Strawberries have long been the most popular fruit and now strawberry nutrition is becoming just as famous. With over 600 varieties, this fruity, heart-shaped valentine does more than just promote love. It promotes health!
Because of its high ORAC value and nutritional density, I use strawberries as one of my ingredients in my ORAC Salad and ORAC Shake. Here’s a brief overview of their health benefits and why it’s important to include strawberries in your diet:
Acts as an anti-inflammatory
Provides cancer protection
Protects against macular degeneration
Protects against rheumatoid arthritis
That’s a good list of benefits all designed to keep you young and healthy as you age.
Strawberry Nutrition and Health Benefits
To get the all the benefits of strawberry nutrition you will need to use either fresh or frozen berries. Processed foods that contain strawberries are missing the anthocyanins. These molecules are a key factor in providing the antioxidants needed to protect your cells from free radical damage. Anthocyanins have a unique chemical structure that is significantly altered during processing so many of the following health benefits will be missing:
Anti-Inflammatory – There are two main categories of phenols in strawberries. They are anthocyanins and ellagitannins. The anthocyanins provide more than just the deep red color of the fruit. They provide potent antioxidants to help protect cellular structures from free radical damage. Additionally, these phenols have the ability to lessen the activity of an enzyme called cyclo-oxygenase (COX) which contributes to inflammation.
Non-steriodal, anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin or ibuprofen block pain by blocking this specific enzyme which is a contributing factor for unwanted inflammation in rheumatoid and osteoarthritis, asthma, atherosclerosis and cancer. Typically non-steriodal, anti-inflammatory drugs are hard on the digestive system and can cause intestinal bleeding. Strawberries can provide the same benefit but do not cause intestinal bleeding.
Cancer Protection – The ellagitannin phenol content of strawberries has been associated with decreased rates of cancer death. In a study involving over 1,000 elderly adults, those who ate the most strawberries were three times less likely to develop cancer when compared to those who ate few to no strawberries.
A published study in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry analyzed eight different strawberry cultivars (Earliglow, Annapolis, Evangeline, Allstar, Sable, Sparkle, Jewel, and Mesabi). Although they varied in their antioxidant capacities, all were able to significantly inhibit the proliferation of human liver cancer cells.
Macular Degeneration – A study of 110,000 men and women, published in the Archives of Ophthalmology, indicates that eating 3 or more servings of fruit per day may lower the risk of macular degeneration by 36% when compared to those who consumed less than 1.5 servings of fruit per day. It might be time to switch from carrots to strawberries.
Rheumatoid Arthritis – The Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases contained a large study of more than 20,000 people. This study focused on who would develop inflammatory polyarthritis versus those who would remain arthritis free. The people who consumed the lowest amounts of vitamin C-rich foods were three times greater in their development of arthritis when compared to those who consumed the highest amounts of vitamin C-rich foods. Since strawberries are an excellent source of vitamin C it would be a natural way to obtain your vitamin C and help prevent arthritis.
Conclusion for Strawberry Nutrition
As you can see strawberry nutrition has tremendous health benefits. Strawberries are an excellent source of vitamin C and manganese. They’re a good source for potassium, folate, riboflavin, vitamin B5, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B6, vitamin K, magnesium, copper, and iodine. They are high in fiber and low if saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium. And they provide protective antioxidants to help prevent degenerative diseases.
The only negative to strawberries is that they are a source of oxalates and goitrogens. Oxalates should not be eaten in high concentration as they can crystallize to cause kidney and gallbladder problems. Goitrogens are naturally-occurring substances that can interfere with the function of the thyroid gland. However, with a high ORAC value, a small amount can be consumed on a daily basis to provide you with the antioxidants needed to protect you from free radical damage.