WHAT WE KNOW
Many people view superfoods as exotic fruits and vegetables from far and distant places. However, foods don’t have to be exotic to be super. Strawberries are some of the best fruits you can eat, thanks to a variety of nutrients. Over 600 cultivars of strawberries are grown and consumed in the US alone.1 And thanks to the temperate climates of Florida and California, you can eat strawberries nearly year-round. But what makes strawberries so great? The ruby-colored fruits that you’ve likely been eating every summer for your entire life are chock-full of health-promoting compounds like folic acid, vitamin C, fiber, anthocyanins and quercetin. And fortunately for all of us health-conscious folk, strawberries have been studied more extensively than almost any other fruit or vegetable.
WHAT THE STUDIES SHOW
In a recent article, Afrin and colleagues reviewed over 140 studies regarding the health benefits of strawberries, with a special focus on clinical research.2 What they describe will likely inspire you to eat a whole pint of strawberries as soon as you can. While some research exists regarding strawberry intake and health and disease processes like cognitive function and cancer development, the vast majority of evidence that supports strawberries as a health food has focused on cardiovascular and metabolic health. One prospective study demonstrated that high flavonoid intake, particularly from berries like strawberries and blueberries, was associated with lower risk of hypertension. Additionally, strawberry intake has been shown to reduce triglycerides, LDL-cholesterol and total cholesterol. Strawberry intake may also improve blood glucose and reduce a hyperglycemic response to food by decreasing glucose uptake and transport in the intestine. Several studies indicate that regular strawberry consumption improves the body’s antioxidant defense systems and that strawberry bioactive constituents neutralize and scavenge free radicals. Furthermore, strawberry consumption leads to a reduction in circulating inflammatory markers, which may reduce cell damage and risk for chronic diseases. Collectively, the studies described by Afrin and colleagues overwhelmingly support the notion that strawberries can and should be included in a heart-healthy diet.
Because strawberries are abundantly available and reasonably priced throughout the US and have myriad health benefits and delicious flavor, we recommend eating these berries as often as you can! To prevent waste, buy strawberries regularly and in quantities that can be consumed within a few days. In order to maximize nutrient content and flavor, store your strawberries in a moisture-proof container for 1-3 days in the refrigerator. Washing and hulling them ahead of time may save you some work, but you will lose nutrients by doing so. Instead, rinse your strawberries, pat dry, and then hull them right before eating in order to get the most nutrient bang from your berries.
Looking for more interesting ways to incorporate these tasty berries into your diet? Try our Sweet and Savory Tilapia Tacos with a strawberry avocado salsa. If you want to be a hit with kids and adults alike at your next potluck, build these Fruit Skewers with Yogurt Dip. But no matter how you decide to eat your strawberries, be sure to include them in your diet as often as you can to reap the benefits of these scrumptious little fruits!
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Video Center: Selection. Storage. Preparation.
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Key Nutrients in Fruits & Vegetables
Fruit & Veggie Database