Red, juicy, delicious strawberries are one of the healthiest fruits to include in your diet. Strawberries are chockfull of antioxidants and other essential nutrients that can flavorfully help you reduce your risk of cancer, heart disease, inflammatory diseases, and birth defects as well as mouthwateringly manage your weight. Here are the bountiful health benefits of strawberries.
Strawberries help fight cancer
Dozens of studies over the past 20 years have associated diets high in fruit and vegetables with reduced risk of cancer. Recently, researchers have been testing individual foods for their cancer-fighting ability.
Studies examining the freeze-dried strawberries and strawberry extracts indicate that strawberries can fight breast, cervical and esophageal cancers. The compounds – such as antioxidants and other phytonutrients – found in strawberries (and other fruit and vegetables) are credited with health-protecting effects. Strawberries are a rich source of these antioxidants (vitamin C in particularly), flavonoids, and ellagic acid.
According to the California Strawberry Commission, a serving of strawberries (about 8 strawberries) provides 160 percent of the recommended daily intake for vitamin C. Further, vitamin C has been associated with reduced rates of stomach, cervical, breast and non-hormone-dependent cancers.
The flavonoids, such as anthocyanins, quercetin and kaempferol, exhibit antioxidant properties that have been proven beneficial in suppressing colon cancer cells, inhibiting prostate and breast cancer cancer cells, and inhibiting chemically-induced cancers of the lung, tongue, mouth, mammary and colon.
The antioxidant power of strawberries has been measured and scored by researchers of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) using the ORAC method. Strawberries score in the fruit group with the highest antioxidant values, or highest ORAC values. Strawberries are certifiably a super food!
In addition, strawberries contain folate, a B vitamin that has been associated with reduced risk of several cancers as well as a decreased risk for birth defects, such as spina bifida.
Strawberries for heart health
A new analysis of data from the Harvard Women’s Health Study offers another potential link between strawberries and heart health. Researchers found that women with high strawberry consumption were more likely to also lead a healthy lifestyle.
The heart-health benefits of strawberries are attributed to their high levels of key nutrients. Vitamin C is an important antioxidant that has been correlated with lower death rates from cardiovascular disease, lower prevalence of cardiovascular disease and reduced risk of angina. Further, supplementation with vitamin C has been shown to reduce serum levels of C-reactive protein (a substance in the body that indicates the presence of injury or inflammation).
Folate is another nutrient in promoting heart-health – lower folate concentrations have been associated with increased coronary disease risk and increased fatal coronary events. In addition to folate, strawberries are high in fiber and potassium, both associated with heart health benefits, such as lower cholesterol and blood pressure, respectively.
Maybe there is something truly fitting about heart-healthy strawberries being the preferred fruit for Valentine’s Day and other romantic encounters!
The direction of current research suggests that eating just eight strawberries a day can improve heart health, lower blood pressure, reduce inflammation, reduce the risk of cancers and even improve cognitive function. There is no reason not to eat strawberries as part of a healthy lifestyle. Strawberries are available nearly year round (though best in the summer), ripe for you to take advantage of the health benefits of this luscious, juicy fruit.
Visit the California Strawberry Commission for abstracts and full text versions of the studies on strawberries as well as additional nutritional information and delectable recipes.
And for more recipes to sink your teeth into, try these Succulent Strawberry Recipes.