Eat Well to Be Well: Savor the sweet sensation of spring strawberries – Osage County Online | Osage County News

Eat Well to Be Well: Savor the sweet sensation of spring strawberries

Spring strawberries – what’s not to love? There’s more to this ruby-red fruit than meets the eye – they’re the first fruit to ripen in the spring, they are a member of the rose family, and one cup of strawberries is packed with more vitamin C than an orange – 55 milligrams compared to 85 milligrams.

If there’s one berry most people have a fondness for, it’s strawberries. Up to 94 percent of American households consume strawberries making them a top notch favorite fruit. May, National Strawberry Month, is dedicated to promoting and celebrating this favorite berry. Here are some interesting facts about strawberries you may not have known:

  • Strawberries are grown in every state in the United States.
  • California is the state that produces the most strawberries – an amazing 1 billion pounds of strawberries each year.
  • If all strawberries produced in California in one year were laid berry to berry, they would go around the world 15 times.
  • There is an average number of 200 seeds in a strawberry.

Even though available year round, strawberries full flavor shines best beginning in May through late summer, the prime seasons for strawberries. Now is when farmers markets and grocery store produce aisles are loaded with this red delicacy at its peak of taste and appearance. A carton of freshly picked strawberries is a sight to behold, turning even the pickiest eater into a fan.

Yes, strawberries are a spring and summertime favorite not only for its juicy sweet flavor and versatility, but don’t forget the tremendous nutritional profile it packs as a berry.  Let’s take a look at strawberries’ power for promoting your health and why you should add more of them to your diet:

Excellent source of vitamin C

Just about all other mammals – except for humans – can make vitamin C naturally.  Vitamin C boosts our immunity, works as an antioxidant, promotes iron absorption, and is necessary for collagen synthesis.  One cup of raw strawberries provides 85 milligrams of vitamin C out of the recommended 75 milligrams a day for women and 90 milligrams a day for men.  Load up on strawberries today for a healthy dose of this water-soluble vitamin.

Promotes eye health

The antioxidants strawberries are brimming with may help prevent cataracts – a clouding of the lens of the eye. Thanks to vitamin C richly found in strawberries, it protects our eyes from damaging free-radicals from the sun’s harsh UV rays that can damage the protein in the lens.  Vitamin C also will strengthen the cornea and retina in our eyes.

Fights cancer

A phytochemical called ellagic acid found in strawberries has been shown to have anti-cancer properties like suppressing cancer cell growth. A couple of antioxidants, lutein and zeathancins, found in this red berry have jobs as scavengers helping to neutralize free-radicals that could harm our cells.

Enhances appearance of your skin

Because strawberries are rich in vitamin C, one very important function of this vitamin is for the production of collagen, helping to improve skin’s elasticity and resilience. As we age, we lose collagen, so eating foods rich in vitamin C makes sense – and strawberries are the perfect food for that. Ellagic acid also prevents collagen destruction which is a major contributor to the development of wrinkles.

Reduces risk of heart disease

Strawberries are capable of doing their part in the fight against the leading killer of men and women in the United States, heart disease.  Study after study has shown the promising health benefits strawberries contain and why they should be included frequently in our daily food choices.  Strawberries contain flavonoids, fiber, potassium, polyphenols, all of which play their part to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by reducing blood pressure, lowering homocysteine levels, and protecting against damage by low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol.

Promotes healthy digestion

Adequate daily fiber is necessary for healthy digestion and one cup of strawberries will get you started by providing three grams.  When fiber is lacking it can result in constipation and diverticulitis – an inflammation of the intestines that affects about 50 percent of people over the age of 60.  Fiber can also slow down digestion and absorption of sugars into our bloodstream helping people with diabetes to control blood glucose better.

Relieves symptoms of allergies and asthma

The flavonoid quercetin may have an anti-inflammatory effect on alleviating allergy symptoms of a runny nose, watery eyes and hives.  Foods like strawberries rich in this compound along with vitamin C may help those suffering from those symptoms.

Protection against neural tube defects in pregnancy

Folate, a B-vitamin necessary in early pregnancy to help in the development of a baby’s brain and spinal cord, may help prevent the birth defect known as spina bifida.  One cup of strawberries contains 34 micrograms of folate, making it a good source to add in a woman’s diet.

Creative ways to use strawberries

If you get tempted and buy a flat of fresh strawberries and then wonder “How am I going to use them all before they spoil?” here is a link giving you awesome ideas that the whole family will enjoy:

Cheryl Mussatto MS, RD, LD is a registered dietitian with a master’s degree in dietetics and nutrition from the University of Kansas, and a bachelor’s degree in dietetics and institutional management from Kansas State University. She is a clinical dietitian for local clinics, an adjunct professor at an area community college where she teaches basic nutrition, and a freelance health and nutrition writer. She is the author of The Nourished Brain: The Latest Science On Food’s Power For Protecting The Brain From Alzheimers and Dementia and The Prediabetes Action Plan and Cookbook. Visit her website at

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