Strawberry is hybrid species of the ‘genus Fragaria’ grown across the globe. This fruit is cherished for its distinctive aroma, upbeat red color, juicy texture and sweetness. Foods that are preserved like preserves, fruit juice, pies, ice-creams, milkshakes and chocolates are often consumed in large quantities. The fruit was first bred in Brittany, France in 1750s via a cross of Fragaria virginiana from North America and Fragaria chiloensis brought from Chile by Amedee-Francois Frezier in 1714. The wooden strawberry (Fragaria Vesca) is now in commercial production.
Nutritional facts of strawberries-
In ancient Roman literature, reference is found for medicinal use of strawberry. People began using it for its made-up medicinal properties and botanists began naming the different species. Wimbledon is associated with serving strawberries as a summer treat which gives unexpected health benefits. The strawberry plant was used for treating depressive illnesses. If one has raw strawberry of serving size 152g, then calories would be 49, total carbohydrate would be 4%, and dietary fiber would be 12%, vitamin C 149%, calcium 2% and iron 3%. Strawberry serves as an effective antioxidant too. It has polyphenol antioxidant in it.
Some health benefits
Strawberries have anti-inflammatory properties. Regular intake of strawberries for 3 times per week show an improvement from unwanted inflammation. Other benefits that one can derive with strawberries are prevention of certain cancer types like oesophageal cancer and cardiovascular benefits. The phytonutrients work together to provide cardiovascular benefits. There is decreased oxidation of fats (lipid peroxidation) in the cell membranes of cells that line the blood vessels; decreased levels of circulating fats, including total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol; and decreased activity of angiotensin I-converting enzyme (ACE). The enzyme’s over activity increases the risk of high blood pressure. With daily intake of strawberries over 1-3 months of time, there is a substantial change found. Amounts of strawberries in most researches were comparable to 1-2 cups of strawberries per day.
The antioxidants quercetin, kaemferol and anthocyanin help in reducing formation of harmful blood clots associated with strokes. A reduced risk of stroke has been associated with high potassium intakes.
Strawberry also helps in the improvement of inflammatory bowel problems like ulcerative colitis acetylsalicylic acid of aspirin and Crohn’s disease. Strawberries contain very small amount of salicylic acid which is an anti-inflammatory compound that is similar to acetylsalicylic acid of aspirin. The naturally occurring anti-inflammatory substance in strawberries helps in decreasing inflammation of the digestive tract of individuals diagnosed with inflammatory bowel diseases like ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.
Strawberry is beneficial in inflammation-related arthritis which includes rheumatoid arthritis and inflammation-related disease of the eye, including macular degeneration. The unique combination of anti-inflammatory phytonutrients in strawberries is the key factor for its benefits.
Folate in strawberry helps with depression by averting an excess of homocysteine from forming in the body. Homocysteine thwarts blood and other nutrients from reaching the brain. Feel-good hormones like serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine regulate mood, sleep and appetite but with excessive homocysteine, they interfere with the production of the hormones.
Tips and for preparation and cooking of strawberries
Strawberries are perishable and hence they should be washed just before eating or adding in the recipe. Gently wash the strawberries and do not remove the cap. Pat them dry which prevent excess water absorption and degrade strawberries’ texture and flavour. Strawberries should be eaten freshly and not prepared in a cooked recipe as it retains the maximum amount of nutrients and has the maximum taste. Since, nutrients like vitamins, antioxidants and enzymes cannot withstand temperatures 350 degrees F used in baking.
Best ways to eat strawberries– Strawberries are available fresh, frozen, jellies, syrups and jams. Always check the label of frozen and dried strawberries for sugars that are added. One should choose fruit spreads while looking for jellies and jams because they do not have added sweeteners and fillers. Some healthy tips to include strawberry in diet:
- Green Salad- one could add strawberries to one’s green salad.
- Yoghurt – strawberries could be had with yoghurt and blueberries.
- Breakfast shakes- one could also have it one’s breakfast shakes.
So, consume strawberries and be in good health!