At a Glance: Strawberries

School Of Nutrition Posted Oct 21, 2014 Future Fit Training


Fragrantly sweet strawberries are probably the most popular type of summer berries. So it makes sense to know more about their health benefits.

At a Glance: Strawberries

Although they are at the peak of their season from April through to July, when they are at their most delicious and abundant, they have become increasingly available year-round. 

1 cup of strawberries (152g) provides:

Calories

49kcal

Protein

1g

Carbohydrates

12g

Of which sugars

7g

Fibre

3g

Fat

0.5g

Vitamin C

10mg

Folate

36.5mcg

Potassium

233mg

Manganese

0.6mg

Health Benefits

Strawberries are a very good source of fibre, vitamin C and manganese, an essential cofactor for anti-oxidant enzymes. In fact, just 8 strawberries provide more vitamin C than an orange! They are also rich in potassium, which can help lower blood pressure.

With their bright red colours, strawberries are rich in anthocyanins – a group of anti-oxidants with potential to protect against inflammation and free radical damage. Other anti-oxidant flavonoids found in strawberries include flavonols (such as catechins, quercetins, procyanidins and gallocatechins), tannins, terpenoids and phenolic acids. Given their unique combination of anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrients, it is not surprising that strawberries have been found to help prevent cardiovascular disease and certain types of cancer, as well as regulate blood sugar levels.

These diverse strawberry phytonutrients appear to work together to improve blood cholesterol levels, by lowering total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol.

Strawberries are rich in ellagic acid and ellagitannins – two flavonoids that have shown promising results in cancer prevention in animal studies.  In particular, lung, oesophagus, and skin cancer tumors seem to be inhibited by ellagic acid.

Ellagitannins may also be involved in blood sugar regulation since they are known to inhibit the activity of the enzyme alpha-amylase, which is responsible for breaking amylose starches into simple sugars. When the activity of this enzyme is reduced, fewer simple sugars might be released into the blood stream.

How to select and store

As strawberries are very perishable, they should only be purchased a few days prior to use. Choose berries that are firm, plump, free of mould, and which have a shiny, deep red colour and attached green caps. Strawberries stop ripening once picked. Therefore, avoid those that are dull in colour or have green or yellow patches since they are likely to be sour and of inferior quality. Full ripe berries will not only have the best flavour and texture, but will also have more nutrients. Both under-ripe and over-ripe strawberries have been shown to have lower vitamin C and phytonutrient content in comparison to optimally ripe strawberries.

Strawberries will maintain excellent nutrient content if properly stored in a fridge’s cold storage bin for two days. Make sure not to leave strawberries at room temperature or exposed to sunlight for too long, as this will cause them to spoil.

To freeze strawberries, gently wash them and pat them dry. Arrange them in a single layer on a flat cookie sheet and place them in the freezer. Once frozen, transfer the berries to a heavy plastic bag and return them to the freezer where they will keep for up to one year.

Ways to include more strawberries in your diet

  • Toss sliced strawberries into mixed green salads
  • Add strawberries to breakfast cereals or shakes to give them a more vibrant taste and texture.
  • Layer sliced strawberries with other fruit and plain yogurt in a wine glass to make a parfait dessert.

Blend strawberries with a little bit of orange juice and use as a refreshing coulis sauce.

You can learn more about the benefits of individual foods on our interactive online Nutrition and Weight Management course here

Written by Victoria Trowse

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