It's not an apple a day after all, it's strawberries!
A recent study from scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies suggests that a strawberry a day (or more accurately, 37 of them) could keep not just one doctor away, but an entire fleet of them, including the neurologist, the endocrinologist, and maybe even the oncologist.
The report explains that fisetin, a naturally-occurring flavonoid found most abundantly in strawberries and to a lesser extent in other fruits and vegetables, lessens complications of diabetes. That fisetin can target multiple organs strongly suggests that a single drug could be used to mitigate numerous medical complications.
Pam Maher, Ph.D., a senior staff scientist in the CNL, is the study's corresponding author. Maher initially identified fisetin as a neuroprotective flavonoid ten years ago. "In plants, flavonoids act as sunscreens and protect leaves and fruit from insects," she explains. "As foods they are implicated in the protective effect of the 'Mediterranean Diet."
Other celebrity flavonoids include polyphenolic compounds in blueberries and red wine.
Schubert concurs that their findings only reinforce what common sense and our mothers told us was a healthy lifestyle. "Eat a balanced diet and as much freshly prepared organic food as possible, get some exercise, keep socially and mentally active and avoid sodas with sugar and highly processed foods.
But he also worries that hoops that must be jumped through to bring a natural product like fisetin, as opposed to a totally synthetic drug, to clinical trials are daunting because it is difficult to protect patents on natural products. "We will never know if a compound like fisetin works in humans until someone is willing to support a clinical trial."
Image credit: Image Courtesy of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies - Fisetin, a naturally-occurring flavonoid found most abundantly in strawberries lessens complications of diabetes.