Cancer Fighting Food in Season: Strawberries
Laura Rutledge, MA, RDN, CSO is an Assistant Professor in the University of Alabama at Birmingham Department of Nutrition Sciences. She is a registered dietitian and licensed nutritionist with over 25 years of experience in hospital clinical dietetics, outpatient oncology, and weight management. In addition to teaching, Laura works with oncology patients and those with chronic disease in a survivorship and supportive care clinic. Laura recently developed www.NourishingPLate.com as a resource to provide evidence-based nutrition information and healthy recipes for cancer prevention, treatment, and survivorship.
Not only are strawberries beautiful to look at, they are also packed with nutrition.
May is National Strawberry Month. Now that it finally feels like spring (really, we just leap-frogged spring and just went straight into summer temperatures!), I have been enjoying fresh fruits and vegetables that are coming into season. This is peak season in the southern US and I look forward to eating fresh-picked strawberries with breakfast, lunch, and dinner!
Epidemiological studies have long shown that consumption of a diet high in fruits and vegetables is associated with lower risk of cancers.1 Research is ongoing to identify what specific compounds in foods provide cancer prevention and therapeutic potential. One of the compounds identified is fisetin—a type of antioxidant in the flavonoid family containing anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic properties. Preclinical studies have shown that fisetin may inhibit cancer growth through apoptosis along with providing antiangiogenic and antimetastatic effects.1
A number of fruits and vegetables contain fisetin but, by far, strawberries have the highest concentration. Strawberries are also high in Vitamin C, folate, fiber, and other antioxidants, as well as potassium and manganese.
Fisetin concentration (µg/g)
A recently published study, analyzing data from the Nurses’ Health Study II, found that women with the most flavonoid-rich diet (including tea, red wine, peppers, blueberries, and strawberries) had a 19% lower risk of death from all causes compared to non-consumers.2 Looking specifically at strawberries, in vitro studies have demonstrated the berries’ ability to exert antiproliferative activity by promoting apoptosis and suppressing cell migration, adhesion, and invasion.3
Strawberries contain just 50 kcal per cup with 8 grams of (natural) sugar and 3 grams of fiber. I recently created a recipe—Cannoli Cream with Strawberries and Pistachios—using fresh, juicy strawberries but also love them on their own, blended into a smoothie or mixed with Greek yogurt for a snack.
How do you enjoy fresh strawberries in season?
- Khan N, Syed D, Ahmad N, Mukhtar H. Fisetin: A dietary antioxidant for health promotion. Antioxid Redox Signal. 2013;19(2):151-62. doi: 10.1089/ars.2012.4901.
- Ivey KL, Jensen MK, Hodgson JM, Eliassen AH, Cassidy A, Rimm EB. Association of flavonoid-rich foods and flavonoids with risk of all-cause mortality. Br J Nutr. 2017;117(10):1470-1477. doi: 10.1017/S0007114517001325.
- Giampieri F, Forbes-Hernandez TY, Gasparrini M, et al. The healthy effects of strawberry bioactive compounds on molecular pathways related to chronic diseases. Ann NY Acad Sci. 2017;1398(1):62-71. doi: 10.1111/nyas.13373.