The strawberry season has begun! These delicious and juicy fruits are a source of many vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and … culinary pleasures. Interestingly, there are over 600 species of strawberries!
What are their health benefits?
What can strawberries do?
We know that strawberries are a delicious summer fruit. Why is it good to eat them?
- They help to regulate blood pressure
Strawberries contain a lot of potassium, which helps balance the effects of sodium in the body. It is believed that just a lack of potassium in the diet, contributes to the risk of developing hypertension.
Some experts recommend supplying 4,700 mg of potassium per day.
- They are diabetic friendly
Thanks to its fiber content, strawberries help regulate blood sugar levels. Digested carbohydrates are broken down into simple sugars and released into the bloodstream. That’s when insulin is released, which causes cells to take up glucose from the bloodstream to use it to produce energy.
Strawberries can slow down glucose digestion and reduce fluctuations in glucose levels (along with insulin) after a high carbohydrate meal. This is great news because such disorders can contribute to the development of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.
In addition, fiber increases the feeling of satiety, thanks to which you feel full longer – so you rarely reach for snacks. Its presence will also help to avoid constipation.
- They take care of the heart
Strawberries are also a great source of beneficial plant compounds.
For example, a report from 2019 showed that anthocyanin found in strawberries is associated with a lower risk of a heart attack.
In turn, quercetin is a natural anti-inflammatory agent that can reduce the risk of atherosclerosis.
Fiber and potassium also affect the condition of the heart. As one study in 2011 showed, taking 4069 mg of potassium per day reduced the risk of death from coronary heart disease (compared to consuming about 1000 mg).
Berries can have a positive effect on platelet function and the level of “good” HDL and total cholesterol. Strawberries can also: reduce oxidative stress, improve blood antioxidant status, reduce inflammation, improve blood vascular function and blood lipid profile, and reduce the harmful oxidation of “bad” LDL cholesterol.
The effects of freeze-dried supplements have also been studied in overweight or obese people. After 4-12 weeks of supplementation, study participants had a decline in LDL levels, inflammatory markers, and oxidized LDL particles.
- They help to prevent stroke
As the 2016 meta-analysis showed, strawberries can moderately reduce the risk of stroke. This is due to the action of quercetin, kaempferol, and anthocyanin.
- They may prevent cancer
Many studies show that berries can help prevent some types of cancer, thanks to the ability to reduce oxidative stress and inflammation.
Strawberries are disclosed to inhibit tumor formation in animals with oral cancer and in human liver cancer cells.
Strawberries contain ellagitannins and ellagic acid, which have been shown to inhibit the growth of cancer cells. Strawberries are one of the best sources of phenolic antioxidants. It is estimated that there are 2 to 11 times more in these fruits than in others.
However, more research is needed to build clear conclusions about the impact of strawberries on cancer.
The nutritional value of strawberries – what else they hide
Strawberries consist of 91% water, 7.7% carbohydrates, 0.3% fat, and 0.7% protein.
The carbohydrate content of strawberries is therefore very low. For 100 g of fruit, it is less than 8 grams. Most of them are simple sugars: glucose, fructose, and sucrose. The glycemic index of strawberries is also quite low (40), which means that they usually do not cause rapid jumps in blood glucose levels.
Strawberries also contain a lot of fiber, which is about 26% of all strawberry carbohydrates. One serving of fruit (100 g) provides 2 g of soluble and insoluble fiber.
It is estimated that a glass of fresh, sliced strawberries (approx. 166 g) contains:
- 53 calories,
- 12,7 g carbohydrates,
- 3,3 g fiber,
- 1,1 g protein,
- 27 mg calcium,
- 0,68 mg iron,
- 22 mg magnesium,
- 40 mg phosphorus,
- 254 mg potassium,
- 97,6 mg vitamin C,
- 40 µg folic acid,
- 28 IU vitamin A.
Also: manganese and copper, as well as vitamins: B6, E, and K.
Side effects and precautions
The allergy to strawberries is quite common, especially in young children.
There is a protein, in these fruits, that can cause symptoms in people who are sensitive to birch pollen or to apples. These symptoms include itching or tingling in the mouth, hives, headache, swelling of the lips, face, tongue or throat, and in severe cases also difficulty breathing.
The allergy-causing protein is thought to be associated with strawberry anthocyanins. White, colorless strawberries do not usually cause allergic reactions.
Because of the high amount of potassium, strawberries should be eaten in moderation by those who take beta-blockers. These are medicines often used for heart disease or migraines and can increase the amount of potassium in the blood.
Too much potassium can be dangerous for people who have kidney problems. Insufficient filtering can lead to hyperkalemia, such as vomiting, palpitations, and breathing difficulties.