food of the week
who we are - what's new - getting started - community
The World's Healthiest Foods
eating healthy

Eating Healthy
WHFoods List A-Z
Important Q&A's
Essential Nutrients
Food Advisor
All About Organic Foods
Ask George Your Questions


Cooking Healthy
WHFoods Kitchen
Seasonal Eating
Over 100 Recipes
In Home Cooking Demo


Feeling Great
Feeling Great Menu
Healthy Way of Eating
How Foods Help You Stay Healthy
For the Entire Family
Eating Right for Your Disease
About Popular Diets
Meal Planning for Health Conditions


Community
Who We Are
What's New
Getting Started
Contact Us
Send to a Friend
Rating Questionnaire
Free Weekly Bulletin
Send Us A Favorite Recipe
Strawberries

The fragrantly sweet juiciness and deep red color of strawberries can brighten up both the taste and aesthetics of any meal; it is no wonder they are the most popular berry fruit in the world. Although strawberries have become increasingly available year-round, they are at the peak of their season from April through July when they are the most delicious and most abundant.

While there are more than 600 varieties of strawberries that differ in flavor, size and texture, one can usually identify a strawberry by its red flesh that has yellow seeds piercing its surface, and the small, regal, green leafy cap and stem that adorn its crown. In addition to strawberries that are cultivated, there are also varieties that grow wild. These are much smaller in size, but feature a more intense flavor.


Health Benefits

Strawberries not only look like a fruity heart-shaped valentine, they are filled with unusual phytonutrients that love to promote your health.

Potent Antioxidant Protection from Phenols

Strawberries, like other berries, are famous in the phytonutrient world as a rich surce of phenols. In the strawberry, these phenols are led by the anthocyanins (especially anthocyanin 2) and by the ellagitannins. The anthocyanins in strawberry not only provide its flush red color, they also serve as potent antioxidants that have repeatedly been shown to help protect cell structures in the body and to prevent oxygen damage in all of the body’s organ systems. Strawberries' unique phenol content makes them a heart-protective fruit, an anti-cancer fruit, and an anti-inflammatory fruit, all rolled into one. The anti-inflammatory properties of strawberry include the ability of phenols in this fruit to lessen activity of the enzyme cyclo-oxygenase, or COX. Non-steriodal anti-inflamatory drugs like aspirin or ibuprofen block pain by blocking this enzyme, whose overactivity has been shown to contribute to unwanted inflammation, such as that which is involved in rheumatoid and osteoarthritis, asthma, atherosclerosis, and cancer. Unlike drugs that are COX-inhibitors, however, strawberries do not cause intestinal bleeding.

Anti-Cancer Compounds

The ellagitannin content of strawberries has actually been associated with decreased rates of cancer death. In one study, strawberries topped a list of eight foods most linked to lower rates of cancer deaths among a group of 1,271 elderly people in New Jersey. Those eating the most strawberries were three times less likely to develop cancer compared to those eating few or no strawberries.

A study published in the November 2003 issue of the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry analyzed eight strawberry cultivars for their content of protective plant compounds (phenols, flavonoics and anthocyanins) and their antioxidant capacities. Although the various cultivars differed significantly in the amounts of the various beneficial compounds each contained, all cultivars (Earliglow, Annapolis, Evangeline, Allstar, Sable, Sparkle, Jewel, and Mesabi) were able to significantly inhibit the proliferation of human liver cancer cells. nterestingly, no relationship was found between a cultivar’s antioxidant content and its ability to inhibit cancer cell proliferation, which suggests that this beneficial effect of strawberries is caused by other actions of their many beneficial compounds. (January 2, 2004)

A Smarter Brain with Strawberries

In animal studies, researchers have found that strawberries help protect the brain from oxidative stress and may reduce the effects of age-related related declines in brain function. Researchers found that feeding aging rats strawberry-rich diets significantly improved both their learning capacity and motor skills.

In terms of traditional nutrients, strawberries emerged from our food ranking system as an excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin K and manganese. They also qualified as a very good source of dietary fiber and iodine as well as a good source of potassium, folate, riboflavin, vitamin B5, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B6, magnesium, and copper.

Protection against Macular Degeneration

Your mother may have told you carrots would keep your eyes bright as a child, but as an adult, it looks like fruit is even more important for keeping your sight. Data reported in a study published in the June 2004 issue of the Archives of Opthamology indicates that eating 3 or more servings of fruit per day may lower your risk of age-related macular degeneration (ARMD), the primary cause of vision loss in older adults, by 36%, compared to persons who consume less than 1.5 servings of fruit daily.

In this study, which involved 77,562 women and 40,866 men, researchers evaluated the effect of study participants' consumption of fruits; vegetables; the antioxidant vitamins A, C, and E; and carotenoids on the development of early ARMD or neovascular ARM, a more severe form of the illness associated with vision loss. Food intake information was collected periodically for up to 18 years for women and 12 years for men. While, surprisingly, intakes of vegetables, antioxidant vitamins and carotenoids were not strongly related to incidence of either form of ARM, fruit intake was definitely protective against the severe form of this vision-destroying disease. Three servings of fruit may sound like a lot to eat each day, but strawberries can help you reach this goal. Top your morning cereal, lunch time yogurt or cottage cheese with fresh strawberries. Dress up any green salad with sliced strawberries, slivered almonds and a splash of balsamic vinegar. For an easy, elegant dessert, blend fresh or frozen strawberries with a spoonful of honey and some soy or cow's milk or yogurt. Freeze for 20 minutes, then spoon into serving cups and decorate with a sprig of mint.(July 10, 2004)

Protection against Rheumatoid Arthritis

While one July 2004 study suggests that high doses of supplemental vitamin C makes osteoarthritis, a type of degenerative arthritis that occurs with aging, worse in guinea pigs, another indicates that vitamin C-rich foods, such as strawberries, provide humans with protection against inflammatory polyarthritis, a form of rheumatoid arthritis involving two or more joints.

The findings, presented in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases were drawn from a study of more than 20,000 subjects who kept diet diaries and were arthritis-free when the study began, and focused on 73 subjects who developed inflammatory polyarthritis and 146 similar subjects who remained arthritis-free during follow-up between 1993 and 2001. Subjects who consumed the lowest amounts of vitamin C-rich foods were more than three times more likely to develop arthritis than those who consumed the highest amounts.

Description

The strawberry, a fruit that features a fragrantly sweet flavor, is the most popular type of berry fruit in the world. While there are more than 600 varieties of strawberries that differ in flavor, size and texture, one can usually identify a strawberry by its red flesh that has yellow seeds piercing its surface, and the small, regal, green leafy cap and stem that adorn its crown. In addition to strawberries that are cultivated, there are also varieties that grow wild. These are much smaller in size, but feature a more intense flavor.

The most common scientific names for strawberry are Fragaria virginiana and Fragaria chilioensis.

History

Strawberries have grown wild for millennia in temperature regions throughout the world. They began being cultivated sometime before the Christian era and were highly prized by many ancient Romans. Yet, after the fall of Rome, they seemed to have lost their favor until they reemerged in Europe in the Middle Ages. During this time, they began to be prized again, more so for their medicinal qualities than for their culinary value. Cultivation techniques of the European varieties, which were much smaller than the American varieties, were advanced at this time, although the resulting fruits were not as sweet and fragrant as the strawberries of today, and therefore, they did not readily gain widespread popularity.

It was not until the 18th century, when coincidence and the workings of Nature’s mysteries coincided, that strawberries developed into the luscious fruit we know them to be and began to be more widely appreciated. In 1714, a French engineer sent to Chile and Peru to monitor Spanish activities in these countries “discovered” a strawberry native to this region that was much larger than those grown in Europe. He brought many samples back to France, which were subsequently planted. These plants did not originally flourish well until a natural crossbreeding occurred between this species and a neighboring North American strawberry variety that was planted nearby in the field. The result was a hybrid strawberry that was large, juicy and sweet, and one that quickly grew in popularity in Europe.

The strawberry, like many other perishable fruits at this time, remained a luxury item only enjoyed by the wealthy until the mid-19th century. Once railways were built and more rapid means of transportation established, strawberries were able to be shipped longer distances and were able to be enjoyed by more people. The strawberry is now the most popular berry fruit in the world. Currently, the United States, Canada, France, Italy, Japan, Australia and New Zealand are among the largest commercial producers of strawberries.

How to Select and Store

As strawberries are very perishable, they should only be purchased a few days prior to use. Choose berries that are firm, plump, free of mold, and which have a shiny, deep red color and attached green caps. Since strawberries, once picked, do not ripen further, avoid those that are dull in color or have green or yellow patches since they are likely to be sour and of inferior quality. Medium-sized strawberries are often more flavorful than those that are excessively large. If you are buying strawberries prepackaged in a container, make sure that they are not packed too tightly (which may cause them to become crushed and damaged) and that the container has no signs of stains or moisture, indication of possible spoilage. Strawberries are usually available year round, although in greatest abundance from the spring through the mid-summer.

Like all berries, strawberries are very perishable, so great care should be taken in their handling and storage. Before storing in the refrigerator, remove any strawberries that are molded or damaged so that they will not contaminate others. Replace unwashed and unhulled berries in their original container or spread them out on a plate covered with a paper towel, then cover with plastic wrap. Strawberries will keep fresh in the refrigerator for one or two days. Make sure not to leave strawberries at room temperature or exposed to sunlight for too long, as this will cause them to spoil.

To freeze strawberries, first gently wash them and pat them dry. You can either remove the cap and stem or leave them intact, depending upon what you will do with them once they are thawed. Arrange them in a single layer on a flat pan or cookie sheet and place them in the freezer. Once frozen, transfer the berries to a heavy plastic bag and return them to the freezer where they will keep for up to one year. Adding a bit of lemon juice to the berries will help to preserve their color. While strawberries can be frozen whole, cut or crushed, they will retain a higher level of their vitamin C content if left whole.

How to Enjoy

For some of our favorite recipes, click Recipes.

Tips for Preparing Strawberries:

Since they are very perishable, strawberries should not be washed until right before eating or using in a recipe. Do not remove their caps and stems until after you have gently washed the berries under cold running water and patted them dry. This will prevent them from absorbing excess water, which can degrade strawberries' texture and flavor. To remove the stems, caps and white hull, simply pinch these off with your fingers or use a paring knife.

A Few Quick Serving Ideas:

Add sliced strawberries to mixed green salad.

Layer sliced strawberries, whole blueberries and plain yogurt in a wine glass to make a parfait dessert.

Mix chopped strawberries with cinnamon, lemon juice and maple syrup and serve as a topping for waffles and pancakes.

Blend strawberries with a little bit of orange juice and use as a refreshing coulis sauce that goes well with poached pears.

Add strawberries to breakfast shakes to give them a more vibrant taste and texture.

Safety

Allergic Reactions to Strawberries

Although allergic reactions can occur to virtually any food, research studies on food allergy consistently report more problems with some foods than with others. Common symptoms associated with an allergic reaction to food include: chronic gastrointestinal disturbances; frequent infections, e.g. ear infections, bladder infections, bed-wetting; asthma, sinusitis; eczema, skin rash, acne, hives; bursitis, joint pain; fatigue, headache, migraine; hyperactivity, depression, insomnia.

Individuals who suspect food allergy to be an underlying factor in their health problems may want to avoid commonly allergenic foods. Strawberries are one of the foods most commonly associated with allergic reactions. Other foods commonly associated with allergic reactions include: cow's milk, wheat, soy, shrimp, oranges, eggs, chicken, tomato, spinach, peanuts, pork, corn and beef. These foods do not need to be eaten in their pure, isolated form in order to trigger an adverse reaction. For example, yogurt made from cow’s milk is also a common allergenic food, even though the cow’s milk has been processed and fermented in order to make the yogurt. Ice cream made from cow’s milk would be an equally good example.

Strawberries and Pesticide Residues

Virtually all municipal drinking water in the United States contains pesticide residues, and with the exception of organic foods, so do the majority of foods in the U.S. food supply. Even though pesticides are present in food at very small trace levels, their negative impact on health is well documented. The liver’s ability to process other toxins, the cells’ ability to produce energy, and the nerves’ ability to send messages can all be compromised by pesticide exposure. According to the Envirionmental Working Group's 2003 report "Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce", strawberries are among the 12 foods on which pesticide residues have been most frequently found. Therefore, individuals wanting to avoid pesticide-associated health risks may want to avoid consumption of strawberries unless they are grown organically.

Strawberries and Oxalates

Strawberries are among a small number of foods that contain any measurable amount of oxalates, naturally-occurring substances found in plants, animals, and human beings. When oxalates become too concentrated in body fluids, they can crystallize and cause health problems. For this reason, individuals with already existing and untreated kidney or gallbladder problems may want to avoid eating strawberries. Oxalates may also interfere with absorption of calcium from the body. For this reason, individuals trying to increase their calcium stores may want to avoid strawberries, or if taking calcium supplements, may want to eat strawberries 2-3 hours before or after taking their supplements.

Strawberries and Goitrogens

Strawberries contains goitrogens, naturally-occurring substances in certain foods that can interfere with the functioning of the thyroid gland. Individuals with already existing and untreated thyroid problems may want to avoid strawberries for this reason. Cooking may help to inactivate the goitrogenic compounds found in food. However, it is not clear from the research exactly what percent of goitrogenic compounds get inactivated by cooking, or exactly how much risk is involved with the consumption of strawberries by individuals with pre-existing and untreated thyroid problems.

Nutritional Profile

Introduction to Food Rating System Chart

The following chart shows the nutrients for which this food is either an excellent, very good or good source. Next to the nutrient name you will find the following information: the amount of the nutrient that is included in the noted serving of this food; the %Daily Value (DV) that that amount represents (similar to other information presented in the website, this DV is calculated for 25-50 year old healthy woman); the nutrient density rating; and, the food's World's Healthiest Foods Rating. Underneath the chart is a table that summarizes how the ratings were devised. Read detailed information on our Food and Recipe Rating System.

Strawberries, Fresh
1.00 cup
43.20 calories
Nutrient Amount DV
(%)
Nutrient
Density
World's Healthiest
Foods Rating
vitamin C 81.65 mg 136.1 56.7 excellent
vitamin K 20.16 mcg 25.2 10.5 excellent
manganese 0.42 mg 21.0 8.8 excellent
dietary fiber 3.31 g 13.2 5.5 very good
iodine 12.96 mcg 8.6 3.6 very good
potassium 239.04 mg 6.8 2.8 good
folate 25.49 mcg 6.4 2.7 good
vitamin B2 (riboflavin) 0.10 mg 5.9 2.5 good
vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) 0.49 mg 4.9 2.0 good
omega 3 fatty acids 0.11 g 4.4 1.8 good
vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) 0.08 mg 4.0 1.7 good
magnesium 14.40 mg 3.6 1.5 good
copper 0.07 mg 3.5 1.5 good
World's Healthiest
Foods Rating
Rule
excellent DV>=75% OR Density>=7.6 AND DV>=10%
very good DV>=50% OR Density>=3.4 AND DV>=5%
good DV>=25% OR Density>=1.5 AND DV>=2.5%

In Depth Nutritional Profile for Strawberries

References

  • Caldwell CR. A device for the semiautomatic determination of oxygen-radical absorbance capacity. Anal Biochem 2000 Dec 15;287(2):226-33.
  • Cho E, Seddon JM, Rosner B, Willett WC, Hankinson SE. Prospective study of intake of fruits, vegetables, vitamins, and carotenoids and risk of age-related maculopathy. Arch Ophthalmol. 2004 Jun;122(6):883-92.
  • Ensminger AH, Ensminger, ME, Kondale JE, Robson JRK. Foods & Nutriton Encyclopedia. Pegus Press, Clovis, California.
  • Ensminger AH, Esminger M. K. J. e. al. Food for Health: A Nutrition Encyclopedia. Clovis, California: Pegus Press; 1986.
  • Fortin, Francois, Editorial Director. The Visual Foods Encyclopedia. Macmillan, New York.
  • Joseph JA, Shukitt-Hale B, Denisova NA et al. Long-term dietary strawberry, spinach or vitamin E supplementation retards the onset of age-related neuronal signal-transduction and cognitive behavioral deficits. J Neurosci 1998 Oct 1;18(19):8047-55.
  • Joseph JA, Shukitt-Hale B, Denisova NA, et al. Reversals of age-related declines in neuronal signal transduction, cognitive, and motor behavioral deficits with blueberry, spinach, or strawberry dietary supplementation. J Neurosci 1999 Sep 15;19(18):8114-21.
  • Kahkonen MP, Hopia AI, Heinonen M. Berry phenolics and their antioxidant activity. J Agric Food Chem 2001 Aug;49(8):4076-82.
  • Kalt W, Forney CF, Martin A, Prior RL. Antioxidant capacity, vitamin C, phenolics, and anthocyanins after fresh storage of small fruits. J Agric Food Chem 1999 Nov;47(11):4638-44.
  • Meyers KJ, Watkins CB, Pritts MP, Liu RH. Antioxidant and antiproliferative activities of strawberries. J Agric Food Chem. 2003 Nov 5;51(23):6887-92.
  • Pattison DJ, Silman AJ, Goodson NJ, Lunt M, Bunn D, Luben R, Welch A, Bingham S, Khaw KT, Day N, Symmons DP. Vitamin C and the risk of developing inflammatory polyarthritis: prospective nested case-control study. Ann Rheum Dis. 2004 Jul;63(7):843-7.
  • Wood, Rebecca. The Whole Foods Encyclopedia. New York, NY: Prentice-Hall Press; 1988.
  • Zhang W, Jin MF, Yu XJ, Yuan Q. Enhanced anthocyanin production by repeated-batch culture of strawberry cells with medium shift. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol 2001 Mar;55(2):164-9.

More of the World's Healthiest Foods (& Spices)!


Send us your favorite recipes using the World's Healthiest Foods, so we can share them with others!

Search this site:

Privacy Policy and Visitor Agreement

For education only, consult a healthcare practitioner for any health problems.


home | who we are | site map | what's new | privacy policy and visitor agreement
2002-2005 The George Mateljan Foundation