Health Benefits of Strawberries
Sweet, juicy strawberries, with their vibrant red color, can brighten up the flavor and look of any meal. They are not only delicious, they are low in fat and calories, a good source of fiber and contain antioxidants, which protect the human body from cellular damage caused by free radicals1.
One cup of strawberries provides 50 calories and about 3 grams of fiber, most of which is soluble fiber. Studies have shown that fiber, particularly soluble fiber, can help lower LDL or “bad cholesterol”2.
Fiber helps regulate digestion and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease through its cholesterol-lowering mechanisms. Just one cup of strawberries provides more than 100% of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin C for adults.Vitamin C is an important antioxidant, protecting cells from damaging free radicals.The body also uses vitamin C to make collagen, which helps heal wounds. Vitamin C helps with the absorption of iron and is a critical component of the body's immune system3.
Strawberries + Phytonutrients
Strawberries are loaded with phytonutrients, plant chemicals that contain protective, disease-preventing, compounds, which are being investigated for potential health benefits1. Phenolic compounds are complex organic molecules that a plant produces for protection against diseases and environmental elements. They are also responsible for a fruit’s color, flavor, and aroma.
Flavonoids are a type of phenol known to be potent antioxidants. They have also been shown in studies to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease by inhibiting the oxidation of low density lipoprotein (LDL) or “bad cholesterol”, improving blood vessel function, and decreasing the tendency for blood clotting. In addition, studies have shown that flavonoids decrease the inflammatory process in the body, which helps protect the heart4.
Strawberries have grown wild for millennia throughout the world. Today, there are over 600 varieties of strawberries that all differ in flavor, size and texture. Strawberries are available year round, but peak strawberry season is April through July. California is one of the leading strawberry producing regions in the world, producing almost 2 billion pounds per year5.
Strawberries do not ripen after they are picked, so look for ones that are shiny with a deep, red color and are firm, plump, and free of mold. Avoid ones that are dull in color or have green or yellow patches.
Strawberries are extremely perishable, so store them loosely covered in the refrigerator. Be sure to rinse them well right before eating them.
Did you Know?
Strawberries are a member of the rose family, which is characterized by showy flowers with five separate petals. Strawberries are the only fruit with their seeds on the outside.
How to Enjoy Strawberries
- Add sliced strawberries to a mixed green salad.
- Layer sliced strawberries and other fruit with plain yogurt to make a parfait dessert.
- Add strawberries to a smoothie with yogurt and orange juice.
- Mix chopped strawberries with cinnamon, lemon juice, and maple syrup to use as a topping for waffles and pancakes.
- Create a coulis sauce for desserts by blending strawberries with a little bit of orange juice.
- Place sliced strawberries on toast instead of jam.
- Dip strawberries in antioxidant rich dark chocolate for a delicious and nutritious dessert.
Enjoy the health benefits of strawberries by preparing strawberry recipes.
1. Benzie IF, Choi SW. Antioxidants in food: content, measurement, significance, action, cautions, caveats and research needs. Adv Food Nutr Res. 2014;71:1-53.
2. Kumar V, Sinha AK, Makkar HP, de Boeck G, Becker K. Dietary roles of non-starch polysaccharides in human nutrition: a review. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2012;52(10):899-935.
3. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. National Institutes of Health Web site. Washington DC. Vitamin C. http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminC-Consumer/ Accessed March 24, 2015.
4. Kozlowska A, Szostak-Wegierek D. Flavonoids -- food sources and health benefits. Rocz Panstw Zakl Hig. 2014;65(2):79-85.
5. California Department of Agriculture. Sacramento, CA. California Agriculture Production Statistics Web site. http://www.cdfa.ca.gov/statistics/ Retrieved March 24, 2015.