Strawberries, perhaps the best-known berries, are a popular treat in spring and summer. Coveted for both flavor and texture, strawberries are also nutritional powerhouses that are part of a healthy diet. In recent years, the benefits of this juicy red fruit have been incorporated into skin care products.
Discover the precious strawberry and its many health benefits below.
What exactly are strawberries?
The scientific name of strawberry is Fragaria ananassa. It is technically a hybrid member of the Rosaceae (rose) family. The strawberry originated in Europe, where the ancient Romans viewed it as a decoration rather than an edible fruit. Strawberries are believed to have been first cultivated for food in France around 1300. The French discovered a version of the berry in Chile (Fragaria chiloensis) and brought it back with them in the 1700s, but the Chilean version was considered difficult to grow in drier, warmer climates.
What are the nutritional values of strawberries? Calories, carbohydrates, sugar, etc.
Like other plant foods, strawberries are a nutrient-dense, low-calorie selection of products. Here are the measurements for 100 grams (g) (about half a cup) of raw strawberries:
Total fat: 0.22 g
Dietary fiber: 1.8g
Calcium: 12 milligrams (mg)
Vitamin A: 1 microgram (mcg)
Vitamin C: 56mg
Vitamin K: 2.1 mcg
As you can see, strawberries are an excellent source of vitamin C. By incorporating them into your diet, you can reach the recommended amount (75 mg a day for women and 90 mg a day for men) and enjoy the benefits of this nutrient. In addition, strawberries do not contain cholesterol.
Are strawberries good for health? An overview of its known health benefits
Strawberries are classified as whole foods, meaning they are not modified or processed. They are low in calories but high in nutrients, so you get what you pay for. The fruit also has a high water content, which makes you feel fuller for longer. Strawberries are also functional foods, meaning they provide benefits beyond their nutritional value.
The deep red color of strawberries is not only aesthetically appealing, it is also linked to some of their health benefits. Strawberries owe their color to pigments called anthocyanins. These antioxidant-rich chemicals help neutralize substances called free radicals, which are harmful to the body’s cells. Over time, free radicals can harm many systems in the body and promote disease.
According to a review of clinical studies published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, strawberries may help prevent cellular inflammation, which is associated with several diseases, and reduce the risk of the following diseases:
Type 2 diabetes
Are strawberries a good weight loss food?
In addition to the important health benefits already mentioned, some clinical studies suggest that strawberries may help treat obesity-related conditions. It’s low in calories but high in fiber to keep you full.
Eating more low-calorie foods can create the calorie deficit needed to lose weight. Swapping candy and other sweets for strawberries can add up over time and help you shed unwanted pounds.
How to choose and store strawberries for the best flavor?
Due to their naturally tender flesh, strawberries bruise easily. Be careful not to crush them when picking them up. Inspect all containers purchased at the store or farmers’ market to ensure none of the strawberries are discolored or soft. Ideally, the strawberries should be very red, fleshy and firm. Small berries also tend to be tastier. As soon as you get home, immediately put the strawberries in the fridge. They will stay fresh for three days or more, depending on their quality. This also helps preserve the fruit’s vitamin C content, which is very sensitive to heat.
Do not wash fruits before eating them, to avoid mold and stains. When you’re ready to eat the strawberries, wash them in cold water and drain them. You can do this in the original packaging or in a colander. Rub them gently after rinsing them.
You’ll get more health benefits by eating fresh strawberries whole or sliced (instead of processed foods like strawberry jam, which may contain added sugars or other less healthy ingredients). You can enjoy them on their own as a snack or add them to oatmeal, yogurt, or other nutritious foods. Strawberries are also excellent in smoothies and desserts. If strawberries are not in season or not grown locally, consider adding frozen strawberries to your freezer. Frozen berries are often picked when they are freshest and retain their nutritional benefits, making them a great (and often cheaper) choice if you can’t get fresh strawberries easily.
Another possible use for strawberries: they are good for the skin
Due to the high antioxidant content of strawberries, some research has looked into their potential skin benefits. For example, one study found that compounds in strawberries applied topically can help protect the skin from free radicals, which can lead to premature aging and wrinkles. Some research suggests that they protect the skin from the sun’s harmful rays.
The potential side effects of eating too many strawberries
While generally safe when consumed in moderate amounts, strawberries are not completely risk-free. Their high fiber content means that if you eat too much of them too quickly, you risk suffering from gastrointestinal disorders (gas, bloating or abdominal pain, cramping). Gradually increase the amount of fiber you eat and make sure you drink plenty of water. Another more serious risk is an allergic reaction. While not considered as common as pollen and other types of allergies, strawberry allergies can occur in people with an allergy to other plants in the Rosaceae family. There have been reports of reactions in people who also have food allergies to cherries and grapes. When it comes to fruit allergies, the most common are peaches, apples, and kiwis, which are also part of the Rosaceae family.
Food allergies can cause a number of symptoms, including:
Red, blue or pale skin
Swelling, especially around the mouth and tongue
Difficulty speaking and swallowing
Symptoms of a strawberry allergy can appear within 5 to 15 minutes of consuming the food. While strawberry allergy is not as common a food allergy as egg or nut allergy, the associated risks can be just as significant. If you have any of the above symptoms, avoid strawberries and ask your doctor for an allergy test. Food allergies also put you at risk for anaphylaxis, a serious reaction that can lead to serious consequences.
Strawberries are a complete and nutritious food that you should consider adding to your diet. Rich in vitamin C and fiber but low in calories, they have many nutritional benefits and can be integrated into a weight loss diet. You can enjoy strawberries whole or in a healthy salad, smoothie or dessert. Frozen strawberries can be a convenient (and equally nutritious) option if fresh strawberries aren’t in season or are easy to find near you.