The sensational season of strawberries

In case you haven’t noticed, this time of year, strawberries have taken center stage.  Even though available year round the absolute best time to enjoy strawberries is summer.  Summer is the season for strawberries.  Visit any grocery store or farmer’s market and they will be brimming with this tempting red delicacy that is at its height in taste and appearance during the year. There is nothing quite like the sight of a carton of freshly picked strawberries to turn even the pickiest eater into a fan. 

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Strawberries are a summertime favorite not only for its juicy sweet flavor and versatility in use, but we can’t forget the tremendous nutritional profile it packs as a berry.  Let’s count the wide range of ways strawberries promote health and why you should add more of them to your diet:

1.     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 84 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.

2.     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. 

3.      Fight 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.

4.      Improves our 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.

5.     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.  

6.     Promotes healthy digestion

Adequate daily fiber is necessary for healthy digestion and one cup of strawberries will get you started by providing 3 grams.  When fiber is lacking it can result in constipation and diverticulitis – an inflammation of the intestines that affects about 50% 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.

7.     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.

8.     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.  

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:  http://www.endlesssimmer.com/2011/05/31/100-ways-to-use-strawberries/