How a daily dose of strawberries can help make you slim and toned
It's the quintessential summer fruit - and now scientists have discovered it can help us slim down and shape up.
Strawberries contain an ingredient which melts away excess body fat, by turning it into calorie-burning brown fat, according to new research.
A raft of other seasonal fruits also contain a special compound called 'resveratrol', including berries, grapes, raspberries and apples.
Diets containing resveratrol will combat serious cases of obesity, experts say.
Red wine contains the ingredient, but it does not have the same effect as certain members of the fruit family, because much of the resveratrol is lost during fermentation.
Scientists have also discovered resveratrol converts 'bad' white fats in the body into 'good' brown fat, which burns up calories.
Tests carried out on mice indulging in a high-fat diet, and fed resveratrol showed their body weight dropped by as much as 40pc.
Other polyphenol chemicals in fruit may have a similar weight reducing effect, scientists believe.
Lead researcher, Min Du, from Washington State University, US, said the make-up of certain fruits can act as a protection against the body being "overloaded" with certain fats.
"They help keep the body in balance and prevent obesity and metabolic dysfunction."
The antioxidant resveratrol has also been shown to protect against heart disease - as well as improving memory.
Antioxidants of this kind also help prevent cancer.
Gary McCarthy, of the Irish Soft Fruit Growers Association, pointed out they are an excellent source of folic acid, a crucial vitamin for mothers-to-be.
Experts say women should start increasing their folic acid intake four weeks before conceiving to get the full protection for their unborn child.
It is known to protect against spina bifida and other neural tube defects in children
"These are some of the healthiest foods people can eat; they are packed with essential nutrients," Mr McCarthy told the Irish Independent. He said the new study, reported in the International Journal of Obesity, was timely as business is on the up.