Strawberries are best known for being juicy and delicious, but in addition to their sweet taste, these mighty little berries do us a lot of good. They may, in fact, rival spinach in terms of nutrient richness. Furthermore, with just 49 calories per cup, a relatively low amount of sugar and a good source of dietary fiber, strawberries are possibly one of the most nutrient dense fruits you can eat.
The strawberries you select have an important impact on the health benefits you’ll reap (read on to discover more). So, when purchasing strawberries, bear in mind the following factors:
1. Look at the color and the condition of the skin. They should be a bright, deep, red color.
2. Check their smell. Strawberries should have a fragrant, sweet smell, showing that they have become ripe enough.
3. Berries that appear dark and mushy should be avoided. This indicates that they are going to spoil pretty quickly.
4. An under-ripe strawberry will have a white or slightly green color at the top. These should be avoided as they lack flavor. Alternatively, you could wait for several days for them to ripen before eating them.
5. Keep strawberries refrigerated and unwashed. This will prolong their freshness. Washing strawberries ahead of time can cause them to grow mold.
8 Incredible Health Benefits of Strawberries
Studies conducted on strawberries show that they contain a high source of various antioxidants. Strawberries also contain two essential micronutrients (vitamins A and C) which act as antioxidants in the body. These essential vitamins are one of the body’s first lines of defense. They help reduce free radical (an atom or molecule that has a single unpaired electron in an outer shell) damage that leads to inflammation and chronic diseases.
Antioxidants ‘donate’ electrons to unstable free radicals which are missing electrons. They also slow the occurrence of oxidative stress, which is primarily responsible for the aging process as well as the formation of most diseases, including cancer, heart disease, diabetes and neurological disorders. Eating strawberries therefore counteracts the damaging effects caused by free radicals, slowing the aging process and reducing inflammation.
Research has shown that strawberries may help fight against cancer. In fact, studies show that strawberries may block initiation of cancer cell formation (known as carcinogenesis). They have also been found to suppress the progression and proliferation of cancerous tumors. Furthermore, in a controlled study, participants who were given strawberry extract containing anthocyanin antioxidants, had reduce human liver cancer cells when compared to the group that did not receive the extract. In addition, studies show that consuming berries lowers the risk of breast, colon, prostate and skin cancer.
The antioxidants in strawberries have been found to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease by slowing down LDL (bad) cholesterol, and limiting plaque build-up in the arteries. They have also been found to improve blood vessel function and blood pressure, as well as decrease the formation of dangerous blood clots inside blood vessels (known as thrombosis). Strawberry extracts have been shown to decrease the inflammatory response within the body – a major cause of heart disease. Furthermore, oxidative damage has also been linked to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke, so eating strawberries which are packed with antioxidants can help fight this process too.
As we age, the condition and appearance of the skin is altered. Usually a result of a poor diet, sun exposure and environmental toxins, the skin undergoes photo-aging, inflammation and may also show signs of immune dysfunction, acne and other skin disorders. Studies show that one of the best foods for skin health is strawberries and other berries, primarily because they are rich in antioxidants like vitamins A and C, which have been found to improve skin properties, lower levels of wrinkles and discoloration as well as boost skin elasticity. Vitamin C has also been found to promote collagen synthesis, photo-protection from ultraviolet A and B, as well as improving a variety of inflammatory rashes.
Studies show that diets rich in strawberries have the potential to protect the brain against aging. Strawberries are high in flavanoids like anthocyanidins, which have been found to improve cognition in experimental studies. As long-term intakes of berries and flavonoids reduce the rate of oxidation damage in the brain, health practitioners therefore recommend that people include berries in their diet as much as possible to defend against oxidative stress and inflammation in the brain, as well as the loss of memory and diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Most westerners have a diet high in convenience and packaged foods, which are usually packed with sugar, refined fats, artificial ingredients and toxins – all of which are hard on the digestive system. Strawberries may help detoxify the body, restoring the health of the digestive tract, promoting digestive regularity and providing anti-inflammatory antioxidants. Vitamins A and C found in strawberries also help the body to detoxify, as do the vital antioxidants they contain. Both help the body to neutralize and eliminate toxins, including excessive free radical damage, inflammation and digestive conditions.
Just one cup contains an impressive 29 percent of your daily manganese intake. Manganese is an essential nutrient needed for proper nervous system and brain health. It helps prevent neurological disorders like Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy. This mineral is also essential in the formation of bones, connective tissues, making blood-clotting possible and producing enough reproductive sex hormones.
Strawberries are a great source of folate – one cup supplies about 9 percent of your RDA. This B vitamin helps tissues grow, cells properly function and is also crucial for a healthy pregnancy. In fact, consuming a good amount of strawberries before and during pregnancy has been found to prevent certain birth defects, including spina bifida. Folate also prevents anemia.