Due to their sweet and refreshing taste, strawberries are one of the most popular summer fruits. They are delicious when eaten on their own, and make a wonderful addition to smoothies, ice cream, fruit salads, and pancake-based meals. Luckily, they are also very good for the human body, providing many health benefits that are highly significant but not very well publicized. Read on to discover twelve ways in which you could benefit from a diet that is rich in strawberries.
1) They are wonderful for cardiovascular health:
The folate, fiber, and antioxidants in strawberries all help to reduce your levels of ‘bad’ cholesterol and your risk of having a stroke or developing heart disease. Another reason that strawberries are great for your heart is that one serving contains 21% of your recommended daily intake of manganese, which scientists have proven helps to reduce levels of cellular inflammation. This, in turn, will lower your risk of developing a whole host of cardiovascular diseases. You can also find B vitamins in strawberries, and some of these help you make your heart muscle stronger, thereby improving its overall functions. Finally, the potassium in strawberries can help to keep your blood pressure levels within healthy limits.
2) They lower your risk of developing diabetes:
Some recent studies have shown that strawberries have significant blood sugar benefits. Specifically, it has been discovered that regularly eating plenty of strawberries each week is linked to a lower risk of developing type two diabetes. One especially interesting study involved participants ingesting up to six teaspoons of table sugar (an activity that would normally be linked with a substantial spike in blood sugar levels). The participants who consumed a cup of strawberries at the same time as the sugar were found to have a notably smaller spike in blood sugar levels. It is currently thought that the polyphenols in strawberries are responsible for this interesting and important health benefit, as they inhibit the activity of an enzyme that breaks down sugars and releases simple sugars into the bloodstream.
3) They have powerful anti-inflammatory benefits:
Strawberries contain chemical compounds called phenols, and these inhibit the actions of an enzyme called cyclooxygenase (or COX). This is exactly what anti-inflammatory painkillers such as ibuprofen and aspirin do, so by inhibiting this enzyme strawberries can help to reduce your inflammation levels. In addition, strawberries come with none of the risky and unpleasant side effects of anti-inflammatory drugs, such as stomach complaints and raised blood pressure. All of these facts make strawberries an ideal snack for people who suffer from inflammatory diseases such as arthritis. Indeed, some studies strongly suggest that arthritis patients find that eating strawberries helps to reduce the severity of their symptoms.
4) They may help you to grow old gracefully:
The vitamin C in strawberries helps your skin to become more resilient and elastic because vitamin C aids your body in producing collagen. As you age, you have less collagen at your disposal, and so a higher intake of vitamin C might help to keep you looking younger and smoother for longer. In addition, scientists in Korea have found that the ellagic acid in strawberries helps to prevent the destruction of collagen, which in turn helps to prevent the development of fine lines and wrinkles.
5) They help to lower your risk of developing cancer:
Strawberries contain a powerful combination of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. They are also a source of vitamin C, important flavonoids (such as quercetin and kaempferol), and folate (as mentioned above). This means that they can be useful in helping your body to stop the onset of cancer. In addition, they contain a phytonutrient called ellagic acid, and research on this acid has revealed that it helps to stop the growth of cancerous tumors of the skin, prostate, pancreas, breast, and colon.
6) They help to keep your eyes healthy:
A study released by the Archives of Ophthalmology shows that if you consume three or more servings of fruit per day, you are over a third less likely to develop macular degeneration (which is the most common cause of sight loss in older people). There is also a link between eating a lot of fruit and being less likely to develop cataracts. These benefits for visual health may be in part due to the vitamin C in fruits, which strengthens the cornea and retina of your eyes. This makes strawberries a great choice for those who want to maintain healthy eyes, given the particularly large amount of vitamin C they contain. The antioxidants in strawberries also play a role here, as they help to neutralize free radicals that are capable of degenerating and drying our eyes.
7) They can help you lose weight:
You can get more than 13% of your recommended daily intake of dietary fiber from one cup of strawberries, and this cup will contain less than 44 calories. The fiber will help you to feel fuller for longer, encouraging you to stay away from unhealthy snacks like candy and chips.
8. They reduce the risk of birth defects:
Strawberries are an excellent source of folate, and numerous studies have shown that folic acid definitely helps to reduce the risk of birth defects in your unborn baby.
9) They are good for your bones:
The manganese in strawberries helps your body to build bones and to keep your bones strong. Strawberries are also an excellent source of magnesium, vitamin K, and potassium, and these are all important for bone health as well.
10) They boost brain function:
As you age, your memory and motor control tend to get steadily worse. However, vitamin C and phytochemicals in strawberries help to neutralize the effect of the dangerous free radicals that can negatively impact the brain and nervous system. Further, strawberries contain plenty of iodine, and this can boost the brain and nervous system function as well. Studies conducted on elderly animals have connected strawberry consumption with improving cognitive function and better coordination.
11) They help to boost your immune system:
Vitamin C is great for your immune system, and strawberries contain a staggering 136% of your recommended daily intake of vitamin C. This means that eating plenty of strawberries will help to make you more resistant to annoying infections such as the cold and the flu.
12) They can help with some bowel diseases:
Some studies on animals have shown that daily consumption of strawberry extract results in fewer symptoms of inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. It is speculated that this benefit comes from the salicylic acid in strawberries, which seems to be strongly linked to reduced inflammation in the digestive tract.
As is obvious from the above health benefits, strawberries an excellent choice if you want to increase the number of fruits and vegetables in your diet. When you are buying strawberries, try to select ones that are firm, dry, and entirely ripe. They should also have bright green, fresh-looking leaves.