow digestion and prevent dramatic changes in blood sugar after eating. Research has found that they can help also improve insulin resistance
  • Weight management: Eating strawberries may help support healthy weight loss and maintenance. Their fiber and water content can help promote satiety and prevent overeating. 
  • Gut health support: Strawberries may benefit the gut microbiome in a way that promotes healthy weight maintenance and immune function. A healthy gut microbiome is critical for overall health

Delicious Ways to Add Strawberries to Your Diet 

Strawberry smoothie, an example of how to add strawberries to your diet

If you don’t already eat strawberries, you may be wondering how to incorporate them into your diet. Fortunately, these nutrient-packed berries are available in many places year-round, either as fresh or frozen produce. 

Here are some ideas for making strawberries a more regular part of your diet: 

  • Add them diced to oatmeal, yogurt, or smoothie bowls
  • Toss them into berry smoothies
  • Mix sliced strawberries into a green salad with vinaigrette dressing
  • Gently stir them into pancake or muffin batter
  • Layer them onto fruit pizza or into granola parfaits
  • Add them to homemade chia pudding
  • Mash them and cook them into a strawberry sauce for waffles
  • Make strawberry and oat breakfast cookies
  • Skewer them on fruit kabobs with pineapple, grapes, and melon
  • Enjoy them on their own!

The Takeaway

Strawberries are a super healthy, nutrient-packed fruit with tons to offer for your health. They have been studied for how they support immune, digestive, cognitive, and heart health. This is likely attributed to their antioxidant content as well as their anti-inflammatory activity. Add more strawberries to your diet in any meal, snack, or dessert, and start reaping the benefits.