Strawberries are one of world’s most popular berries… so it’s no wonder why we’ve picked strawberries to talk about this week. Though strawberries are grown in many regions of the world, including Europe, Asia, and North America, the United States is the world’s largest commercial producer of strawberries. The U.S. produces about 3 billion pounds per year.
Strawberry season starts in late spring, early summer time and continues through the months of June, July, August, and September. I know we’re a bit early as the beginning of June is in a little over a week, but it’s okay… we’re just getting you ready for strawberry season!
Strawberries are super high in vitamin C. In 1 cup of strawberries, there is over 100% of the daily recommended intake of vitamin C. They also are high in antioxidant content, not only including vitamin C, but also polyphenol antioxidants, like flavonoids, phenolic acids, lignans, tannins, and stilbenes. These antioxidants all contain anti-inflammatory properties to promote good health.
Not surprisingly, the rich antioxidants in strawberries also help to promote cardiovascular, or heart, health. I’m going to get a little sciencey here, but in particular, research has focused on the activity of an enzyme called paraoxonase-1 (PON-1) which helps to break down lipid peroxidation. Lipid peroxidation is basically when harmful free radicals alter the lipids, or fat, in our body’s cells. This then results in an increased risk of damage to the blood vessels. Because of this enzyme found in strawberries, eating strawberries can help to prevent this damage being done to our blood vessels.
Not only do strawberries help our heart, they can also help folks with diabetes and prediabetes. Strawberries have a low glycemic index (GI). Their GI value is 40, while to be considered a low GI food, the value must be 55 or less. Lower GI values mean that the food is more slowly digested, absorbed, and metabolized. When this happens, the food causes a lower and slower rise in blood sugar and insulin levels. Who knew that strawberries had such a low impact on blood sugar? To top it all off, in a 1 cup of serving of whole strawberries, there’s only 47 calories, making strawberries a naturally sweet treat that’s also low in calories!