The strawberry daiquiri could soon get a new lease of life – as a health drink.
Alcohol has been found to boost the health-giving properties of strawberries, already known to contain compounds that combat cancer, heart disease and arthritis.
Strawberry daiquiris are made from rum, lime or lemon juice, strawberry liqueur, sugar and fresh strawberries.
Scientists made the discovery while looking for better ways to keep the fruit fresh during storage.
They found that treating strawberries with alcohol enhanced the power of plant chemicals within the fruit to ‘mop up’ destructive molecules called free radicals.
In the body, free radicals damage DNA and cell membranes. They are linked to a wide range of diseases and are thought to be one of the chief causes of ageing.
Anti-oxidant compounds in coloured berry fruits such as strawberries neutralise free radicals produced naturally as a bi-product of metabolism.
The new findings are reported in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture.
Researchers led by Dr Korakot Chanjirakul, from Kasetsart University in Thailand, carried out tests that showed alcohol boosted the anti-oxidant capacity of strawberries by about a third.
Other volatile substances besides alcohol also improved the anti-oxidant properties of strawberries. Similar results were obtained from tests on blackberries.
‘All helped to improve the physiology of berry fruits and enhanced their resistance to decay,’ the scientists wrote.
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