Strawberry-Champagne good for health, says science

22 June 2007

Chemistry offers a healthy excuse for those wanting to have summertime or Wimbledon Weeks strawberry-and-Champagne parties.

Jim Hanson, author of a new book published by the Royal Society of Chemistry called Chemistry in the Garden, said this week: 

"Recent studies since 2000 have changed our view of the garden strawberry from a symbol of genteel luxury to that of a fruit with a potentially valuable chemoprotective role against some human diseases."

A recent paper has also suggested, said Dr Hanson, that Champagne may also possess a neuroprotective effect against oxidative neuronal injury.

During the Middle Ages the small fruit of the wild strawberry had both a culinary and a medicinal role. One of the herbalists, Culpepper, is reported as describing the plant as being 'singularly good for the healing of many ills.'

The taste of the modern hybrid strawberry is based upon a combination of sugars which include fructose, glucose and sucrose, organic acids such as citric acid and phenolic acids and tannins together with aroma compounds. 

Strawberries are a rich source of polyphenolic compounds with antioxidant activity which can give protection against cardiovascular diseases. They are a good source of vitamin C which also has an antioxidant activity. 

Recent studies have also linked the high level of antioxidant phenolic compounds in strawberries and their consumption with a decreased risk of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease. 

"When strawberries were compared with bananas and oranges they had the highest protective effect against oxidative neuronal cell membrane breakdown."

Recent research suggests that consumption of strawberries might increase the amount of medicinal drugs reaching target organs in the body.

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