There’s a slight coolness in the air and a rosy winter is spreading its wings around us. Along with the change in the weather, winter brings with it a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables. Some of the best quality of produce is available in the winters, and it’s my advice that one should make the utmost use of it. There are many fruits and vegetables which are seasonal and available only during the winter months.
Strawberry is one such fruit. While Mango is the king of fruits –another fruit available for a short duration during summers and power packed with nutrients – I would consider strawberries to be the Queen of fruits. This sweet but slightly tart fruit is completely packed with a powerhouse of nutrition and health providing benefits.
In ancient Rome, strawberries were widely popular and used as a medicine for alleviating a variety of ailments like gout, kidney stones, bad breath, inflammation, fever etc. This attractive, deep red fruit is ranked amongst the top ten fruits and vegetables of the world in terms of antioxidant capacity. Research has found that when compared with other fruits, it ranks third – blackberries and walnuts being the first two – in its antioxidant capacity. It has an ORAC – oxygen radical absorbance capacity, a measure for antioxidant capacity – of 3577 micromols per 100 gms.
Strawberries are rich in essential nutrients like vitamin C, potassium, folic acid, folate, calcium, magnesium, vitamin A and fiber. 100 gms of strawberries give just 32 kcalsand about 98% of your recommended daily intake for vitamin C. This nutritional powerhouse also contains antioxidants like anthocyanins, ellagic acid and quercetin which have protective effects for cancer.
1.Heart Health: Our heart and blood vessels need everyday protection from oxidative and inflammatory damage and the benefits of strawberry for the same are excellent. Flavonoids like anthocyanins reduce the risk of heart attack whereas quercetin brings down the level of LDL or low density lipo proteins. The high polyphenol content in strawberries may also reduce cardiovascular diseases by reducing platelet build up and reducing blood pressure. It also helps in reducing joint inflammation. The high potassium content of strawberries help in keeping the blood pressure in check.
2. Rich in Vitamin C: Strawberries are an excellent source of vitamin c. consuming about 8 to 12 strawberries everyday would help one to reach the recommended intake for this vitamin. Humans are unable to produce vitamin c naturally and hence it becomes all the more important to meet the requirements. High vitamin c levels in the body not only help one to fight against infections but also provide protection against allergies and asthma. It helps to boost your immunity and offers protection in eye health as it helps strengthen the retina and cornea of the eye. Also it helps in the production of collagen which helps one to maintain healthy skin and keep wrinkles at bay.
3.Fights Diabetes: Researches show that the polyphenols in strawberries slow the breakdown and absorption of carbohydrates in the body, thus decreasing the need for insulin to maintain normal blood glucose. Also it has a good fiber content which again helps in the maintenance of diabetes. It has a low glycemic index of 40 making it an ideal snack for diabetics.
4.Inhibits Cancer: Lutein and zeaxanthin are antioxidants present in strawberries that suppress the growth of cancer cells. Anti- cancer benefits of strawberries are best documented in cases of breast, cervical, colon and esophageal cancer. Since chronic and excessive inflammation and stress are often the causes of cancer, regular consumption of strawberries is an excellent method of prevention.
5.Pregnancy and Depression: Adequate consumption of folic acid is a must during the period of pregnancy for the health of the mother and baby both. It prevents against neural tube and various other birth defects in infants. Folate is necessary for pregnant mothers in the early stages of their pregnancy and also for proper brain, skull and spine development of the baby. It is also important for women who are trying to conceive. Folate helps with depression and also helps in the production of feel good hormones in the body like serotonin which balances the mood, sleep and appetite of the individual. Strawberry, a known aphrodisiac is rich in both these nutrients.
Apart from the above benefits, strawberries also help in alopecia and hair thinning, improves the shine in your hair, keeps under eye puffiness at bay, lightens your skin and improves your complexion.
These are just a few of the benefits of this wonderful fruit. So, dice them in to your salads, slice them on your cereals and oat meal and blend them in your smoothies and fruit cocktails.
Enjoy the multitudes of benefit of strawberries this winter and stay healthy!!
(The writer is a gold medallist in Food & Nutrition with more than 12 years experience. She manages various ailments through lifestyle and dietary modifications and specializes in weight loss & management. Visit her @ Anoushka Polyclinic, 102, Crystal Center, Raheja Vihar, Powai. For appointments: 022 2857 6537 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org)