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Folate in strawberries may contribute to healthy pregnancy

A new study links folic acid to reduced premature births.

The Today Show recently reported about a study that shows folic acid supplements greatly reduced the risk of premature birth. Meanwhile, federal health officials say not enough women are taking those supplements.

"The good news for strawberry lovers is that a serving of eight medium berries provides nearly 9 per cent of the daily requirement of folate," says Chris Christian, vice president trade and nutrition of the California Strawberry Commission. "Folic acid is the synthetic form of folate, which is especially important for women of child-bearing age because it reduces the chance of some birth defects, such as spina bifida."

Now, a study from researchers at the University of Texas that followed 35,000 pregnant women over four years, found it drastically reduced the chance of premature births, as well.

Folic acid, or folate, helps the body make healthy new cells. Besides occurring naturally in foods like strawberries, it is often used to enrich breads and cereals. But the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) found that the majority of child-bearing aged women were not meeting their daily requirements.

Folate doesn't just help those giving life, but also those who are aging. It also may be cardioprotective, aid in neurological function and have anti-cancer properties.

In addition to folate, strawberries provide an array of nutrients that may play important roles in heart and brain disease prevention, including vitamin C, potassium, and flavonoids such as anthocyanins, the natural pigments responsible for the red color of strawberries.

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