Strawberries protect boozers' stomachs? What study shows

Another common source of food poisoning is berries, including strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries. A 1997 outbreak that sickened thousands of children via school lunches was traced to hepatitis A-contaminated frozen strawberries (possibly from a farm worker in Baja California, Mexico). Other cases - linked to imported raspberries from Chile and Guatemala - have been caused by a germ called Cyclospora, which causes severe diarrhea, dehydration, and cramps.More from Health.com: When is it okay to eat moldy food?
istockphoto
istockphoto

(CBS) Too much alcohol can be bad on the stomach. But snacking on strawberries before imbibing seems to help.

If you're a rat, anyway.

PICTURES: 14 "facts" about drinking: Are you misinformed?

European researchers gave a 10-day regimen of strawberry extract to ethanol-drinking lab rats, and found they had fewer stomach ulcers than rats that weren't given strawberries.

The scientists said this study might provide relief to ulcer and gastritis sufferers. Gastritis is an inflammatory condition that causes nausea, vomiting, and stomach pain. Some cases of gastritis are related to alcohol consumption, though others are caused by a virus, they said.

"In these cases, the consumption of strawberries...could lessen stomach mucous membrane damage," study author Maurizio Battino, a research coordinator at Marche Polytechnic University in Italy, said in a written statement.

How do strawberries do the body good? Besides their antioxidant capacity, strawberries activate enzymes that may fight inflammation, study co-author Sara Tulipani, a researcher at the University of Barcelona, said.

If they also protect the stomach against alcohol damage, that's not the only thing strawberries can do.

The vitamin and antioxidant-packed fruits can also protect the heart, increase levels of good cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and guard against cancer, according to WebMD.

Don't be too quick to toast the scientists behind the study.

"This study was not conceived as a way of mitigating the effects of getting drunk but rather as a way of discovering molecules in the stomach membrane that protect against the damaging effects of differing agents," Battino said.

The study was published in the Oct. 25 issue of the journal, PLoS One.