Strawberry Day in February?!? I know, it surprised me too. Most of us probably think of strawberries as a summer fruit. But, thanks to the temperate climates in California and Florida, you can usually find them any time of year. California has such perfect strawberry-growing conditions that it produces nearly 90% of our country’s strawberries. (1)
So, keep these healthy gems on your shopping list, no matter what the season. When you’re shopping, look for medium-sized, dark red berries. They are usually the tastiest and the darker red color means more antioxidants. Unlike some fruits, strawberries do not continue to ripen after they are picked. Strawberries will stay fresh in your refrigerator for about two or three days. You should plan to hold off on rinsing and hulling/trimming them until right before you eat them to retain the best flavor and the most nutrients. Frozen strawberries are great to keep on hand too. They are awesome in smoothies and you will still get all of the health benefits.
Here’s the nutrition scoop on strawberries …
One cup of whole strawberries (around 8 large berries) will give you approximately 46 calories, 1 gram of protein, 3 grams of fiber and no fat. Strawberries are also 91% water — making them great for hydration! (2) All of that fiber and water for so few calories make strawberries a dieter’s dream! Not only are they great for your waistline, they will help keep your cholesterol and blood sugar in check too.
And that’s not all, strawberries are also loaded with vitamin C, folic acid and phytonutrients.(3,4) In fact, that same cup of 8 berries has 85 mg of vitamin C. That’s more vitamin C than a whole orange!
- Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant. It is great for your immune system, your eyesight and your skin.
- Folic acid is vital for your red blood cell formation and growth (to prevent folate-deficiency anemia).
- Phytonutrients are also powerful antioxidants that can help prevent multiple health problems, from: cancer to diabetes, inflammation and cognitive decline.
Strawberries get their beautiful red color from a group of phytonutrients called anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are much more than a pretty pigment. In addition to the previously mentioned benefits, multiple studies show that they can significantly improve heart health. A recent study by Harvard School of Public Health and the University of East Anglia in the UK, shows that eating three servings per week of strawberries and blueberries can reduce the risk of a heart attack by 32% in young and middle-aged women. (5,6) Some of the other disease-fighting antioxidants found in strawberries are ellagitannins and quercetin. (7)
How are you going to enjoy your strawberries today?
I love to use them in a fruit parfait or slice them on top of oatmeal or whole-grain pancakes for breakfast. I eat them by the handful or blend them into a smoothie for a snack. I think they make a delicious salad topping for lunch or dinner. They even make a delectable dessert — especially when they are dipped in some dark chocolate.
Try these great recipes:
- My own Simple Strawberry Smoothie Recipe (kid approved!):
- Blend together 1 cup of milk (coconut, almond, soy or cow’s milk – whatever you like), 1 cup of strawberries (fresh or frozen), ½ cup yogurt, 1 orange and 1 frozen banana. (Whenever I have bananas that are starting to get too ripe, I slice them up and stick them in the freezer. They are awesome in smoothies!).
- Meusli Parfaits from Ellie Krieger
- Green Salad with Strawberries and Goat Cheese from Eating Well
- Strawberries Dipped in Chocolate from Eating Well
Looking for even more ideas? Check out this link:
Top 10 Ways to Enjoy Strawberries from Fruits and Veggies More Matters
- About Strawberries. California Strawberry Commission. Published 2017. Accessed February 21, 2017.
- USDA Food Composition Databases. United States Department of Agriculture. Revised May, 2016. Accessed February 21, 2017.
- About the Buzz: Are Strawberries the Superfood You’ve Been Eating Your Whole Life? Fruit & Veggies More Matters. Accessed February 21, 2017
- Strawberries 101: Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits. Authority Nutrition. Accessed February 21, 2017.
- Webb, D. Anthocyanins. Today’s Dietitian. 2014; 16(3): 20.
- Schaeffer, J. Latest Scoop on Berries – Harvard Study Shows Heart Health Benefits for Young Women. Today’s Dietitian. June 2013; 15(6): 16.
- Health and Healing Fact Sheets: Strawberries. Oregon State University. Accessed February 21, 2017.