Strawberries are one of the most loved types of fruit for their sweet taste and versatility in recipes, but they also have an impressive amount of health benefits which may surprise you. In fact, I often tell people that strawberries are my No. 1 favorite farmers market food thanks to everything strawberry nutrition has to offer.
Most of the health benefits associated with strawberry nutrition are due to the presence of anti-inflammatory antioxidants. Strawberries contain anti-aging flavonoid antioxidants called anthocyanin and catechin which have been associated with lowering the risk for chronic diseases including cancer and cardiovascular disease. (1)
Studies also link strawberry consumption with eye health, neurological health, protection against skin damage, lower levels of inflammation, and even decreased arthritis pain, due to their ability to fight free radical damage.
Strawberry Nutrition Facts
One cup of fresh strawberries contains: (2)
- Just 49 calories
- 0 grams of fat
- 7 grams of sugar
- 3 grams of fiber
- 1 gram of protein
- 4 mg Vitamin C (149%)
- 2 IU Vitamin A (89%)
- .6 mg Manganese (29%)
- 36 mcg Folate (9%)
- 233 mg Potassium (7%)
- 8 mg Magnesium (5%)
- 3 mcg Vitamin K (4%)
Strawberry Nutrition Benefits
1. Rich in Antioxidants
According to studies done on the topic of strawberry nutrition, strawberries are a high source of various antioxidants including uteolin, gallic acid, flavonols, quercetrin, and many others too. (3) Strawberries contain two of the principle micronutrients (vitamins) which act as antioxidants in the body, vitamin A (in the form of beta carotene which is a precursor to vitamin A) and vitamin C (in the form of ascorbic acid).
These are one of the body’s first lines of defense, reducing free radical damage that leads to inflammation and chronic disease development. Antioxidants “donate” electrons to unstable free radicals which are missing electrons. This means that free radicals do not go looking to take electrons from nearby healthy cells, which will then be destroyed.
Antioxidants slow the occurrence of oxidative stress from taking place, which is responsible for the aging process and formation of most diseases including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and neurological disorders. Although free radicals are present inside of everybody and are a naturally occurring phenomenon, eating foods like strawberries which contain antioxidants helps to counteract their damaging effects, to reduce inflammation, and to slow the aging process.
Research has shown that another strawberry nutrition benefit is the ability to fight against cancer. Individual compounds in strawberries have demonstrated anticancer activity in several different experimental systems. Research has shown that strawberry benefits include the ability to block initiation of cancer cell formation (called carcinogenesis) and suppressing progression and proliferation of cancerous tumors. (4)
In controlled studies, results showed that when participants were given strawberry extract containing anthocyanin antioxidants, human liver cancer cells were significantly inhibited compared to the group that did not receive the extract. (5) Berry consumption is also associated with a lower risk for breast, colon, prostate, and skin cancer too.
3. Defends Against Heart Disease
Strawberry antioxidants help lower the risk of cardiovascular disease by inhibiting “bad” LDL-cholesterol oxidation, limiting plaque build-up in arteries, improved blood vessel function and blood pressure, and decreasing the tendency for dangerous blood clots forming inside blood vessels (called thrombosis). Furthermore, strawberry extracts have been shown to decrease the inflammatory response within the body, which is one of the major causes of heart disease. (6)
Strawberry antioxidants fight the oxidation process too, which is crucial because oxidative damage has been linked to an increased risk of experiencing a heart attack, stroke, or other forms of coronary heart disease. (7)
In studies involving strawberry nutrition, researchers have also found that for people following a diet intended at preventing or reversing heart disease, adding strawberries and other fruit has an additional benefit of making the diet more appealing, palatable, and sustainable long-term.
4. Protect Skin From Damage
Internal and external influences over time alter the condition and appearance of skin as we age. As a consequence of a poor diet, sun exposure, and environmental toxins, the skin undergoes photo-aging, inflammation, and may show signs of immune dysfunction, acne, and other skin disorders.
Luckily, nutrition researchers are developing new insights into the relationship between nutrient-rich food intake and skin health. Studies show that certain plant foods prove to be very beneficial for optimal skin conditions, including foods high in antioxidants like strawberries are. (8)
One of the best foods for skin health includes strawberries and other berries. Berries contain antioxidants like vitamin A and vitamin C which are associated with improving skin properties including hydration, sebum production, lower levels of wrinkles and discoloration, a reduced risk for skin cancer, and improved elasticity. (9)
High levels of vitamin C, one of the biggest benefits of strawberry nutrition, has additional benefits related to promoting collagen synthesis, photo-protection from ultraviolet A and B, lightening hyper-pigmentation, and improving a variety of inflammatory rashes that can appear on the skin too. (10)
5. Benefits Brain Health & Prevents Neurodegenerative Diseases
Yet another benefit of strawberry nutrition is that studies indicate that diets rich in strawberries and other berries may have the potential to protect against aging in the brain. Berries are high in flavonoids, especially anthocyanidins, which are known to improve cognition in experimental studies.
When researchers evaluated whether long-term intakes of berries and flavonoids were associated with slower rates of cognitive decline in older adults, the results showed a positive correlation between higher berry consumption and a slowed rate of oxidation damage in the brain. (11)
For this reason, health professionals recommend that the general population include berries in their diet as often as possible for their ability to defend against oxidative stress and inflammation in the brain, loss of memory, and diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia.
6. Aids in Detoxification
Many people in developed nations consume a diet that is filled with many convenience and packaged foods, which unfortunately are often loaded with multiple forms of sugar, refined fats, artificial ingredients, and toxins which are hard on the digestive system.
Strawberry nutrition detoxifies the body by helping to restore the health of the digestive tract, promoting digestive regularity, and providing anti-inflammatory antioxidants.
Strawberries provide antioxidants vitamin A and vitamin C which are a necessary part of any ongoing detoxification efforts by your body, in addition to dietary fiber. Vital antioxidants are especially needed during the body’s detox process in order to neutralize and eliminate toxins which induce excessive free radical damage, inflammation, and digestive disorders.
And dietary fiber from strawberries can help to keep the digestive system in good health by preventing constipation, balancing the pH level of the gut, and reducing inflammation in the gut which can result in leaky gut syndrome and other digestive conditions. Each one-cup serving of fresh strawberries provides 3 grams of dietary fiber, which is about 10% of your daily needs.
7. High in Manganese
One cup of strawberries provides an impressive 29% of your daily manganese. Manganese is needed for proper nervous system and brain health and helps to prevent neurological disorders like Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy according to studies. (12) It is also a mineral needed in the formation of bones, connective tissues, in order to make blood-clotting possible, and to produce enough reproductive sex hormones.
8. Supports Healthy Pregnancy
Strawberries are a good source of folate, supplying about 9% of your daily needs with every one cup of fresh berries. Folate is a type of B vitamin that helps tissues grow, cells to properly function, and is crucial for a healthy pregnancy. Consuming or taking the right amount of folate before and during pregnancy helps prevent certain birth defects, including spina bifida. Folate also helps prevent anemia. (13)
History of Strawberries
Strawberries have a long history that goes back at least 2,200 years. Strawberries first grew in parts of France and Italy as long ago as 234 B.C. By the 1500’s, people in Europe were believed to already be aware of the many strawberry nutrition health benefits there are.
During this time, Europeans used strawberries for their medicinal benefits and growing them in large quantities due to demand. They were popular in the Mediterranean region, but soon became a staple crop when they started being consumed in the Americas.
In the U.S, strawberries were first discovered in parts of Virginia by early European settlers when their ships landed there in around the year 1588. Some reports show that strawberries were planted by Native Americans and are native to the Americas, while other sources believe that explorers brought them to North America.
Records also show that early settlers in Massachusetts grew and ate strawberries as early as 1643. Starting the mid-1800’s, strawberries were widely grown in many parts of the U.S.
Today, strawberries are most grown in California, where they have been harvested since the early 1900’s. Over 25,000 acres of strawberries are planted each year in California! California produces over 80% of the strawberries grown in the United States, or about one billion pounds of strawberries a year!
With more research coming out every year about the benefits of strawberry nutrition and the importance of including berries in a healthy diet, strawberries have continued to grow in popularity as demand for them has continuously risen over the past century.
Strawberries get their name from the stacks of straw that were piled around the plants to protect them from rodents and pests. Technically, the strawberry is an aggregate fruit and not truly a berry, meaning that the fleshy part of the fruit is derived not from the plant’s ovaries but holds the ovaries. Each apparent “seed” that can be seen on the outside of the fruit is actually one of the ovaries of the flower and has a strawberry seed inside of it.
Harvesting & Types of Strawberries
Strawberries have a short growing season, only about 1-2 months during the summer months, with most markets selling them from about June-August. According to the Environmental Working Group, which tests different fruits and vegetables for pesticide and toxin contamination, strawberries are one of the most chemically sprayed foods there is.
If you want to get the most strawberry nutrition benefits and to avoid chemical exposure, it’s important to buy organic strawberries. When tested, strawberries contained a number of different pesticide residues and showed high concentrations of pesticides relative to other produce items, therefore they are on the EWG’s “Dirty Dozen List” which is the list of produce you should always try to buy organically grown. (14)
There are actually many types of strawberries harvested today. Researchers recently tested 6 of the most popular strawberry types to test for differences in the level of flavonoid and anthocyanin antioxidants; strawberry varieties that were tested including Earliglow, Annapolis, Evangeline, Allstar, Sable, Sparkle, Jewel, and Mesabi.
They found that strawberry antioxidant levels differed about 6% between the highest containing varieties and lowest. Researchers did not consider this to be a significant difference, concluding that all varieties offer high levels of protective properties and that consumers do not necessarily need to purchase one type of strawberry over the others. (15)
How to Buy Strawberries
When purchasing strawberries, look at the color and condition of the skin, but also make sure to smell them. For the best strawberries, you want to smell a fragrant, sweet which shows that the berries have become ripe enough.
Look for a bright to deep red color, and try avoiding any berries that appear very dark and mushy, indicating they are going to soil pretty quickly. A strawberry picked under-ripe will have a white or even slightly green color at the top, so try avoiding these which will lack as much flavor or else wait several days for them to ripen more before eating them.
Strawberries come in different sizes depending on the type and how they are grown; some are much smaller than others, but all types have similar health benefits. They are perishable and tend to go bad rather quickly, so try using them within a few days of purchasing them. Keep strawberries in the refrigerator unwashed to pro-long their freshness; washing them ahead of time can lead to mold growth.
Strawberries are extremely versatile and can be used in breakfast smoothies, on salads, in desserts, eaten alone as a snack, or many more ways too. Although strawberries and strawberry artificial flavoring is commonly added to packaged foods, I always recommend eating fresh strawberries. Try making one of the strawberry recipes below to take advantage of the many strawberry nutrition health benefits:
Total Time: 2 minutes
- ½ C strawberries
- 1 C sliced papaya
- 1 C coconut kefir
- 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
- ½ C water and ice
- Add all ingredients to blender and blend on high.
Total Time: 20 minutes
- 1/2 cup coconut flour
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 5 eggs
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
- 1/4 cup coconut flakes, unsweetened
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 12 whole strawberries
- 2 cups whipped coconut cream
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
- Place 12 cupcake liners in a muffin pan.
- Sift dry ingredients together into a bowl. Add the coconut separately.
- Separate the yolk from the whites of 2 of the eggs. Set the egg whites aside.
- Combine 3 whole eggs, two egg yolks, coconut oil, honey, vanilla and lemon juice with a hand mixer. Be careful that you don’t over mix.
- Turn the mixer to low and add the dry mixture and wet mixture in alternate batches until the batter has no lumps.
- In a small bowl beat the egg whites until thick, soft peaks form. (Using a hand mixer works best.) Fold into the batter very gently.
- Pour or spoon batter evenly into the 12 cupcake liners.
- Bake for about 20 minutes or until done. Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes, then carefully remove cupcakes from the pan. Cool completely.
- When the cupcakes are cool, cut a small circle off the top and scoop out a little of the cupcake and put one whole strawberry in the cupcake.
- Frost the cupcakes with the whipped coconut cream.
Total Time: 3 hours, 10 minutes
- 1 cup honey
- 1/2 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
- 16oz kefir
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 ripe banana, frozen
- 4 cups frozen strawberries
- Put all ingredients in blender and blend.
- Pour mixture into a medium size glass baking dish, cover and put in freezer for at least 3 hours.
- Take out about 10 minutes before you plan to serve it and blend again.
Strawberry Side Effects & Interactions
Although strawberries are extremely healthy for the average person, they may pose a risk for anyone who has allergies to different types of histamine-containing fruits or berries in general. A food allergy is a type of autoimmune system response that can result in itching around the mouth, skin inflammation, and digestive problems including diarrhea and vomiting. Strawberries contain histamines, organic compounds in the body that help regulate the immune response. When the body is unable to digest or process the food, pollen or substance, the histamines can trigger the alarm that causes the body to react to the “invader.” Mild to strong symptoms can occur such as itching, wheezing and hives in certain people are prone to food allergies, so if you experience any issues eating strawberries, you may want to have an allergy test conducted at a doctor’s office.
The second biggest threat to eating strawberries has to do with pesticide and chemical exposure, so again remember to only buy organic strawberries to avoid any toxic elements.
All berries in general are normally heavily sprayed with chemicals during harvesting because they are prone to being eaten by bugs and rodents, since they grow low to the ground and have soft, sweet skin.
According to the Food and Drug Administration, in 2014, strawberries ranked No. 2 for their pesticide content. Therefore to reduce your risk to chemical exposure and to get the most strawberry nutrition benefits, always look for organic berries- whether they are fresh or frozen.
What is your favorite strawberry nutrition benefit?
READ NEXT: Top 10 High Antioxidant Foods
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