Strawberries are currently in their prime season in the Valley. The large, vibrantly red berries can be found in all the local markets and in use by local restaurants in a variety of ways.
While strawberries are likely to be the healthiest when eaten plain, this popular fruit begs to be included in dishes for additional bursts of flavor and color.
Many restaurants in the area offer salads adorned with fresh strawberries, and they are always popular used in dessert concoctions.
While the taste is enough to get one hooked on them, many may not realize they are low in calories, fat-free, sodium-free, and cholesterol-free, and the health benefits of strawberries don’t stop there.
Boost to the immune system
Reported to be an excellent source of vitamin C, one-half cup of strawberries (one serving) contains approximately 51.5 mg of the vitamin, which is about half of the recommended daily requirement. Since humans do not have the ability to produce vitamin C naturally, one must be sure to include it in a healthy diet. Adequate vitamin C is critical to a strong and healthy immune system. Strawberries also possess a strong anti-oxidant quality and are a good source of manganese and potassium.
Helpful to eye health
The natural antioxidant qualities in fresh strawberries are thought to help prevent cataracts, which can cause sight problems as they worsen. The vitamin C in strawberries not only helps protect the eyes from the sun’s harsh ultra-violet rays, which can damage the protein in the lens, but also helps strengthen the cornea and retina. (Note: vitamin C supplements don’t have that quality).
A natural cancer-fighter
Foods that carry the antioxidant factor can help prevent cancer since it promotes immune system health. Antioxidants neutralize free-radicals so they don’t damage cells as easily. Strawberries also contain ellagic acid, which has been shown to suppress cancer cell growth.
Who would know that eating strawberries can help promote a youthful appearance? Foods rich in vitamin C, like these berries, help the body produce essential collagen. As one ages, it is advisable to eat natural collagen-producing foods so as to improve skin’s elasticity.
Fights bad cholesterol
The ellagic acid and flavonoids in strawberries distribute an antioxidant effect that benefits heart health. These items counteract “bad” cholesterol (LDL) which tries to clog arteries with plaque build-up. These elements also have an anti-inflammatory effect which is helpful to heart function. Given that the shape of a strawberry is similar to a heart, it’s not hard to remember those benefits.
Helps blood pressure
Since strawberries also contain potassium (134mg per servings), they are also beneficial to regulating blood pressure as they counteract the negative effects of sodium. Because of their many healthful qualities, strawberries are viewed as a very heart-healthy fruit.
Oh baby – love those berries
Not only are they delicious and refreshing, but expectant mothers get an additional benefit from strawberries. With 21mcg of folate (a B-vitamin recommended for women who are pregnant or trying to conceive) per serving, strawberries help provide an essential element for development of a baby’s brain, skull, and spinal cord. Some medical sources have said the folic acid in the berries may be helpful against some birth defects.
So, whether one prefers them plain or tossed in a salad, or combined with other fruits, strawberries are a good source of nutrition and especially delicious this time of year!