Here at Go Folic! we seem to have a love affair with strawberries – and why not? They are yummy and full of folate. They can even contribute to beautiful skin, as per last summer’s post, “Homemade Strawberry Facial Mask.”
Strawberries are also a powerhouse of other health benefits. Out of 1,000 foods surveyed by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, strawberries rank third highest for antioxidents. Following are some of the many health benefits of this much loved fruit.
- Strawberries are good for your immune system.
Strawberries are an excellent source of vitamin C with 1 cup (2 servings) giveing you a full 100% of our daily requirement for Bitamin C, a well known immunity booster. A 2010 UCLA study discovered that the antioxidant power in strawberries becomes “bioavailable” or “ready to work in the blood” after eating the fruit for just a few weeks.
- Strawberries boost fiber.
Fiber is a necessity for healthy digestion, and strawberries contain about 4 g per cup. A lack of fibre may contribute to constipation and diverticulitis—an inflammation of the intestines that affects approximately 50 percent of people over 60. Fibre can also aid in fighting type 2 diabetes.
- Strawberries help to prevent wrinkles.
Vitamin C is vital to the production of collagen, which helps to improve skin’s elasticity and resilience. Since we lose collagen as we age, eating foods rich in vitamin C may result in healthier, younger-looking skin. Strawberries also contain ellagic acid which is especially helpful in preventin g the effects of exposure to the sun’ sskin-damaging UV-B rays.
- Strawberries help to regulate blood pressure.
Strawberries contain a fair amount of potassium (268 mg per cup). This heart healthy nutrient helps to regulate blood pressure and may even help to lower high blood pressure by acting as a buffer against the negative effects of sodium.
- Strawberries help fight cancer.
Antioxidents help to fight cancer by neutralizing the potentially negative effects that free-radicals, unstable chemicals that can disrupt our body’s healthy functioning, such as pollution, radiation, and herbicides (for a great scientific breakdown of what free-radicals are click here). In addition to Vitamin C, stawberries contain the following antioxidants: ellagic acid, lutein and zeathancins.
- Strawberries fight bad cholesterol.
If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you already know that the folate in strawberries helps to reduce homocystein, a chemical that contributes to heart disease, which is one of the leading causes of death among women in the U.S. (see the “Go Red for Women” campaign. The ellagic acid in strawberries, along with flavonoids are powerful heart-health boosters capable of counteracting the effect of low-density lipoprotein, or LDL—bad cholesterol in the blood—which causes plaque to build up in arteries.
- Strawberries support eye health.
Our eyes require vitamin C to protect them from exposure to free-radicals from the sun’s harsh UV rays, which can damage the protein in the lens. The antioxidants in strawberries may help prevent cataracts—the clouding over of the eye lens—which can lead to blindness in older age. Vitamin C also plays an important role in strengthening the eye’s cornea and retina. But Vitamin C is best gotten from natural food sources, as the high doses of vitamin C found in supplements have been found to increase the risk of cataracts in older women.
- Strawberries reduce inflammation.
The antioxidants and phytochemicalsin strawberries may also help to reduce inflammation of the joints, which may cause arthritis and can also lead to heart disease. A Harvard School of Public Health study found that women who eat 16 or more strawberries per week are 14 percent less likely to have elevated levels of C-reactive protein (CRP)—an indication of inflammation in the body.
- Strawberries promote pre-natal health.
As you already know if you’re a regular reader of this column, strawberries also contain folate, a B-vitamin that is necessary in the early stages of pregnancy to for the development of the baby’s brain, skull and spinal cord. Getting enough of this important nutrient in the 3 months prior to getting pregnant helps to prevent certain birth defects, such as spina bifida and cleft palate. Visit the Go Folic! website to learn more.
Strawberries taste great on their own, but if you’re looking for other ways to use this “beautiful fruit,” here are a list of recipes that we’ve published in this blog:
Tomorrow, come back for Foodie Tuesday recipe for Strawberry Shortcake, just in time for planning your 4th of July menu!