You may be like many of us who struggle to find the joy in winter in Australia but one of the benefits of the cooler months has to be the delicious strawberries which have come into season in Queensland. This fruit packs a punch when it comes to health benefits for your body and including this fruit in your diet will help keep your immune system strong over winter not to mention the great taste of strawberries which can be enjoyed fresh from the punnet or added as part of many different types of meals and snacks.
There are more than 600 different types of strawberries variety or Fragaria. A fun fact to share at parties is because the seeds of a strawberry are on the skin of the fruit they are not technically a fruit but more suited to be classified in the rose family. The use and enjoyment of strawberries is not new has been enjoyed as part of the diet since the 14th century in Roman times. The beautiful colour of the strawberry is due to the significant amount of phytonutrients and flavonoids packed into the strawberry and specifically an antioxidant called anthocyanidin.
One cup (around 152g) will give you 149% of your recommended daily intake of vitamin C as well as phytosterols which together help improve your immune function and give your body a dose of ‘super’ anti-inflammatory properties which can reduce your risk of lifestyle diseases and early aging. Strawberries give 12g of dietary fibre in a cup (it is recommended you get between 25-30g a day). Fibre helps you feel fuller for longer making it easier to maintain a healthy weight as well as keeps for guts healthy by preventing constipation. A cup of strawberries only has 12g of carbohydrates in total and only 7g of sugar! Strawberries are low glycaemic index which means this fruit will not spike your blood sugar levels really high which can happen in foods with lots of added sugar like lollies and sweets, this is especially useful for anyone with diabetes.
Strawberries are a good sources of potassium, which has many benefits for your body which include helping to keep your blood pressure within a normal range, improve muscle contractions and central nervous system function as well as promote your metabolism to work better. Strawberries are also a good source of manganese helping to keep your bones strong and folate which helps to make your DNA. With all these fantastic benefits strawberries are low in calories too with a cup only giving 49 calories or 205kJ, helping prevent any unwanted weight gain over the cooler months.
Studies support including this awesome little fruit in your diet. One study of 93,600 women found those which ate a serving of strawberries at least 3 times a week had a 32% reduced risk of having a heart attack. This was suggested to be due to the anthocyanidin content. Research also suggests this mighty berry may also help keep your mind healthy and possibly treat cognitive impairments such as dementia as well as help prevent diabetes. This is suggested to be because of the anti-inflammatory properties of the antioxidants in the strawberries which help prevent the chronic diseases and early aging effects from the toxins and reactions your body is exposed to.
You may wish to enjoy strawberries fresh from the punnet but other Ideas on ways to include and enjoy strawberries are:
1. Try adding a cup of strawberries to porridge in the morning to add some natural sweetness to the oats.
2. For a snack adding a few strawberries to some low fat yogurt with a couple of nuts for extra crunch.
3. Make a fruit salad and include strawberries as part of the salad, you may like to add a dollop of low fat yogurt or cream for taste.
4. Make a banana and strawberry smoothie using low fat milk and yogurt.
5. For those who like to bake try making some ricotta and strawberry muffins
6. Try making your own strawberry ice cream.
7. Fresh strawberries make delicious jam.
8. Increase the variety of your salads by trying a salmon, fennel, rocket and strawberry salad or walnuts, goat’s cheese and strawberry salad.
9. Toast a wholemeal crumpet and spread some low fat cream cheese or ricotta topped with some strawberries.
Take home message: The cooler months may make you feel like hibernating but with strawberries in season this is one bonus of the cooler months not only for your taste buds but your overall health and wellbeing.
1. Cassidy A1, Mukamal KJ, Liu L, Franz M, Eliassen AH, Rimm EB.. 2013. High anthocyanin intake is associated with a reduced risk of myocardial infarction in young and middle-aged women.. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23319811. [Accessed 9 June 2017].
2. Cherniack EP1.. 2012. A berry thought-provoking idea: the potential role of plant polyphenols in the treatment of age-related cognitive disorders.. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/. [Accessed 9 June 2017].
3. Paquette M1, Medina Larqué AS1, Weisnagel SJ2, Desjardins Y1, Marois J1, Pilon G1, Dudonné S1, Marette A1, Jacques H1.. 2017. Strawberry and cranberry polyphenols improve insulin sensitivity in insulin-resistant, non-diabetic adults: a parallel, double-blind, controlled and randomised clinical trial.. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28290272. [Accessed 9 June 2017].
4. Self Nutrition Data. 2014. Strawberries, raw Nutrition Facts & Calories. [ONLINE] Available at: http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/fruits-and-fruit-juices/2064/2. [Accessed 9 June 2017].