Are Strawberries Healthy? The Health Benefits Of Strawberries Explained
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What comes to mind when you hear the word “summer”? Depending on who you ask, right? For some, it’s the cool waters of their local beach. For others, it’s soft, smooth ice cream. For still others, it’s family barbeques in the late afternoon. And for some, it’s the delicious fruits that the warm weather brings with it.
You’re probably thinking along my lines now – strawberries! What makes these little fruits so impressive (aside from their taste)? Read on to learn about all the goodness these cheery red fruits have to offer.
What Exactly Are Strawberries? Where Do They Come From?
I know, I know. They’re called strawberries for a reason – because they’re berries! Duh. Um….no. While their name is certainly misleading, true berries are fruits that come from a single flower with a single ovary, such as bananas, avocados, and pumpkin.
Yep, a pumpkin is more of a berry than a strawberry is! Strawberries are actually called “accessory fruits” or “aggregate fruits” (but if you referred to them as ‘berries’ until now, don’t worry; most people do!) If you want to be super accurate, they aren’t even fruits; the strawberry plant is called a “runner plant” – but it’s generally accepted to call them fruits.
Strawberries belong to the rose family, and once planted, a strawberry runner plant will re-bloom every year (a perennial plant), though the produce is best up until about the fifth year of blooming. While wild strawberries have been around for centuries, the garden strawberry is believed to have been first grown in France during the 18th century, and soon replaced the wild strawberry as the common form of the fruit.
Strawberries Nutritional Content Explained
They’re not just delicious, they’re also nutritious! As cliché as that sounds, it’s true. To break it down for you: (per one cup serving; approximately)
· Fibre – 3-3.8 g
· Carbs – 11-12 g
· Vitamin C – 89-90 mg
· Manganese – 0.6 mg
· Potassium – 233 mg
· Vitamin K – 3.3-3.7 mcg
· Calcium – 23-24.3 mg
· Folate – 25-30 mcg
Strawberries also contain other vitamins, like Vitamins B6 and E, as well as minerals like iron, copper and phosphorus.
Strawberries For Weight Loss Explained
The good thing about being on a diet is that you can still enjoy delicious foods, and you’re (hopefully) losing weight, and keeping your body healthy at the same time! No, you can’t eat a whole cake (well, you could, but that’s probably not the best way to diet). But you can enjoy delicious fresh strawberries, on their own or in a low-fat smoothie, as part of your weight loss program.
Aside from being very low in calories, strawberries contain antioxidants known as ellagic acid and anthocyanins, which are anti-inflammatory – and chronic inflammation is a common cause for weight gain. They also slow down your digestion of starches, which prevents a spike in blood sugar. Anthocyanins, in particular, get your metabolism going and suppress your appetite, through stimulating the production of hormones called adiponectin and leptin.
People are often mildly dehydrated and can think that they are hungry when really, they are thirsty. This can obviously lead to weight gain if you’re snacking on something that isn’t doing your waistline any favours. You can keep yourself hydrated by drinking enough water, and also by eating foods with a high water content. Since strawberries are 90% water, they are a good choice for people who are trying to keep hydrated in order to lose weight.
Plus, they’re sweet and can satisfy your sugar craving in a healthy, non-fattening way.
Strawberries For Antioxidants Explained
For such small fruits, strawberries sure are packed with antioxidants!
We briefly touched on ellagic acid and anthocyanins, but there are other benefits besides weight loss that your body gets from these antioxidants. Anthocyanins are the reason that strawberries have their beautiful red colour, and they help fight against chronic inflammation and blood clotting, as well as lower your cholesterol. All these benefits protect you from developing cardiovascular disease. Ellagic acid, as well, helps to lower cholesterol and is believed to have anti-cancerous properties, as well as anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties.
Vitamin C is probably the obvious one: it protects your body from free radical damage and encourages tissue growth and repair. Your body also needs Vitamin C for collagen production, which is what helps your skin, hair and bones to grow healthily, and one cup strawberries can fill your entire recommended dose of Vitamin C for the day.
Quercetin, a flavonoid in strawberries, is an anti-inflammatory and an anti-histamine and is also believed to help fight against cancer and heart disease.
Folic acid, which is vital for everyone, but especially for pregnant women, is found in strawberries, too.
Strawberries For Cancer Prevention Explained
In light of all the antioxidants that strawberries contain, it isn’t surprising that doctors are looking to them as one of the foods that may help fight against cancer.
● Fibre can remove toxins that help with the development of cancer.
● Tumours feed on blood vessels, which makes the cancer spread, but ellagic acid slows down the growth of blood vessels.
● Ellagic acid also fights against carcinogens; substances in the body that cause cancer to develop and spread.
● Quercetin causes apoptosis, a process which kills off cancer cells.
● Cyanidin-3-glucoside (C3G), a pigment found in strawberries, is said to enhance the positive effects of cancer treatment like Herceptin, a drug used by women suffering from breast cancer.
The anti-cancerous benefits are far more prevalent in organic strawberries and are even more concentrated in freeze-dried organic strawberries.
Strawberries For Mental Health Explained
Although very different from cancer, dementia (the most common form of which is Alzheimer’s disease) is a devastating illness that affects older people, and sometimes middle-aged people as well. Evidence shows that strawberries can also delay the effects of cognitive decline, an important find for those who are suffering from or have family members with Alzheimer’s.
Since cognitive decline is predominantly caused by free radical damage and oxidative stress, scientists are researching how foods rich in antioxidants (known to fight off free radicals) affect your brain. Strawberries were an obvious choice for research, as they fit the bill – they are known to contain powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. But the results of the studies were even better than expected.
According to one study, the flavonoids (a sub-class of polyphenols) in strawberries can delay cognitive decline for up to 2 and a half years! This is because they’re great stress-busters and fight off inflammation – which, as we said, is the main reason for cognitive decline.
Microglia are cells that help keep our brains functioning – they remove debris and stuff that would prevent our brains from working properly.
But microglia get old too, and like us, get weaker and more confused – as people age, microglia can take longer to respond to debris, which allows it to build up in the brain, and they can also start to attack healthy cells.
But strawberries contain polyphenols, chemicals that restore the autophagy process (“brain cleaning”); they promote healthy microglia function. In layman’s terms, they fight against what causes dementia, delaying the symptoms.
Not worrying about your old age yet? It’s still a good idea to increase the amount of strawberries you eat – folate is said to improve memory, processing and concentration, which is good news for people of any age. Vitamin C and iodine, besides other health benefits, are also great for your brain health – and yep, you’ll find them in strawberries. To get the most out of strawberries, it’s best to eat them with a healthy breakfast, so you get a brain-healthy boost at the start of your day.
Ever wondered what is the Health Benefits of Strawberries?#healthbehaviors #HealthyEating #HealthyLiving #BeHealthy #GivingTuesday2017 #nutrition #NutriTips #weightloss #weightlossmotivation #loseweight #nutritional #Happy #Smile pic.twitter.com/c76XKnYwMZ
— Jenine_HealthCoach (@JHealthcoach) November 28, 2017
Strawberries For Bone Health Explained
It’s astonishing really, how many people suffer from osteoporosis (a disease which negatively affects bone quality) or are at risk of it developing. To keep your bones in the best shape possible, you need to be getting plenty of bone-healthy nutrients, like calcium (essential for bone-building and healthy bones),
Vitamin K (which keeps calcium inside your bone tissue, and is responsible for the formation of the protein osteocalcin, which helps form your bones), Vitamin C (which is needed for collagen production, and, like Vitamin K, also helps calcium be absorbed into your bone matrix), potassium (which neutralizes acids that weaken bones) and manganese (which is needed for collagen production and bone cartilage).
You may be seeing a common thread here: all these nutrients are contained——- in strawberries! In fact, strawberries have more Vitamin C than an equal amount of oranges has, despite the orange’s reputation as being packed with this essential vitamin.
Getting enough nutrients that are needed for bone formation is important whether you are younger (as your bones are still forming) or if you’re older (to keep your bones strong and resistant to decreasing in density). As strawberries contain so many vital minerals and vitamins, it’s recommended to include them as part of a bone-healthy diet.
Can People Be Allergic To Strawberries?
You’d be hard-pressed to find a food that no-one is allergic to. However, a strawberry allergy isn’t one of the most common allergies. Still, it is possible to be allergic to them.
A strawberry allergy can bring on a variety of uncomfortable or dangerous symptoms, like itchy or irritated skin/hives, wheezing or coughing, vomiting, diarrhoea, dizziness, or a severe allergic reaction (though this is rare). Strawberry allergies are commonly genetic and if you’re allergic to strawberries, it’s likely that you’re also allergic to pears, peaches, blackberries, apples and cherries – and vice versa.
If you are severely allergic to strawberries (anaphylactic), your symptoms will be more severe, such as a rapid pulse, difficulty breathing, loss of consciousness/fainting, and a drop in blood pressure. If not attended to immediately, anaphylaxis can result in death. If you are anaphylactic to strawberries, see your doctor. You will probably be instructed to purchase an EpiPen auto-injector (which carries one dose of epinephrine and neutralizes allergy symptoms) and carry it with you at all times.
What Happened To Me After I Started Eating More Strawberries?
Unfortunately, I only recently started discovering all the amazing benefits of strawberries, and being that its winter, there isn’t a strawberry around for miles where I live! I’m well-informed now, though, and come summer, I look forward to indulging in these delicious fruits and reaping the many health benefits.
Is it summer where you’re living/ visiting right now? Lucky you! Go out and buy yourself a tray or two – or go to a strawberry farm and pick out your own! Strawberry picking makes for a great family activity, as well. It keeps adults, teenagers and kids entertained for a good couple of hours – and afterwards, you get to enjoy the delicious, healthy results.
It’s not for nothing that strawberries are so loved. I’ve never met a person who doesn’t like them (sorry to those of you who don’t like strawberries – you’re in the minority here!).
When you used to eat strawberries, you knew they were healthy, sure; but did you realise you were improving your mental health, bones, and possibly protecting yourself against cancer – while enjoying a yummy snack or sweet end to your meal at the same time? Me neither!
But now you know – and I’ll bet you won’t look at this small, unassuming fruit the same way again.