Whole berries are known for their extended health benefits thanks to their high fibre and polyphenol profile, as well as their low energy (calorie) contributions to daily diets.

Now, new research from the University of Nevada published in Nutrients, reveals that adding strawberries to diets could improve cardiometabolic risk factors in adults who are obese or have elevated low-density lipoprotein (less favourable) cholesterol.

In the randomised, controlled crossover trial, 33 adults (mean age 53 years) received a daily controlled amount of strawberry powder in four-week phases – equivalent to one serving, or two-and-a-half servings of strawberries each. Participants were asked to follow their usual lifestyles but refrain from eating any other berries.

It found that the equivalent to two-and-a-half daily servings of strawberries significantly improved cardiometabolic risks in this ‘at risk’ population group when compared to the control group – mainly by improving insulin resistance and lipid particle profiles.

Dr Emma Derbyshire, Public Health Nutritionist and adviser to berry industry body British Summer Fruits commented: “These are really interesting findings. Around 7.6 million people in the UK are currently living with heart and circulatory diseases. We know that healthy living, which includes healthy eating, can help to reduce the risk of developing heart disease, prevent weight gain and lower diabetes risk.

“Eating plenty of fruit and vegetables is important for health, and this is another indication that eating berries, as part of that, could be a good option for many people. We know that we should be aiming for about five portions of fruit and vegetables daily. In the UK, a portion of small-sized fresh fruit is equivalent to about seven strawberries.

“Therefore, adding strawberries as a breakfast topper, eating them as snack in between meals, or serving with natural yoghurt as a dessert could all contribute to daily fruit servings and the health benefits they offer.”

British Summer Fruits is an organisation that represents 95 per cent of berries supplied to UK supermarkets.  It funds Love Fresh Berries – a year-round campaign that celebrates the seasonality of soft fruits.