The Health Benefits of Strawberries

June 10, 2008

strawberriesStrawberries are a fragrant, red-coloured, ground-dwelling fruit. Their history dates back over 2,000 years with records showing a variety of breeds as a native in many parts of the world.

In the early eighteenth century a strawberry hybrid was created that took its size from a South American variety and its taste and fragrance from France.  This created what it is known today as the common strawberry that is preferred throughout Europe.  
The strawberry is often described as a luxury item, enjoyed by royalty. France’s King Charles V had over 3000 planted at the Louvre in Paris, King Louis XIII ate them everyday; and both Louis XIII and Louis XIV the latter enjoyed the berries so much that they are recorded to have eaten them to the point of indigestion! 

The use of strawberries and of the strawberry plant itself for therapeutic purposes dates back as long as they have been eaten. American Indians prepared infusions of strawberry plant leaves as a treatment for stomach pain and gastrointestinal ailments such as diarrhoea. Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus was convinced that strawberries had miraculously healed his severe attack of gout; and the French philosopher Bernard de Fontenelle, who died at the age of 100 attributed the secret of his longevity to strawberries. 

Strawberries also contain a large amount of antioxidant, anticancer, anti-neurodegenerative, and anti-inflammatory properties, making them, like many other berries, very useful as a natural alternative to western medicine.

Health Benefits of Strawberries

Nutrients in Strawberries

Strawberries are an excellent source of dietary fiber and Vitamins C and K. They are a very good source of manganese, pantothenic acid, vitamin B1, and iodine. They are a good source of folic acid, biotin, and vitamin B6. Strawberries contain high levels of antioxidants, which can decrease the risk of chronic disease.

A comprehensive breakdown of protein, carbohydrate, fat, vitamin and mineral content presented in an easy to read pie chart can be found in our Nutrition Database where this food can also be added to a meal planner.

Cancer Prevention

Ellagic acid is present in many red fruits and berries, including raspberries, strawberries, blackberries and cranberries. Studies have shown that strawberry consumption can increase anti-cancer activity on cancer cells of the breast, oesophagus, skin, colon, prostate and pancreas. More specifically, ellagic acid prevents the destruction of P53 gene by cancer cells. Ellagic acid can also bind with cancer causing molecules, thereby making them inactive. Strawberries have also been shown to significantly reduce liver cancer cells.

Alzheimer’s Disease Prevention

In addition to their known beneficial effects on cancer and heart disease, the antioxidant qualities of strawberries may also be beneficial in reversing the course of neuronal and behavioural aging. Due to their positive effects against anti-neurodegenerative diseases, strawberries are helpful in slowing the onset and reduce the effects of Alzheimer’s disease.

Cardiovascular Health

Strawberries have also been linked with effecting blood vessels, platelets and lipoproteins positively, which can reduce the risk of coronary heart diseases.

Anti Inflammatory

Strawberry extracts have also been shown to inhibit COX enzymes in vitro, which inhibits the inflammatory process.

Glycemic Index (GI) of Strawberries

In a study to determine the estimated GI of various foods, it was concluded that strawberries have a low GI of 40.

Moderate amounts of oxalates exist in strawberries and individuals with a history of oxalate forming kidney stones should limit their intake of this fruit.References:
1. The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods by Michael Murray, Joseph Pizzorno, and Lara Pizzorno.
2. Benders’ Dictionary of Nutrition and Food Technology.
3. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference.
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