Strawberries

Fresh strawberries are my absolute favorite fruit. What’s not to love about them? They are sweet in flavor, juicy, and bursting with vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and many more health-promoting benefits. In fact, one serving (1 cup or 8 large strawberries) contains only 46 calories and provides 12% your daily value (DV) of fiber and 9% DV of folate. They are also excellent sources of vitamin C and manganese, not to mention copper, potassium, biotin, phosphorus, magnesium, and vitamin B6.

Strawberries also have potent anti-inflammatory properties. Chronic inflammation can lead to many diseases such as heart disease and some forms of cancer. Research has shown that consumption of 1 cup of strawberries at least 3 times a week can lower the body’s inflammatory markers, like C-reactive protein [i] [ii] [iii].

The preventative and therapeutic health benefits of strawberries are impressive.

 

Cardiovascular Benefits

Strawberries are abundant in phytonutrients such as anthocyanins, flavonols, and tannins, which help maintain a healthy heart. The phytonutrients are thought to work together to increase HDL (good) cholesterol, lower levels of circulating fat, and decrease blood pressure.  It may not be a coincidence that these heart shaped fruits are also good for your heart [ii] [iii].

 

Blood Glucose Regulation

Regular consumption of strawberries can help reduce the risk of developing type II diabetes. Polyphenols like ellagitannins are believed to help regulate blood glucose levels by inhibiting the alpha-amylase enzyme that breaks down starches into simple sugars, preventing a surge of sugar released into the bloodstream. As few as 2-3 servings a week may be beneficial [ii] [iii].

 

Cancer Prevention

Strawberries top the list of foods with the highest antioxidant concentrations. Vitamin C functions as an antioxidant by protecting the body from cell damage that can lead to skin, breast, lung, or esophageal cancer. One cup of sliced strawberries provides 113% of the daily requirement of vitamin C. Additionally, the phytonutrient quercetin found in the berries may induce self-destruction of cancer cells [i].

Strawberries are at their peak season in the United States right now, typically running from April through July. When purchasing, choose berries that are firm, pump, shiny, deep red in color, and have the green caps attached. It is best to store unwashed and un-hulled strawberries in the refrigerator’s cold storage bin. They are extremely perishable and should be consumed within a few days of buying. Nutrient loss begins after only 2 days of storage. Unlike other fruits, once strawberries are picked they do not continue to ripen. In fact, strawberries that are fully ripened contain the highest nutrient content compared with under or over ripened ones [iii].

If you’re anything like me, you have already tried incorporating strawberries into various recipes from yogurt parfaits to salads. There is no shortage of ways to eat them. Here is a new recipe that’s next on my list to make and perfect to serve at summer parties. It can be paired with tortilla chips or even over grilled fish. Try it yourself and let me know what you think!

Strawberry Mango Salsa
Serves 2
Ingredients
  1. 1 pint strawberries
  2. 1 large mango, preferably manila or champagne
  3. 3/4 Cup chopped fresh cilantro (one small bunch)
  4. 1/4 red onion, minced
  5. 1 whole jalapeno, minced (seeds removed if you prefer less heat)
  6. Juice of 2 limes
  7. 1 Tablespoon honey
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Instructions
  1. Chop up the strawberries and mango into very small bits. Place in a bowl with the cilantro, minced red onion and minced jalapeno. Add honey and lime juice and stir well.
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Adapted from PBS Food Fresh Tastes
Savor Health http://savorhealth.com/

 

References
[i] Giampieri F. Alvarez-Suarez JM, Battino M. Strawberry and human health: Effects beyond antioxidant activity. J Agric Food Chem. 2014. [Epub ahead of print].
[ii] Pinto Mda S, de Carvalho JE, Lajolo FM, Genovese MI, Shetty K. Evaluation of antiproliferative, anti-type 2 diabetes, and antihypertension potentials of ellagitannins from strawberries (Fragaria × ananassa Duch.) using in vitro models. J Med Food. 2010;13(5):1027-35.
[iii] World’s Healthiest Foods. What’s New and Beneficial About Strawberries. Accessed April 24, 2014.
[iv] PBS Food. Fresh Tastes. Welcome Warmer Weather with Strawberry Mango Salsa. Accessed April 24, 2014.
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