Strawberries Good for You? (Superberry or Sugarberry?)
Strawberries are most well-known for their bright red colour, juicy texture, and sweet aroma. In North America, strawberries are known as a fruit you can hand pick in the summertime. You can consume strawberries on their own, in smoothies, milkshakes, as jam and even in pie form. Scientifically known as Fragaria ananassa, strawberries are cultivated worldwide for its fruit.
Strawberries are a potent source of antioxidants, are full of water, contain an abundant amount of vitamins and minerals, promote heart health, balance blood sugar levels, and prevent cancer, among many other things. Strawberries taste amazingly delicious and are also super healthy, too. Below we will outline the many health benefits of strawberries.
Strawberries Are Extremely Hydrating
The berry family of fruits pack a hydrating punch, with raspberries and blueberries offering around 85 percent water, and blackberries slightly higher at 88 percent water per fruit (1). Surprisingly, strawberries are the best of the bunch. Similar to watermelon, strawberries contain around 92 percent water per fruit.
Consuming water-rich fruits post-workout may hydrate your body twice as effectively as a glass of water (2). This is due to the high amount of natural sugars, amino acids, and electrolytes in fruits, such as strawberries, that are lost through sweat during exercise.
Bottom Line: Eat your water! Grab a handful of strawberries to rehydrate your body.
Strawberries Provide Essential Nutrients
Here is the nutrient breakdown per 100 grams of fresh strawberries (3):
- Calories: 32
- Water: 92%
- Protein: 0.7%
- Carbs: 7.7g
- Sugar: 4.9g
- Fiber: 2g
- Fat: 0.3g
- Potassium: 153mg
- Phosphorous: 24mg
- Magnesium: 13mg
- Calcium: 16mg
- Vitamin C: 59mg
- Folate (B9): 24µg
- Vitamin A: 12 IU
- Aspartic Acid: 149mg
- Glutamic Acid: 98mg
- Leucine: 34mg
- Alanine: 33mg
- Lysine: 26mg
- Glycine: 26mg
- Serine: 25mg
- Tyrosine: 22mg
Strawberries Are an Abundant Source of Several Different Antioxidants
When we hear the word strawberry, we think of a commonplace fruit that can be found in most households. But the antioxidant capacity of strawberries is quite powerful and unique. Recent research measured the antioxidant capacity of strawberries, and compared with all other fruits strawberries came out in 4th place (behind blackberries, cranberries, and raspberries) (4). Strawberries are packed with a variety of different antioxidants, which we will outline below.
1) Anthocyanins (Pelargonidin)
An anthocyanin is one of the pigments that gives strawberries their deep red colour. While as many as 25 different kinds of anthocyanins have been detected in strawberries, the main one to note is called pelargonidin (5). Like all anthocyanins, pelargonidin is a potent antioxidant, and is the most abundant in strawberries (6).
It is said that anthocyanins are the most important group of visible plant pigments besides chlorophyll. In addition to providing colour to plants, such as strawberries, they protect against a variety of oxidants which helps to prevent cancer (7). The antioxidant profile of anthocyanins are what make strawberries such a heart healthy and immunity boosting fruit.
2) Ellagitannins & Ellagic Acid
Ellagic acid is a polyphenol antioxidant found in high amounts in strawberries and many other fruits and vegetables (11). Inside the human body, ellagitannins are converted to ellagic acid in the gut.
Procyanidins are antioxidants found in the seeds and outer layer of strawberries. As antioxidants, procyanidins act as an anti-inflammatory in the body, reduce the risk of cardiovascular mortality, and are cancer chemopreventive agents (14, 15, 16).
4) Lutein and Zeaxanthin
Lutein and Zeaxanthin are two types of carotenoids (antioxidants) which are found in many plants, including strawberries (17). These two carotenoids are pigmented, which means they contribute to the deep red colour that is characteristic of the strawberry fruit.
Lutein and zeaxanthin are free radical scavengers that help to prevent oxidative damage to cells in the body (18). For this reason, these two compounds can be considered anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer and immunity boosting agents.
Bottom Line: Strawberries are an abundant source of antioxidants. Pelargonidin, ellagitannins, ellagic acid, procyanidins, lutein and zeaxanthin are the major antioxidants found in strawberries and provide many immunity boosting health benefits. Most importantly, it is evident that he antioxidants in strawberries also help to prevent different forms of cancer (19, 20).
Strawberries Promote Pre-Natal Health
Folate, also known as Vitamin B9, is a critically important nutrient for the health of an infant. Folate helps prevent neural tube defects (NTDs) — serious birth defects of the spinal chord and the brain. NTDs affect around 3,000 pregnancies a year in the United States alone (21).
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that women who take a daily dose of folate at least one month prior to conception, and during pregnancy, can reduce their baby’s risk of NTDs by up to 70 percent — that’s a significant reduction in NTD risk.
There’s good news for the strawberry lovers out there, since strawberries are quite high in folate. Eight medium strawberries provides nearly 9 percent of the daily requirement of folate (22).
Conclusion: eat strawberries to boost your folate intake, and promote a healthy pregnancy.
Strawberries Help Boost Immunity and Reduce Inflammation
As outlined above, strawberries are an amazing source of antioxidants which help to fight off harmful free radicals. Antioxidants are known immunity boosters, and in turn help to reduce disease causing inflammation in the body. For example, anthocyanin (along with other phytochemicals) give strawberries their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant health benefits (23).
As well as being full of a wide variety of antioxidants, strawberries are an excellent source of vitamin C. One cup of strawberries offers 100 percent of your required daily intake of vitamin C (24). Vitamin C is a well-known immunity booster, and an extremely powerful antioxidant (25, 26).
Because strawberries offer a substantial dose of antioxidants, fiber, vitamins, and minerals, these components help lower the inflammation that often affects people with arthritis and other conditions, such as stroke and heart disease (27).
“Research has also shown that women who ate 16 or more strawberries a week had lower C-reactive protein (CRP), a measure of body-wide inflammation linked to arthritis flares and heart disease.”
Put simply, strawberries help to toughen the immune system making us less susceptible to every day colds and more serious conditions such as diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, and cancer (28).
[Related: 3 Benefits of Turmeric Milk for Inflammation]
Strawberries Boost Heart Health
Heart disease continues to be the leading cause of death among men and women in the United States.
To help prevent heart disease it is recommended to adopt a lifestyle that includes a diet low in sodium, cholesterol, saturated and trans-fatty acids (29). It is also important to include heart healthy foods that contain antioxidants, potassium, and fiber.
“Strawberries are a perfect match for heart health because they not only contain those essential elements [antioxidants, potassium, and fiber] but they are also naturally fat, sodium and cholesterol-free. Strawberries also help control three of the risk factors associated with heart disease: high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and high homocysteine levels (30).”
Furthermore, among the many antioxidants in strawberries, there is one in particular to note when it comes to heart health. Ellagic acid is an antioxidant found in strawberries which is known to suppress cancer cell growth. But to our surprise, ellagic acid does more than just prevent cancer cell growth. Along with other phytochemicals found in strawberries, ellagic acid counteracts the effect of LDL (bad) cholesterol in the body (31).
Bottom Line: The antioxidants (ellagic acid), potassium, and fiber found in strawberries provide tremendous support when it comes to hearth health.
Choose Your Strawberries Wisely
If grown naturally in North America, strawberries reach their peak ripeness between April and May. But, through the use of GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms), strawberries are grown year round in California. Organic farmers and nutritionists are questioning the morality of GMOs being added to strawberries because this manipulation changes the crop’s natural harvest period and creates a new species of organism that could not naturally exist otherwise (32).
Furthermore, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported that a single strawberry contains an average of thirteen different pesticides (33). The use of methyl bromide as a pesticide on strawberries has been a topic of controversial debate. Methyl bromide is a greenhouse gas emitter that heats the Earth’s ozone layer, and also has negative health consequences for consumers of plants grown in the affected fertilizers. Exposure to high concentrations of methyl bromide can cause damage to the respiratory and central nervous systems, and in extreme cases, even death (34).
Bottom Line: GMOs and pesticide use are important topics to consider when buying strawberries. In order for fruit to be sold as “certified organic“, the soil must be free of synthetic pesticides. The best bet is to buy organic when possible!
Strawberries Are Very Good For You
As we highlighted above, strawberries are extremely good for you. This fruit tastes amazing, is naturally sweet, and is also full of an abundance of cancer preventing antioxidants.
Furthermore, strawberries contain many essential vitamins, including vitamin C and folate, which help to reduce inflammation in the body and promote a healthy pregnancy.
(You may also like: 11 Healing Health Benefits of Strawberries)
One article summarized the benefits of strawberries perfectly:
“Among berries, the strawberry is a rich source of several nutritive and non-nutritive bioactive compounds, which are implicated in various health-promoting and disease preventive effects. A plethora of studies have examined the benefits of strawberry consumption, such as prevention of inflammation disorders and oxidative stress, reduction of obesity related disorders and heart disease risk, and protection against various types of cancer (35).”
So go ahead, grab a handful of strawberries and enjoy!