Monthly Food Feature: Strawberries


IMG_5343When you look at a strawberry, what do you see?  I see a heart, especially when I’ve hulled it!  Besides its shape and bright red color that may remind you of a heart, the strawberry has a close connection to that important muscle.  It has wonderful nutritional properties that contribute to cardiovascular health.  Is it a coincidence that the strawberry looks like a heart?

Nutritional Profile and Health Benefits

Besides being great tasting, strawberries are low in calories.  One cup of this fruit contains approximately 46 calories so load up your dish!    There are more reasons to love strawberries.  To start, strawberries are:

  • An excellent source of vitamin C and manganese;
  • A very good source of fiber, iodine, and folate; and
  • A good source of copper, potassium, biotin, phosphorus, magnesium, vitamin B6 and omega-3 fats.

IMG_5342The greatest benefit from strawberries seems to come from the antioxidant properties of the fruit.  Of the commonly eaten foods in the US, strawberries were ranked among the top 50 for antioxidant capacity (based on US research).  When comparing just the fruits used in this research, strawberries were ranked 4th for their antioxidant benefits.  The higher ranked fruits were also berries.

How do Strawberries Contribute to Health?

There are specific phytonutrients in strawberries that may help with a number of health conditions:

Cardiovascular Health – Among the most important issues related to cardiovascular health is oxidation and inflammation.  Containing high levels of vitamin C and manganese, and an array of phytonutrients, strawberries may reduce oxidation and inflammation in the body when eaten frequently, and therefore help reduce issues with cardiovascular disease.

Blood Sugar Regulation – Some interesting research is being conducted about strawberry consumption linked to reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, and blood sugar regulation.  Apparently, there are specific polyphenols in strawberries that may inhibit the activity of an enzyme that plays a role in breaking down starches into simple sugars, which when inhibited reduces the simple sugars released into the blood stream.  (Ref)

Cancer Protection and Other Health Benefits – The high levels of antioxidants, anti-inflammatory properties, and fiber of strawberries, as already highlighted, may be responsible for preventing many types of cancers such as breast, cervical, colon and esophageal. Specifically related to reducing inflammation, strawberries may be beneficial for slowing down the aging process, helping with various types of arthritis, maintaining eye health, and improving inflammatory bowel problems.

Preserving the Nutrients in Strawberries

©Glenn Jenkinson

©Glenn Jenkinson

Since strawberries spoil easily, they may lose the important polyphenols and other nutrients quickly.  Excessive processing of strawberries can also reduce their nutrient levels.  To get the most benefits, eat strawberries when fresh or store in the refrigerator for no more than 2 days.  You can also freeze strawberries for up to 1 year.

When stored in the refrigerator, keep the unwashed strawberries in the part of the fridge with higher humidity, such as the cold storage drawer.  When freezing strawberries, be sure to wash them before freezing, with or without stems, and pat dry.  Keep in a heavy-duty plastic bag, preferably whole to retain as much of the vitamin C and other nutrients intact.

Food Sensitivities

There are people with food sensitivities to strawberries.  Be cautious about any reactions you or others may get from consuming this fruit.  Strawberries that have been conventionally grown are also one of the top foods that when tested for pesticide exposure showed pesticide residue.

Easy Recipes

Eating strawberries as fresh fruit is the best way to get all of the nutrients.  However, with minimal cooking, there are creative ways to use strawberries in entrees and desserts as well.  Here are a couple of recipes we thought you would enjoy.  Be sure to also check out our original recipes:  Strawberry Chocolate Nut Logs and Strawberry Basil Pasta Toss.

From Whole Foods:

Baked Salmon with Spinach and Strawberry Salsa

Refreshing taste for an old-time favorite.  This recipe is quick and easy for a weeknight dinner.

From MyRecipes.com:

Strawberry, Pistachio, and Goat Cheese Pizza Fresh ingredients and minimal cooking.  This recipe calls for a prepared pizza crust; however, you can make your own crust or use naan bread if you like.

References & Research

Recipe of the Week: Strawberry Basil Pasta Toss

Bonus Recipe: Strawberry Chocolate Nut Log

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About aspireperspirenourish

We are sisters who share a passion for healthy living! Each of us brings different knowledge and skills to this project, some similar experiences and a whole lot of shared passion for mindful, fit and nutritious living. This blog is our way of spreading our knowledge and passion about motivation, fitness and nutrition for everyday living. It is also our forum for finding like-minded people from whom we can learn. To learn more about us, please see our "About" page.
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2 Responses to Monthly Food Feature: Strawberries

  1. Seema says:

    We all love Strawberries the queen of fruits. Strawberry benefits are endless I read, Its also helps in Whitening teethes, Boost Immunity, help in preventing Wrinkles and many more. But sad part is, as demand is increasing pesticide issues are increasing, Its good to buy from trusted seller or soaking strawberries with distilled white vinegar(10%) and water solution(90%) for 15-20 minutes, will help to remove Pesticides significantly.

    Nice Post Lia, Thanks for sharing.

    Like

  2. Hello, Seema. Thanks for your contribution. I agree that it’s very important to wash fresh fruit thoroughly. Strawberries are one of the top fruits that are part of the “Dirty Dozen” foods that have the most pesticides when grown traditionally. Those grown organically are not exposed to pesticides.

    Like

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