11 Healing Health Benefits of Strawberries
Strawberries are one of the most popular fruits in the United States and throughout the entire world. Strawberries have been consumed for medicinal and culinary purposes since ancient Egypt. One of the first fruits to ripen in the garden, this member of the rose family is full of essential vitamins and minerals that can promote everything from overall health to weight loss.
The Healing Benefits of Strawberries
1. Strawberries Can Strengthen the Immune System
Strawberries, like many other fruits and vegetables, are high in Vitamin C. Vitamin C is essential for strengthening the immune system to reduce the duration of illnesses and strengthens resistance against certain pathogens. Just one serving of strawberries contains nearly one hundred and fifty percent of the daily recommended amount of this vitamin. (1)
2. Strawberries Can Reduce the Incidence and Duration of the Common Cold, Malaria, Diarrhea and Pneumonia
Vitamin C helps the body fight off various infections, but also helps the immune system treat injuries and wounds. Any excess of Vitamin C that is not absorbed in the body is simply eliminated with other waste in the urine, so it is virtually impossible to overdose on this essential vitamin. Supplementing with vitamin C was found to improve the immune system through natural killer cell activities, chemotaxis, antimicrobial properties, and delayed-type hypersensitivity. (2)
Vitamin C may also contribute towards the maintenance of cells, thereby protecting them from inflammatory responses. This is of special importance in populations where a nutrient-deficient diet is prevalent, such as in developing countries or low-middle-income households.
3. Strawberries Can Help Lower Bad Cholesterol
Millions of Americans struggle with high levels of LDL, or ‘bad’ cholesterol. Much of the food that is made readily available in restaurants and cafeterias in the United States is high in cholesterol, which can lead to clogged arteries. Clogged arteries, in turn, can lead to an increased risk of stroke, heart attack, and heart disease. Strawberries contain anthocyanins, which give the fruit its signature red color, and while researchers are not positive, it is believed that this chemical helps to lower bad cholesterol throughout the body.
Several studies show that supplementation with at least 500mg/d of vitamin C for 4 weeks may result in an increase in serum LDL cholesterol and little to no elevation of serum HDL cholesterol. (3)
4. Strawberries Are High in Dietary Fiber
Strawberries contain two different types of fiber, insoluble and soluble fiber. Soluble fiber works with water in the digestive tract to ensure that cholesterol and other toxins are not absorbed by the intestines. Insoluble fiber adds ‘roughage’ or bulk to the waste in the intestines, leading to more regular bowel movements. Eating ten strawberries will contribute approximately ten percent of your recommended daily amount of fiber. (4)
5. Strawberries May Help With Weight Loss
Approximately 75 percent of men in the United States are considered overweight or obese, and excess belly fat can increase the risk of a variety of different diseases, such as heart disease and type two diabetes. Strawberries are high in fiber, which can help keep you feeling full longer. (5)
Additionally, strawberries have a high water content. Water is particularly important when losing weight, as a properly hydrated individual is less likely to overeat. Strawberries also keep blood sugar levels in check, which, when are not properly regulated, makes it incredibly hard to lose weight. There is also preliminary evidence that strawberries may boost metabolism.
[RELATED: 13 High Fiber Foods to Keep Your Gut Healthy]
6. Strawberries May Help Lower High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is a culprit that leads to a host of other illnesses, including heart disease and stroke. Strawberries, along with blueberries, are effective at lowering high blood pressure and improve selected cardiovascular risk factors. (6)
Studies have shown that incorporating at least one cup of strawberries into your weekly diet can lead to lowering blood pressure levels by up to eight percent over time. It is believed that strawberries help to open up veins and arteries, allowing the blood to flow more easily.
7. Strawberries May Keep Your Eyes Healthy
As we age, our eyes and vision can begin to deteriorate as a result of various ailments including glaucoma and cataracts. While some degeneration is inevitable, the high levels of Vitamin C in strawberries can help to keep the eyes as healthy as possible, and keeps the blood vessels and tissue around the eyes strong. Strawberries are also full of folic acid and antioxidants that keep the eyes free of diseases.
Furthermore, strawberries contain anthocyanins, which protect against aging and light-induced damage. (7)
8. Strawberries Are Great for Pregnant Women
During pregnancy, many women have a wide variety of food cravings, whether it’s for salty, sweet or savory foods. Strawberries are an ideal snacking option for pregnant women for a number of different reasons. Strawberries settle that craving for something sweet but are not packed full of artificial sweeteners and chemicals. Particularly for those with gestational diabetes or who are considered at risk, watching blood sugar levels is incredibly important. Unmonitored gestational diabetes can put the fetus at risk for high birth weights and a complicated delivery, and puts them at risk for developing diabetes themselves later in life.
Strawberries are full of a variety of different vitamins and nutrients that are very important for pregnant moms and developing fetuses, but are important particularly for their high levels of folic acid. Folic acid helps prevent birth defects of the brain and spinal cord, and can also prevent premature birth and low birth weights. (8)
9. Strawberries Can Play A Role In Cancer Prevention
Cancer is a terrifying disease that can impact almost any part of the body, and every year, over one million children and adults in the United States receive this unfortunate diagnosis. Cancer has a variety of different internal and external risks factors, but recent research has shown that unstable molecules known as free radicals play a role in altering DNA and causing cancer.
Strawberries, like many other types of fruits and vegetables, are high in antioxidants, which work to eliminate free radicals and reverse the damage done to DNA. Antioxidants may also help prevent cancer from spreading to other organs and can help kill the initial cancer stem cells. Adding strawberries and other fruits and vegetables while avoiding environmental risk factors as much as possible will help to lower your chances of developing cancer. (9, 10)
10. Strawberries Promote Healthy Skin
Strawberries, whether eaten or applied topically, is fantastic for all over skin health. The high levels of Vitamin C help keep the skin looking young by keeping blood vessels healthy. Dietary fiber keeps the bowels moving regularly, meaning that toxins that can cause acne are flushed out of the body before they can cause problems. Strawberries also contain a significant amount of folic acid, which aids the body in cell growth, and can help keep your skin glowing and youthful. (11)
Strawberries and other berries contain vitamins A and C, which have been associated with improved skin properties such as reduced sebum production, increased hydration, improved discoloration, and a reduced risk of skin cancer. (12)
11. Strawberries May Help Keep Joints Healthy
Millions of Americans suffer from arthritis, which occurs when the cartilage between joints begins to disintegrate, causing joint damage. Arthritis is caused by age, obesity, and prior damage to the joint, and while little can be done for true prevention of arthritis, antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents in strawberries can play a huge role in managing arthritis pain as well as preventing this condition from advancing further. Anthocyanin plays an important role in both the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Studies have shown that eating at least sixteen strawberries each week can play a significant role in reducing arthritis inflammation. (13)
Strawberries and Pesticide Warnings
With the exception of organic foods, the majority of foods in the U.S. food supply contain trace amounts of pesticides. Even though these pesticides are present in very small amounts, their negative effects on health are well-documented. Pesticide exposure can effect cells, nerves and organs, particularly the liver. According to the “Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides” by the Environmental Working Group’s 2014 report, conventionally-grown strawberries are ranked 12th in the top fruits and vegetables found to contain pesticides. Individuals who consume strawberries may want to avoid conventionally-grown strawberries and opt for organically-grown produce instead.
Strawberries are an incredible fruit, and many of those who enjoy their sweet taste may not be aware of the various benefits that this berry has throughout the entire body. Strawberries are a very versatile fruit, and the flavor goes well with a variety of sweet and savory dishes.
Incorporating just one cup of strawberries into your diet each day, or every just once a week, can improve overall health and prevent the development of serious diseases.
(Read this next: Strawberry Nutrition Facts)