In warm weather, there is nothing better than spending time outside while enjoying a delicious, refreshing snack like fruit. Strawberries are an excellent choice for both flavor and nutrition, especially since these little red fruits are in their peak season from now through June in many parts of the United States. Therefore, it’s an ideal time to celebrate National Pick Strawberries Day, which falls on May 20.
Spend an afternoon picking a quart or two of strawberries at a local organic farm, then bring your bounty home to enjoy. Eat your fresh strawberries as is for a great midday treat, add them to your oatmeal, slice them up on a salad, or chop them up for a sweeter salsa. That will make your taste buds happy, and it’s also great for other parts of your body because strawberries are full of vitamins, nutrients, and antioxidants.
Check out six of the ways strawberries can add to your health.
Strawberries Help Protect the Heart
Rich in flavonoids such as anthocyanin, catechin, and quercetin, strawberries have been shown to lower heart attack risk and reduce the chance of developing cardiovascular disease. In fact, a 2013 study at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, Massachusetts found that eating three servings or more of strawberries weekly was associated with a 32 percent drop in heart attack risk among women.1 Cassidy, Aedin; et al. “High Anthocyanin Intake is Associated With a Reduced Risk of Myocardial Infarction in Young and Middle-Aged Women.” Circulation. 14 January 2013. Accessed 9 May 2018. http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/127/2/188.
Strawberries Are Good for the Eyes
Ellagic acid and polyphenols in strawberries work to prevent the damage that can occur in the eyes over time. Therefore, eating strawberries frequently may help you avoid some common progressive conditions such as macular degeneration and deterioration of the optic nerves. In addition, the potassium in strawberries is important for regulating ocular pressure and preventing a potentially dangerous elevation in pressure related to glaucoma.
Strawberries Provide Cancer Protection
Free radical-fighting antioxidants in strawberries help to decrease systemic inflammation and impede the growth and spread of malignant cells. A 2016 study at the University of Urbino in Italy found that strawberry extract had a prohibitive effect on aggressive forms of breast cancer.2 Amatori, Stefano; et al. “Polyphenol-rich strawberry extract (PRSE) shows in vitro and in vivo biological activity against invasive breast cancer cells.” Nature. 8 August 2016. Accessed 9 May 2018. http://www.nature.com/articles/srep30917.
Strawberries Benefit the Brain
A good source of vitamin C, iodine, and potassium, strawberries contribute to the well being of the brain and central nervous system. What’s more, a 2012 study at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts showed that eating two or more servings of strawberries a week may lower the risk of Parkinson’s disease by close to 25 percent.
Strawberries Help Prevent Diabetes
The high fiber content of strawberries contributes to the regulation of blood sugar levels, which is essential to keep them from rising too high or falling too low. Not all fruit is healthy for diabetics due to its sugar content, but strawberries are a low glycemic index food, with a score of 41.
Strawberries Strengthen Bones
Maintaining bone health is essential, especially as we age. People stop building new bone mass by the age of 30, and if we don’t work at it, we can begin losing bone density shortly afterward. Eating strawberries, which contain vitamins C and K, manganese, and potassium, can keep bones stronger through the years, adding to their density by helping them retain greater stores of calcium.
When you return home from your fun day of organic strawberry picking, store your batch of fruit in the refrigerator in a container covered with a lid or plastic wrap. Don’t wash them until you’re ready to use them because the strawberries will spoil more quickly. And go ahead and freeze anything you won’t be eating in the next few days. In this case, you should wash and dry the berries, then place them in a tightly sealed freezer bag for up to three months. Strawberries hold up very well if they are properly frozen, and can be used in smoothies, turned into jam, or baked into muffins.
|↑1||Cassidy, Aedin; et al. “High Anthocyanin Intake is Associated With a Reduced Risk of Myocardial Infarction in Young and Middle-Aged Women.” Circulation. 14 January 2013. Accessed 9 May 2018. http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/127/2/188.|
|↑2||Amatori, Stefano; et al. “Polyphenol-rich strawberry extract (PRSE) shows in vitro and in vivo biological activity against invasive breast cancer cells.” Nature. 8 August 2016. Accessed 9 May 2018. http://www.nature.com/articles/srep30917.|