What are strawberries?
The strawberry, Fragaria, is a member of the rose (rosaceae) family, and one of the most popular berry fruits in the world. There are more than 10 species of Fragaria that differ in flavour, size and texture, yet they all have the same characteristic heart shape and red seeded flesh. Strawberries are not actually fruits, as they carry their seeds on the outside and develop runners, which produce roots that go on to create clone plants. About seven fresh berries count as one of your five-a-day.
Strawberry health benefits may include:
1. Low in calories compared to other fruits
2. Could help prevent inflammatory conditions, like heart disease
3. A source of heart-friendly nutrients which may help manage blood pressure
4. Slow down digestion of glucose
5. Help manage some of the effects of type-2 diabetes
6. May prevent certain cancers
7. Useful for weight management as they're low-GI
8. Contain flavonoids which may slow age-related memory loss
9. Alleviate pain from conditions like osteoarthritis
10. Fuel beneficial bacteria in the gut
Discover our full range of health benefit guides or check out how to grow your own strawberries. Get inspired by our strawberry recipe collection and learn about some of our favourite ways to eat strawberries.
Nutritional benefits of strawberries
An 80g serving of strawberries provides:
- 0.5g protein
- 0.4g fat
- 4.9g carbohydrates
- 13.0g fibre
- 136mg potassium
- 49mcg folate
- 46mg vit C
What are the 10 top health benefits of strawberries?
1. Low in calories
Strawberries are low in calories, yet sweet tasting, so they work well as a healthy alternative to treats and puddings. One serving (80g) provides just 24kcal.
2. May support heart health
Strawberries are rich in colourful pigments that have a protective effect – these anthocyanidins are thought to have a number of potential health benefits, including prevention of inflammatory conditions and heart disease. Observational studies appear to link regular berry consumption with fewer heart-related deaths.
3. May help manage blood pressure
As a source of heart-friendly nutrients, including potassium, folate and vitamin C, strawberries may help manage blood pressure.
4. May regulate blood sugar
Consuming strawberries appears to slow down our digestion of glucose and moderates our use of insulin, especially when they are eaten with a high-carb meal. It’s the colourful anthocyanins which appears to action this effect.
5. May be helpful for those with type-2 diabetes
Strawberries contain protective plant compounds called polyphenols, two of which – ellagic acid and ellagitannins – have shown promise in helping to manage some of the effects of type-2 diabetes. In particular, they appear to regulate blood sugar, however, more research is needed to validate these effects in humans.
6. May be cancer protective
Studies suggest that strawberries may prevent certain cancers. The protective effect is thought to be thanks to a combination of polyphenols including ellagic acid and ellagitannins, which appear to halt the growth of cancer cells in animal studies. More human studies are needed to establish the correct method of action and to confirm the effects.
7. May help weight management
Strawberries have a low glycaemic index (GI) and as such help moderate blood sugar release. Studies suggest that a diet with plenty of low-GI foods may be beneficial for weight management and for reducing the incidence of obesity-related diseases.
8. May support brain function
9. May alleviate joint pain
The anti-inflammatory effects of strawberries may alleviate the pain of joint conditions like osteoarthritis. One study reported a reduction in pain and inflammation in obese adults who consumed a 50g drink prepared from freeze-dried strawberries daily for 12 weeks.
10. May support gut health
Strawberries are a rich source of polyphenols and fibre, both of which have prebiotic properties which means they provide a fuel source for the beneficial bacteria that live in your gut. By regularly including strawberries in the diet you may promote an increase in the beneficial Bifidobacteria.
Are strawberries safe for everyone to eat?
Although most of us can enjoy strawberries without a problem, they are a common allergen, especially for young children. If you have allergies to birch pollen or apples, you are more likely to develop a secondary food allergy to strawberries. If this is relevant, you should avoid strawberries.
Strawberries, along with fruits including apples, peaches, avocados and blueberries contain natural chemicals called salicylates. Some people are sensitive to these compounds and may experience an allergic reaction including skin rash and swelling.
Strawberries also contain goitrogens, compounds which may interfere with thyroid function, so those with a thyroid condition should minimise their intake. Lastly strawberries are high in histamine, this means those with a histamine intolerance may need to moderate their intake.
Overall, are strawberries good for you?
Sweet and juicy strawberries bring a lot to the table. They contain compounds which have a protective effect and may reduce the growth of cancer cells, as well as reducing the risk of anti-inflammatory diseases, such as heart disease. They are sweet but low-GI and low in calories. Instead of spiking blood sugar levels, strawberries could help to slow down the digestion of glucose and reduce insulin spikes, making them a healthy choice for those with type-2 diabetes.
If you are concerned about food allergies or have any other concerns, please consult your GP or registered dietician for guidance.
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Kerry Torrens is a qualified Nutritionist (MBANT) with a postgraduate diploma in personalised nutrition & nutritional therapy. She is a member of the British Association for Nutrition and Lifestyle Medicine (BANT) and a member of the Guild of Food Writers. Over the last two decades she has been a contributing author to a number of nutritional and cookery publications including BBC Good Food.
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