Typical red fruits of spring, strawberries are very rich in vitamin C and compounds with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory action. Discover the benefits and nutritional properties of strawberry.
Strawberries are a spring fruit rich in properties, with a sweet and sugary taste that make them one of the favorite foods for children. Part of the Rosaceae family, the plant is called Fragaria vesca, a term that recalls the Latin noun “fragrans”, that is, perfumed with which the Romans used to indicate these delicious fruits.
The red fruit that we all know well in reality, from a botanical point of view, is not a fruit but a container of many different fruits (the seeds that we can see on the red surface of the strawberry itself).
The origin of the strawberry is very ancient: it is also present in the Bible, where it is described as an abundant and tasty spontaneous fruit, but its presence is also attested in the Neolithic. Strawberries appear to originate from our continent: Europe. In fact, in many woods located on the Italian territory, it is possible to find, in the spring and summer months, the wild strawberry.
In this regard, it seems only right to mention the strawberries of Nemi, a small medieval village near Rome which hosts a renowned wild strawberry festival every year. In addition, there are many different species of cultivated strawberries, often created by crossing a South American variety (granaria chiloensis) and a US variety (fragaria virginiana).
Strawberries, together with other berries belonging to the Rosaceae family or to the Ericaceae family, such as blueberry, are considered among the richest food sources of bioactive compounds, with formidable antioxidant properties. A balanced and balanced diet, therefore, should never deprive oneself of these very important foods. Let’s now discover all the properties of strawberries and the benefits that these fruits bring to our health.
Strawberries: calories and nutritional values
Strawberries have few calories, only 30 per 100 grams, but it is a very rich source of various nutritional compounds and in particular of sugars, vitamins, flavonoids and anthocyanins. These nutrients, acting synergistically, give the strawberry useful properties to promote health and prevent various diseases.
The sugar content of strawberries is modest (more than 5 grams per 100 grams of food) and they have a good amount of fiber, compared to an almost negligible amount of lipids.
Nutritional values per 100g of strawberries:
- Waterfall: 90.5 g
- kcal: 30
- Proteins: 0.9 g
- Fat: 0.4 g
- Carbohydrates: 5.3 g
- Fibers: 1.6 g
- Iron: 0.8 mg
- Soccer: 35 mg
- Manganese: 0.3 mg
- Potassium: 160 mg
- Magnesium: 10 mg
- Phosphorus: 28 mg
- Iodine: 9 µg
- C vitamin: 54 mg
- Biotin: 1.1 µg
- Vitamin K: 3 µg
- Folate: 20 µg
- Glycemic index: 25
- Cholesterol: 0 g
Strawberries: what they contain
Strawberries contain numerous beneficial compounds. Among the minerals they are rich in manganese stands out : 100 grams of strawberries contain 13% of the daily dose recommended by the guidelines.
Among the vitamins, however, the most represented is undoubtedly vitamin C: among the typically summer fruits, in fact, strawberries are those with a higher content of this vitamin with a content of 54 mg in 100 g of product equal to approximately 60% of the recommended daily amount. There is also folic acid.
In addition to manganese and vitamin C, as in many other fruits, strawberries also contain good amounts of potassium (essential mineral for muscle contraction, blood pressure regulation and maintenance of the hydro-saline system) and phosphorus (involved in energy metabolism and in the construction of many proteins): 100 grams of strawberries contain about 4% of the recommended daily dose of these two minerals.
We also find a fair amount of iodine, comparable only to very few other fruits. In this regard, we believe that it is a factor to be taken into consideration, given the rampant iodine deficiency that still afflicts the world population today.
Finally, there are many phenolic compounds present in strawberries: among the flavonoids the most present are campferol and quercetin, among the phenolic acids, gallic acid, caffeic acid, coumarinic acid and ellagic acid and are also present various anthocyanins, responsible for the typical color of these fruits. However, it should be emphasized that the total content of phenolic compounds decreases with the ripening of the fruit.
Strawberries: health benefits
Strawberries are widely used in folk medicine, thanks to their numerous properties. In particular, a cream made with strawberries is used to treat wounds and various skin diseases, while strawberry juice is used in the case of inflammation of the nerves or lungs. Finally, preparations containing strawberry leaf extract have antidiabetic, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. The benefits of strawberry are due to the high content of phenolic compounds, which we talked about in the previous paragraph. We now describe in detail the main beneficial properties of these fruits on our health.
✓ Cardiovascular protection
The presence of antioxidant molecules, able to reduce the oxidation of LDL, protects against the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases.
✓ Reduction of the risk of developing oncological pathologies
Some compounds present in strawberries, such as quercin and ellegic acid, have been shown in vitro to possess anti-cancer activity, inhibiting cell proliferation and therefore suppressing the growth of cancer cells in the case of colon, prostate and of the oral cavity.
✓ Neuro-protective effect
Gallic acid, one of the phenolic acids present in strawberries, is globally recognized for its antioxidant properties and for its neuroprotective action against oxidative stress and neurotoxicity.
✓ Anti-inflammatory effect
Recent studies have shown that regular consumption of strawberries can help resolve complications of chronic and systemic inflammation. Furthermore, a diet rich in strawberries was able to limit neuronal damage in some experiments conducted on mice. This effect is due to the anti-inflammatory action carried out by the phenolic compounds contained in strawberries.
✓ Antioxidant property
Strawberries, like many berries, are among the richest fruits in antioxidant molecules available in nature. Their consumption is in fact recommended in order to prevent various chronic and degenerative diseases since the phenolic compounds contained in strawberries act against oxidative stress by decreasing the formation of malondialdehyde (an indicator of lipid peroxidation), protecting from the oxidation of LDL cholesterol and the cells of the blood from DNA damage.
✓ Treatment of the metabolic syndrome
Several studies carried out on cellular and animal models have highlighted the ability of a diet rich in strawberries to regulate blood glucose levels and inhibit cellular glucose transport and uptake. It has also been shown that strawberry extract contains digestive enzymes that help improve the condition of hyperglycemia and hypertension, typical of individuals with metabolic syndrome.
✓ Draining and purifying action
Strawberries, as we have seen in the previous paragraphs, contain little sodium and a greater amount of potassium and vitamin C. They are therefore useful for their draining action, against water retention and can be used for the preparation of excellent herbal teas and drinks.
✓ Benefits for the teeth
A very effective “do it yourself” method involves rubbing strawberries on your teeth to achieve a whitening effect. Their non-smooth surface, in fact, could have a cleaning action on our teeth. In addition, strawberries contain xylitol, a substance that prevents the formation of plaque.
✓ Strawberries in phytotherapy
Finally, at a phytotherapeutic level, the roots and leaves of strawberries are used for their diuretic action in case of kidney stones or hyperuricemia and as natural astringents, thanks to their richness in tannins.
How many strawberries to eat
Although the strawberry is not considered a fruit in botany (false fruit), from a nutritional point of view it is treated as such. Therefore, one serving of strawberries is equivalent to about 150 grams. In a more practical way, one portion is equivalent to what our hands joined in a “spoon” can hold.
The guidelines for healthy eating recommend consuming 2 portions of fruit a day, therefore, when they are in season, it is also possible to consume strawberries every day to the extent of one or two portions a day. For more variety, however, it is recommended to alternate at least one serving with other seasonal fruits. They are also one of the fruits suitable for diabetics, who, however, will have to dose the quantity according to the advice of an expert who can carefully evaluate each individual case.
Strawberries: how to choose and use them
The natural strawberry harvest period begins in spring and ends in August. We therefore recommend consuming this fruit especially during this period and always choosing organic products and possibly at km 0.
During the choice it is advisable to favor the fruits with a uniform color and the stalk well attached to the tip. Also, to consume more nutrient-rich fruits, it is advisable to choose dark-colored strawberries. To the touch they must be firm and not show dark spots, a sign of poor conservation or excessive ripening.
Strawberries, during the hottest season, can be stored at room temperature no more than a day. So if you have bought them to use them within a day then it is not necessary to store them in the refrigerator. Alternatively, you can keep the strawberries for several days in the refrigerator, placing them in a food container.
Their sweet flavor is well suited to the preparation of fresh and tasty desserts suitable for the hottest season: tiramisu with strawberries or cheese cake with strawberries. In addition, they can be used for the preparation of delicious milkshakes or drinks. Excellent results are obtained by combining strawberries with bananas and a vegetable drink of your choice (for example coconut milk).
How to freeze strawberries
A good way to store strawberries and use them even when they are no longer in season is to freeze them. This conservation technique allows, in fact, to preserve these fruits for a long time without having considerable losses from a nutritional point of view.
To proceed with freezing it is first necessary to remove the stalk, wash and dry the strawberries (whole or cut in half) in the open air; subsequently they must be placed on a tray so that they are well spaced and do not touch each other. At this point they should be placed in the freezer for no less than 6-8 hours. After this time, the tray can be removed and placed in the special food bags. In this way, strawberries can also be stored for several months.
Strawberries: Contraindications and Potential Negative Effects
There are no particular contraindications to moderate consumption of strawberries and, generally, they are a well tolerated fruit even in case of gastritis (in this case, however, it is preferable to consume only ripe fruits). However, it should be noted that strawberries can cause allergic reactions and are histamine-liberating foods. Therefore, even those suffering from histamine intolerance must limit their consumption.
Strawberry allergy is noticeable with the appearance of red spots and itchy skin. In rarer cases it can involve real episodes of hives and swelling of the mouth.