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Tue, 26 Feb ’13

Can Strawberries Stop Your Allergies? Japan Says "Yes"

Finally, an allergy medication that’s not hard to swallow.

Are seasonal allergies ruining your day? Do you actively avoid everything from pet dander to potential pollen sources? Do you need a plastic bubble in order to interact with the real world without dying? Okay, if you identify with that last one, you’re either Jake Gyllenhaal or it might be too late for you, but for the rest of us, Japanese scientists have uncovered a potential allergy killer that tastes good to boot: the strawberry. That’s right – your favorite smoothie ingredient might just be your best friend in the war against sniffles.

Last year, Kitakyushu National College of Technology’s Koji Kawahara, a professor of cellular engineering, discovered a component in strawberries which eases allergic reactions. In his experiment, Professor Kawahara cultured human cells created from blood samples and simulated an allergic reaction using Japanese sinuses’ worst enemy – cedar pollen. Then, Kawahara introduced 190 different foodstuffs – from carrots to onions – to the cultures and, of all the foods, strawberries most reduced the Immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibody, the element in allergens which leads to itchiness and swelling. When given a strawberry-infused diet, lab mice saw marked improvements in cases of rhinitis (runny/stuffy noses) and atopic dermatitis (itchy rashes) after only a week. By all accounts, this news is berry good. (Sorry (we’re not sorry)).

Technically, we have the glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDH) enzyme to thank, but for the sake of convenience, let’s just heap our praise on strawberries. The type of strawberry also has an effect; for example, Toyonaka strawberries resulted in a 22.3% IgE level reduction while Amaou strawberries only reduced the antibodies by 16.7%. Just how many strawberries do you need to eat to reap the benefits? An average 60 kg (132 lbs) human would need to eat 20 strawberries per day for a week in order to start seeing results. Can’t bear to eat that many berries? Break out the blender and start makin’ smoothies! Just make sure to blend 40 strawberries in that first batch because we want one too.