Strawberries (Fragaria) are a small, heart shaped, red fruit that belongs to the Rosacea or rose family – the same family as apples, cherries, pears, plums, peaches, blackberries, and raspberries.
The strawberries are native to North America and today are grown worldwide in temperate regions. Narragansett Indians in North America called the fruit ‘wuttahimneash‘ which means heart-seed berry.
There are over 600 varieties of strawberries throughout the world that differ in flavor, size and texture. The most common are June bearing strawberries which are derived from a mix of the Chilean Pine (F. chiloensis) and Scarlet Virginian (F. virginiana) strawberries. Strawberry is available year-round in the stores but they are fresh and plentiful during the peak season, which is from April to June.
Strawberries are probably the most popular type of berry among all the berries fruits. They are juicy, delicious, and extremely healthy. Strawberry is actually not a berry or a fruit but a pseudocarp (also known as false fruit), which consists of many tiny individual fruits embedded in a fleshy receptacle. The brownish or whitish spots, commonly considered seeds are the true fruits, known as achenes. These achenes make strawberries relatively high in fiber, potassium, and low in calories.
The health benefits of strawberries are numerous, as they contain many essential nutrients like folate, flavonoids, quercetin, manganese and vitamin C. Strawberries are a great source of vitamin C. In fact, one cup of strawberries (about 8 strawberries) offers an incredible 150 percent of RDA of vitamin C.
Strawberries are also loaded with some unique phytonutrients which have shown to have anti-aging, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidants properties. The following are some health benefits of strawberries.
- Protect against cancers
The phytonutrients such as flavonoids and ellagitannins present in strawberries exhibit antioxidant properties which have been shown to be beneficial in suppressing the growth of certain cancer cells like breast cancer, colon cancer, lung cancer, and prostate cancer.
- Prevent heart attack
Strawberries contain dietary flavonoids and research has shown that the flavonoids may prevent heart disease by helping to dilate blood vessels and reduce the build-up of plague within the coronary arteries, which could lead to heart attacks. A new study found that women who ate the most strawberries and blueberries had a 32 percent reduction in the risk of heart attack compared to those whose ate less of the berries.
- Lower cholesterol
Strawberries are rich in pectin, a type of soluble fiber that can help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol which can clog arteries.
- Promote eye health
The antioxidant properties in strawberries may help to prevent cataracts. According to a study published in the Archives of Ophthalmology, eating three or more servings of strawberries per day can decrease the chance of getting age-related macular degeneration by over one-third.
- Relieve rheumatoid arthritis
Strawberries contain an excellent source of vitamin C which helps relieve rheumatoid arthritis. Research suggests that people who don’t take vitamin C rich foods are three times more likely to develop arthritis than those who take vitamin C rich foods.
- Maintain bone and teeth health
Strawberries are a good source of manganese and magnesium which helps maintain healthy bones and teeth.
- Fight wrinkle
Being high in vitamin C, strawberry can help fight wrinkle. This vitamin helps to produce collagen in the body which improves skin’s elasticity and resilience. Also, strawberries are high in water content and thus can keep your skin hydrated which leads to healthy glowing skin.
- Improve brain health
The anti-aging properties present in strawberries nourish the brain cells and increase the brain health. A new study found that elderly women who ate more strawberries slowed their cognitive decline by up to 2.5 years.
- Regulate blood pressure
Strawberries may assist in the reduction of high blood pressure due to their high potassium content. Potassium can help regulate blood pressure by acting as a buffer against the negative effects of sodium.
- Maintain a normal weight
Due to its high water content and low calories, strawberries are an excellent food for losing weight and maintain a healthy normal weight.
- Strengthen immune system
The vitamin C in strawberries helps support a healthy immune system and prevent infection.
- Reduce inflammation
The antioxidants and phytochemicals found in strawberries may also help to reduce inflammation of the joints, which may cause arthritis and lead to heart disease. A study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health shows that women who eat 16 or more strawberries per week are 14 percent less likely to have elevated levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) — an indication of inflammation in the body.
- Control blood sugar
Numerous studies have showed that consuming strawberries on a regular basis can significantly lower diabetes risk. This may due to the polyphenols present in strawberries which have been shown to reduce blood sugar elevations and insulin requirement.
When choosing strawberries, look for ones that are shiny, bright deep red color with no soft or dark spots. The darker red the strawberry, the sweeter it will be. Also, check the leaves at the top of the strawberry, the less wilted the leaves, the more fresh the strawberry.