The Best Skin, Hair and health benefits of strawberries
|What is Strawberry?|
|What Is The History Of Strawberry?|
|Types Of Strawberries|
|Nutritional Profile Of Strawberries|
|Health Benefits of Strawberry|
|How to select and store?|
|Fun Facts About Strawberries?|
|The Side Effects Of Strawberries|
The strawberry is one of the most popular berry fruits in the world. Scientifically called Fragaria x ananassa, There are more than 10 species of Fragaria that differ in flavour, size and texture yet they all have the same characteristic heart-shaped, red flesh and seeded coat together with small, regal, leafy green caps and stems that adorn their crowns.
The amazing health benefits of strawberry include improved eye care, proper brain function, relief from high blood pressure, arthritis, gout, and various cardiovascular diseases. The polyphenolic and antioxidant content of strawberries makes them beneficial for improving the immune system, preventing various types of cancers, and for reducing the signs of premature aging.
A strawberry (Fragaria) is a sweet, red heart-shaped fruit, which is much loved for its delicious taste. Native to many parts of the world, it belongs to the rose family and Also called the garden strawberry, this fruit belongs to the genus Fragaria.Despite its name, a strawberry is not a berry botanically. It is an aggregate accessory fruit, which means that the fleshy part is not derived from the plant ovaries. Instead, each visible seed covering its outside is borne from one of the ovaries of the flower.Also, the strawberry leaves can be eaten raw, cooked, or even used to make tea. This one is quite popular for its characteristic aroma, bright red color, sweetness, and the juicy texture.
This fruit had its first mention in the ancient Roman literature in reference to its medicinal use. In fact, the word strawberry is derived from the Old English streawberige – because the plant sends out runners that are similar to pieces of straw.
Also called ‘fraise’ in French, ‘erdbeere’ in Greek, ‘fragola’ in Italian, and ‘fresa’ in Spanish, strawberries have been in cultivation for thousands of years. Yet they didn’t find their place in the commercial market until the Renaissance era in Europe. The fruit is native to North America. Some records show that the early settlers in Massachusetts cultivated and ate strawberries as early as 1643. California is the largest producer of strawberries in the US, with over 25,000 acres planted every year. And by the way, these berries come in different varieties as well.
What Are The Types Of Strawberries?
Following are some of the popular types:
- June-bearing strawberries, which are the most common variety. They also produce the largest variety of strawberries.
- Everbearing strawberries, which produce two harvests per year – one in the spring and one in the late summer.
- Day-neutral strawberries, which produce a good yield in the first year they are planted.
|Vitamin A||1 µg||0%|
|Vitamin C||58.8 mg||65%|
|Vitamin D||0 µg||~|
|Vitamin E||0.29 mg||2%|
|Vitamin K||2.2 µg||2%|
|Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)||0.02 mg||2%|
|Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)||0.02 mg||2%|
|Vitamin B3 (Niacin)||0.39 mg||2%|
|Vitamin B5 (Panthothenic acid)||0.13 mg||3%|
|Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)||0.05 mg||4%|
|Vitamin B12||0 µg||~|
One cup of fresh strawberries (152 grams) contains 49 calories and 7 grams of sugar. Strawberries contain no fat, and one cup contains 3 grams of fiber. Other nutrients in strawberries include:
- 1 gram of protein (2% of the daily value)
- 4 milligrams of vitamin C (149% of the daily value)
- 6 milligrams of manganese (29% of the daily value)
- 5 micrograms of folate (9% of the daily value)
- 233 milligrams of potassium (7% of the daily value)
- 8 milligrams of magnesium (5% of the daily value)
- 3 micrograms of vitamin K (4% of the daily value)
There are numerous other nutrients in strawberries that offer wonderful benefits.
Improves Heart Function
Strawberries have high levels of heart-healthy antioxidants like ellagic acid and flavonoids like anthocyanin, catechin, quercetin, and kaempferol. These phenolic compounds lower the risk of cardiovascular diseases by inhibiting the formation of total and LDL (bad) cholesterol. They also relax the blood vessels, causing improved blood flow and preventing cardiovascular problems. Additionally, the high fiber content, vitamin C, and folate in strawberries form an ideal cardiac health pack as they effectively reduce cholesterol in the arteries and vessels.
Regulate Blood Sugar Levels
Strawberries also contain ellagic acid, and this, along with the antioxidants, helps in slowing down the digestion of starchy foods. This controls the rise in blood sugar levels post a starchy meal. It also helps individuals with type-2 diabetes keep their blood sugar levels in check.
Strawberries also have a low glycemic index (40), which means they are unlikely to cause sharp sugar spikes when taken by diabetics.
The fiber in strawberries can also help regulate blood sugar levels.
Strawberries contain salicylic acid, alpha hydroxy acid (AHA), and ellagic acid, which reduce hyperpigmentation, prevent acne, and remove dead skin cells. For a face mask for glowing skin, crush 4-5 strawberries and mix it with a tablespoon of honey. Apply on the face, leave it till dry, and wash off. Strawberry moisturizing lip balms also help keep lips hydrated.
Help Fight Cancer
Strawberries are exceptionally good sources of vitamin C and fiber, both of which have been found to protect from cancers of the esophagus and colon. The anticancer properties of strawberries, according to the American Institute for Cancer Research, can be attributed to the presence of ellagic acid – a phytochemical that can prevent cancers of the skin, lung, bladder, and breast.
Ellagic acid acts as an anticancer agent in several ways – it acts as an antioxidant, slows down the production of cancer cells, and helps the body destroy certain types of carcinogens.
Vitamin C in strawberries boosts collagen production, tones the skin, and has an anti-aging effect. Also, a study showed that its extract is abundant in anthocyanins and protects against ultraviolet radiation. Using strawberry masks regularly can keep the skin fresh and clean.
Strawberries are excellent sources of vitamin C. In fact, a single serving of strawberries has more vitamin C than an orange. Vitamin C has been found to trigger immune-boosting antibodies, which ultimately enhance your body’s ability to fight infections.
In one Switzerland study, it had been found that supplementation of vitamin C had improved the various components of the immune system. According to research conducted by South African doctors, supplementation of vitamin C increased the concentration of immunoglobulin, which is an antibody and a key component of the immune system. Strawberries are also known to fight allergies and asthma.
Eating strawberries can prevent eye conditions like dry eyes, degeneration of the optic nerves, macular degeneration, vision defects, and increased susceptibility to infections. Antioxidants in strawberries, such as flavonoids, phenolic phytochemicals, and ellagic acid, can help avoid almost all eye problems because they protect against free radical scavenging activity.
One more condition strawberries can fix is the disturbance in ocular pressure, the pressure within the eyes, which can be harmful. They also contain potassium, which helps in maintaining the correct pressure.
Regulate Blood Pressure
As already mentioned, strawberries contain anthocyanins, which are powerful antioxidants that relax the lining of the blood vessels and open them up, thereby lowering blood pressure.
Strawberries are also rich in potassium, a nutrient that helps control blood pressure
Treats Arthritis & Gout
Strawberries are abundant in antioxidants and detoxifiers, which help reduce arthritis and gout pain. They also aid in preventing arthritic symptoms such as degeneration of muscles and tissues, drying up of the lubricating fluids in the joints, and accumulation of toxic substances and acids (such as uric acid) in the body.
Improve Brain Health
The credit goes to the antioxidants, again. Strawberries, with their high content of antioxidants, protect the brain cells from damage due to free radicals. They also change the way the neurons in the brain communicate with each other. This ultimately leads to improved brain health.
A study conducted by Harvard researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital has revealed that intake of strawberries can delay memory decline in older women over time. This benefit can be attributed to the presence of flavonoids in strawberries. Also, it was found that an increased intake of anthocyanidins helped in slowing down memory decline.
According to the studies conducted by researchers from Tufts University and University of Maryland Baltimore County, a majority of brain diseases (including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s) are caused due to an increase in the amount of a particular toxic protein. But the consumption of strawberries has been found to promote the brain’s natural housekeeping mechanism (also called autophagy), thereby reducing the accumulation of this protein.
Strawberries boost the production of the adiponectin and leptin, both of which are fat-burning hormones. They help reduce appetite, decrease glucose, and reduce body weight and fat, all of which promote weight loss. Also, strawberry lemonade sparkling water is a natural way of flavoring water and increasing liquid intake, which also helps in shedding pounds.
Prevents Birth Defects
Folic acid in strawberries is a necessary nutrient, especially during pregnancy, as it helps in preventing birth defects. It is also important for ensuring optimal health during pregnancy.
Strawberries contain quercetin, and according to a study conducted by the University of Massachusetts, intake of quercetin, along with regular exercise, can reduce atherosclerosis plaque formation .
Strawberries are also rich in vitamin C, which plays a major role in preventing inflammation. This vitamin also plays a role in easing the symptoms of arthritis and gout.
It has been found that high levels of C-reactive protein (or CRP) can signal increasing levels of inflammation in the body. According to researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health, women who consumed 16 or more strawberries every week were 14 percent less likely to have elevated levels of this protein.
Strawberries reduce elevated blood levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a substance produced by the liver that increases inflammation in the body. A study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health showed that women who ate more than 16 strawberries in a week are 14% less likely to have elevated C-reactive protein levels.
Help Treat Constipation
Given that strawberries are rich in fiber, they can help treat constipation. The fiber in the fruit can also relieve other digestive issues like gas and bloating.
Keep Teeth Healthy
Strawberries contain malic acid, which acts as an astringent and removes tooth discoloration. This means you can use this fruit to whiten your teeth. You simply can crush the strawberry to a pulp and mix with baking soda until you obtain a smooth blend. Using a soft toothbrush, spread the mixture on your teeth. Leave it on for 5 minutes, brush thoroughly with toothpaste and then rinse.
Don’t overdo it, though – as the acid in the fruit might damage your enamel.
The anti-inflammatory power of the antioxidants in strawberries helps reduce the formation of blood clots that are linked with stroke.
Studies show that eating strawberries, which have a low glycemic index, can lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Additionally, another study showed that eating strawberries improved glycemic control among diabetics.
The rich variety of antioxidants, ellagic acid, and vitamins help battle hair loss, moisturize the hair, and prevent dandruff.
For glossy hair, you can mix 5-6 crushed strawberries with 1 tablespoon of yogurt. Massage this into damp hair and rinse off after 10-15 minutes. Shampoo as usual. This works as a natural hair conditioner.
How to select and store?
Nothing beats fresh strawberries plucked from the bush and eaten raw! Here’s how to choose the best ones:
- Select organic, locally grown strawberries, as they are safe to eat and have a sweet, wholesome flavor.
- When you choose strawberries, look for the ones that are red and fragrant.
- The imported variety is available all year round.
- You can refrigerate them for a week or freeze them for up to six months.
- You can also buy freeze-dried strawberries and use it in smoothies.
- They are highly perishable and should be eaten in a couple of days.
Best of British
The strawberry season in the UK is short and runs from the end of May through July. To achieve maximum yields during this short season, farmers need to protect emerging berries from the muddy soil. Traditionally, this was done by spreading a layer of straw around each new plant - hence the name strawberry.
Try to choose locally grown strawberries during the harvesting season as they will have the best flavour, though imported berries are available all year round. The scent of strawberries can be an indicator of quality. They are highly perishable and so are best eaten within a couple of days.
- The average strawberry has 200 seeds.
- Strawberries are the first fruits to ripen in the spring.
- There are more than 103 species of strawberries.
- 94% of US households consume strawberries.
- Americans eat 3.4 pounds of fresh strawberries each year.
- Belgium has a museum just for strawberries.
- Strawberries were found in Rome in 234 BC.
Issues With Pregnancy And Breastfeeding
Though taking the fruit in normal amounts is safe during pregnancy and breastfeeding, we don’t know what will happen if it is taken in excess. Stick to normal food amounts.
Strawberries might prolong bleeding time and even increase the risk of bruising in susceptible individuals. Use with caution if you have bleeding disorders. Also, take care if you are undergoing surgery as strawberries might slow blood clotting. Avoid use at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.
Excessive consumption of strawberries can cause:
- Diarrhea and gas
- Liver disease
- Yellow skin (jaundice)
- Pain and swelling (inflammation) of the lining of the respiratory tract
- Gout, arthritis
- Nervous tension
- Water retention (edema)
- Kidney ailments, kidney stones
- Allergic reactions