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“To eat is a necessity, but to eat intelligently is an art,” Francois de la Rochefoucauld couldn’t have said it better. And when it comes to eating intelligently, strawberries are definitely smart food.
Whether used to top off a shortcake, toss into a summer salad, or blend into a smoothie, strawberries pack a punch in both the flavor and health arenas.
Calorific Value of Strawberries
Calorically speaking, 1 cup of strawberries contains approximately 50 calories and 3 grams of fiber. (1)
Health Benefits of Strawberries
Strawberries figure high on the nutritional scale and are credited with multiple health benefits. To start, they are considered a fruit, and eating more fruits and vegetables daily is part of a healthy lifestyle.
One reason fruits and vegetables are strongly encouraged in a healthy diet is their nutrient density and diverse array of plant compounds that support human health.
- Strawberries are a great source of natural antioxidants. The most abundant of these is called ellagic acid. (2) Antioxidants are highly protective at the cellular level against free radical damage and oxidative stress, which are known contributors to chronic disease development.
- Strawberries offer anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-cancer, and cardioprotective benefits due to their rich content of flavonoids, including kaempferol, quercetin, anthocyanins, and catechins. (3)(4)
- Strawberries are also high in vitamin C, folate, and manganese, which are micronutrients that respectively support the immune system, growth and development, bone health, and the metabolism of amino acids, cholesterol, and glucose.
- Low in sugar and high in fiber are also qualities that strawberries possess, making them gold medalists among all their fruit counterparts.
Recommended Daily Intake of Strawberries
There is no “upper limit” to how many strawberries a person can safely eat. However, as with all foods, moderation and variety are key.
Strawberries for Good Skin
Yes, strawberries are nutritional powerhouses that can give you healthy, glowing skin when consumed as part of a well-balanced diet. Research has shown that vitamin C and antioxidants are important for preserving and promoting the structural integrity, appearance, and overall quality of your skin. (5)
Vitamin C is associated with supporting collagen synthesis, and antioxidants help support skin hydration, sebum production, lowered incidence of wrinkles, improved skin elasticity, and reduced skin cancer risk. (5)
Strawberries for Better Reproductive Health
Vitamins and minerals are essential nutrients for human health. While the body can make some of these by itself, others must be derived from food or supplementation.
Folate is an essential B vitamin that is necessary for DNA replication and plays a role in a wide range of enzymatic reactions. During pregnancy, women need more folate not just to fulfill their own body requirement but also to support the growth and development of the fetus. (6)
It is for this reason that women are expected to take a folate-containing prenatal vitamin both before and during pregnancy. This helps prevent certain birth defects in the baby and anemia in the pregnant mother. (6)
Given that strawberries are an abundant source of folate, they would be a supportive component in any pregnant woman’s diet.
Strawberries for Diabetes Management
According to the American Diabetes Association, berries are superfoods. The high concentration of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and fiber in berries makes them beneficial in the fight against chronic illnesses such as diabetes.
Regulation and maintenance of appropriate blood sugar levels are key in managing this particular disease, and diet plays a primary role in achieving this. People with diabetes or prediabetes are recommended to eat foods that are low in sugar and higher in fiber.
Low-sugar foods help to keep blood sugar levels from spiking too high, and fiber helps to regulate and slow down how fast nutrients are absorbed into the bloodstream. Both these mechanisms are essential for keeping blood sugar within a healthy range.
Fiber-rich foods are extremely filling and therefore prevent hunger pangs between meals. This kind of appetite control is very important for people with diabetes as they often struggle with healthy weight management.
On top of that, excess body weight can further deteriorate the condition.
Strawberries for Stronger Immunity
Vitamin C has been shown beneficial to the body when it is coping with sickness or trying to ward off sickness. (7) When harmful organisms get through the skin barrier, vitamin C then takes on an important internal role by supporting the immune system. (8)
When the immune system is working optimally, it is able to keep harmful invading bacteria from causing additional unnecessary problems.
While research doesn’t definitively reveal that vitamin C can prevent a cold, it does show that it can help reduce the frequency, severity, and duration of respiratory infections. (7)
Thus, vitamin C is essential when it comes to boosting the immune system, and even though citrus fruits are famous for being the highest sources of vitamin C, strawberries actually pack a stronger punch.
Strawberries for Lowering Cholesterol
For those who suffer from cardiovascular disease, eating foods that help to regulate cholesterol levels is important. Some studies have been conducted to understand the impact of strawberry consumption on cholesterol levels.
One such study had 23 healthy volunteers consume 500 grams of strawberries over a month, which led to a decrease in their levels of serum LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels with no change in serum HDL cholesterol levels. (9)
Another study demonstrated that strawberries might have a beneficial impact on decreasing cardiovascular disease risk and in helping to keep blood lipid parameters in healthy ranges. (10)
ALSO READ: Foods to Lower Your Cholesterol Levels
Strawberries for Improved Dental Health
When it comes to dental health, strawberries have been highlighted in both a positive and negative light.
Given their high vitamin C and antioxidant content, strawberries can help reduce inflammation and strengthen the immune system, two mechanisms that can inhibit the growth of harmful oral bacteria that may otherwise lead to periodontal disease.
However, it is known that strawberries are an acidic food that can gradually damage the tooth structure. There is some concern that if the malic acid found in strawberries is left sitting on the teeth, enamel breakdown may occur.
While it is not recommended to use strawberries as a tooth whitening agent because of this fact, it doesn’t stand to reason that strawberries are at all harmful to teeth in any other way.
Potential Side-Effects of Strawberries
When it comes to side effects, there can be positive and negative effects to anything.
Positively speaking, strawberries support a healthy immune system, and their nutrient density allows them to promote the overall health of the human body.
At an individual level, it is important to consider how you personally respond to eating strawberries and whether or not you experience any harmful side effects.
- Strawberries contain naturally occurring sugar that is much less harmful than regular sugar. But for anyone who struggles with portion sizes or is sensitive to sugar intake in general, this may be something to be mindful of when consuming strawberries.
- The high fiber content of strawberries can also be problematic for individuals who are sensitive to fiber. Again, this is on an individual level. Gauging how much fiber one’s body can tolerate is something to consider and plan out so that strawberries can safely be a part of the diet.
- Another side effect to consider is that of pesticide exposure. According to the Environmental Working Group, strawberries are among the twelve fruits and vegetables that rank high in pesticide residue (11) and should be purchased organically grown, when feasible, in order to decrease pesticide exposure.
In a nutshell, strawberries are not only pretty to look at with their bright-red color and unique heart shape, but they are also loaded with health benefits. Whether sprinkled on top of yogurt, dipped into dark chocolate, or eaten on their own, strawberries are a sweet, guilt-free treat that everyone can smile about.
But for any nutritious food to significantly improve your health, you must consume it in recommended amounts and as part of an overall wholesome diet.