Superfoods: The raw power of strawberries
Aside from longer days and warmer temperatures, strawberries are one of the first signs of spring. The season starts to peak in mid April and runs until late June. And while there's no denying that the bright red berry is a popular fruit, not everyone realises what a healthy punch they pack. We break down all you need to know about this humble and delicious superfood.
Strawberries, also known as Fragaria, are one of the popular berry fruits in the world and are grown primarily in the United States, New Zealand, Japan, Australia, Italy, and Canada. There are over six hundred varieties of strawberry, all of which have the same characteristic heart-shaped, red flesh and seeded coat together with small, regal, leafy green caps and stems. Strawberries are not actually fruits as their seeds are on the outside, and they are actually a member of the rose (rosaceae) family. Wild strawberries have been popular since ancient Roman times and were used for a wide variety of medicinal purposes such as alleviating inflammation, fever and kidney stones.
Strawberries are an excellent source of vitamins C and K as well as providing a good dose of fibre, folic acid, manganese and potassium. Studies have shown that their fibre and fructose content may help regulate blood sugar levels by slowing digestion and the fibre is thought to have a satiating effect. According to HealthLine, strawberries have a glymaemic index rating of 41, meaning they can satisfy your sweet tooth without negatively affecting your blood sugar levels. Further, the vibrant red colour of strawberries is due to large amounts of anthocyanidin, which also means they contain powerful antioxidants and are thought to protect against inflammation, cancer and heart disease. They also contain malic acid which helps brighten and whiten tooth enamel. Another reason to eat these berries as a treat!
A cup of sliced strawberries contains only 53 calories and around 3.3 grams of fibre. However, Britain's NHS recommends one portion should consist of around seven strawberries.
How to select and store
Choose berries that are firm, plump, and unblemished. Look for those that have a shiny, deep red colour and bright green caps attached. Once picked, strawberries do not ripen further so avoid those that are dull, or have green or yellow patches. Wash and handle them with care and bring to room temperature before serving.
It may come as a surprise to learn that strawberries are a common allergen. The NHS advises that if you have allergies to birch pollen, you are more likely to develop a secondary food allergy to strawberries. Most common symptoms are experienced in the mouth and throat - tingling, itching, watery eyes and runny nose. If you are concerned about food allergies consult your doctor before consuming.