Strawberry season is here! In addition to being delicious, strawberries are incredibly healthy and very versatile in the kitchen, where they can be used in both sweet and savory dishes.
Packed with vitamins, fiber, and high levels of antioxidants known as polyphenols, strawberries are low in calories and free of sodium, cholesterol, and fat. They also are a great source of vitamin C, manganese, and potassium — important vitamins and minerals to keep you healthy. Here are some other nutritional benefits of strawberries.
Give Your Immune System a Boost
You only need to eat about five large berries to get 98 percent of your daily value of vitamin C. This vitamin plays a crucial role in maintaining a healthy immune system, helping your body ward off sickness, and recover more quickly if you do get sick.
Promote Heart Health
The heart-shaped silhouette of a strawberry is the first clue that it is good for you. Studies have shown that regularly consuming anthocyanins — phytonutrients found in strawberries — can lower the risk of heart attack. Plus, strawberries may aid in preventing platelet buildup and even reducing blood pressure.
Support Healthy Pregnancy
Folate is a B-vitamin recommended for women who are pregnant or trying to conceive, and strawberries are a good source. One cup of fresh strawberries has approximately 35 milligrams of folate, which is instrumental in the early stages of pregnancy to help in the development of the baby’s brain, skull, and spinal cord. The folic acid in strawberries may help to prevent certain birth defects, such as spina bifida.
Inflammation can cause a number of problems in the body. Chronic inflammation has even been linked to serious conditions such as stroke, heart attacks, and cancer. Strawberries have anti-inflammatory properties that can help promote all-around well-being.
Fiber is a key nutrient for your digestive system. Fiber-rich strawberries are a great way to add more fiber to your diet. They also have a high water content which is important to help prevent constipation.
Regulate Blood Sugar
Strawberries have a lower glycemic index than other fruits, making them useful in regulating blood sugar levels. Studies have even shown that eating strawberries every day can reduce complications related to diabetes.
Strawberry picking is a true art form. Choose medium-sized berries that are firm, plump, and deep red; once picked, they do not ripen further. Here are local farms that offer strawberry-picking:
- 1½ cups almond milk, unsweetened
- 1 large ripe banana
- 2 tablespoons ground chia seeds or flaxseeds
- 2 cups fresh strawberries
In a blender, add almond milk, banana, seeds, and strawberries in this order. Blend until smooth.
Source: Kait’s kitchen
Strawberry Balsamic Salad
- ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 cup sliced fresh strawberries
- 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
- 1 cup halved mini mozzarella balls
- 1 ripe avocado, pitted and diced
- 1/3 cup pecans, toasted
- 1/3 cup loosely packed basil, torn
- Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
In a small saucepan, bring the balsamic vinegar to a high simmer over medium heat. Stir, then reduce the heat to low, and simmer until the vinegar has thickened and reduced by half, about 8 to 10 minutes. Set aside to cool. Place the strawberries, cherry tomatoes, mozzarella, avocado, pecans, and basil in a shallow bowl or platter. Drizzle with olive oil, and season generously with salt and pepper. Gently toss. Drizzle with the reduced balsamic.
Homemade Strawberry Popsicles
- 2 pounds of fresh strawberries, washed, hulled, and roughly sliced
- ¼-½ cup sugar. Start with ¼ cup and add more to taste
- 1 cup water
- Popsicle molds and sticks
Mix strawberries and sugar together. Let the mixture set for 15-20 minutes. You want the sugar to draw out the juices from the strawberries. Add more sugar to taste, if desired. Pour strawberries into the blender. Pour in water and blend until the strawberries are in chunky pieces. Pour into mold. Add popsicle sticks. Freeze until solid.
Strawberry-Pretzel Icebox Pie
- 2 cups finely crushed pretzel sticks
- ¾ cup butter, melted
- ¼ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
- 2 cups sliced fresh strawberries
- 1 (14-oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
- ½ (8-oz.) package cream cheese, softened
- 4 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon strawberry gelatin
- 2 cups whipping cream, divided
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Stir together first three ingredients; firmly press on the bottom, up sides, and onto the lip of a lightly greased 10-in pie plate. Bake 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from oven to a wire rack, and cool completely (about 30 minutes). Process strawberries in a food processor until finely chopped, stopping to scrape down sides as needed. Beat condensed milk, cream cheese and gelatin at medium speed with an electric mixer until smoother. Add strawberries; beat at low speed until blended. Transfer to a large bowl. Beat ¾ cup whipping cream at high speed until soft peaks form; gently fold whipped cream into strawberry mixture. Spoon into prepared crust. Cover and freeze 8-12 hours until firm.
Health Works Here Podcast: How to Boost Your Immune System with Food
In this podcast episode, Liz Berman, RDN is a registered dietitian nutritionist with Acton Medical Associates, an adult and pediatric primary care practice affiliated with Emerson Hospital.
Subscribe to the Health Works Here Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts and wherever podcasts can be heard.
About the Author
Kaitlin (Kait) Schuster is a recent graduate of Noble & Greenough School in Dedham. She lives in Sudbury with her parents, sister, three cats, and a dog. She will be a freshman at Cornell University this fall.