THE FOOD SERIES: Strawberries

GUESS WHAT IS FINALLY IN SEASON!? The refreshingly delicious and vibrant strawberries! Can you sense my excitement? Looking at the photo already gets my mouth watering.

DESCRIPTION:

Strawberries belong to the same family as other berries including blackberries, boysenberries, loganberries and raspberries. They are part of the rose family with over 100 different varieties of strawberries grown just commercially worldwide, while there are 600 total varieties! The strawberries we are most familiar with and the ones we normally see in stores for purchase are part of the genus Fragaria. As the name so accurately suggest the strawberry’s aroma and fragrance comes from volatile substances including esters, alcohols and furanones.

When selecting strawberries, choose ones that are firm, plump, and free of mold. The colour should be shiny and a deep red. Strawberries do not continue to ripen once picked, so if you are purchasing pre-picked strawberries, avoid those that have unripe green/yellow patches as they will not provide the sweet, rich taste you normally would get with ripe strawberries. It is also best to avoid overly ripe strawberries, so strawberries that are dull, soft and even mushy.

It is also very important to purchase organic and as local and in season strawberries as possible. This is because strawberries TOP the dirty dozen list. This means out of 48 popular fruits and vegetables, strawberries ranks the highest on pesticide contamination! No, even after properly washed, peeled, and prepared, it does not  reduce and get rid of the toxic pesticides. 

PRODUCTION:

Its versatility and adaptability have allowed them to flourish in both wild and cultivated ways. Strawberries are consumed around the world, being native to temperate regions such as Europe, Asia, North America, and the bottom half of South America. The United States leads in production, followed by Turkey, Spain and Egypt.

NUTRITIONAL PROFILE:

1 cup of strawberry halves:

48.8 kcal
11.7 g carbs
3.0 g fiber
0.5 g fat
1.0 g protein
89.4 mg Vitamin C
0.6 mg manganese

If you’ve been following with my Food Series posts, you should not be surprised to know that pretty much all fruits and vegetables are high in antioxidants and offer anti-inflammatory benefits as well. Strawberries are no different, it is rich in phytonutrients and are extremely high in Vitamin C (and vitamin C is one of those important antioxidant vitamins). Strawberries however contain many other antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrients beyond just vitamin C. For example, manganese is another nutrient that plays a huge role in providing antioxidant benefits. As a result, consuming strawberries will help fight free radicals in the body and help reduce the risk of diseases, illnesses, or other conditions; particularly ones related to inflammation or oxidation of molecules in the body such as cancer.

Providing antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits also often brings with cardiovascular benefits as well. More specifically, research on the antioxidant content of strawberries has shown decreases in lipid per oxidation in our blood vessel linings following the consumption of strawberries.

Beyond these benefits, strawberries are also a good source of fibre which can thus help with regulating blood sugar and insulin levels; and thus great for reducing the risk of diabetes.

Throughout history, strawberries have been used to help with digestion, teeth whitening and even skin irritations!

WAYS TO ENJOY

Because strawberries are quite accessible and available worldwide there are an incredible amount of simple and very unique ways to enjoy and incorporate strawberries into your diet. I personally love buying strawberries in flats or u-picking them in large batches, then freezing them so I will have frozen strawberries for the rest of the year. From there you can use the frozen strawberries as toppings on bowls such as banana ice cream, smoothie bowls, acai bowls, oatmeal, porridge, you name it! Otherwise, frozen strawberries is an amazing ingredient in any smoothie.

Here are some other recipes you may want to try! (yes I do realize, they are all desserts/sweets… but what can I say, I got a sweet tooth.)

FUN FACTS

  • There are an average of 200 seeds on a strawberry.
  • Strawberries are the only fruit that wear their seeds on the outside.
  • Although it has ‘berry’ in its name, they are technically not true berries. (Berries technically have the seeds on the inside).
  • Strawberry plants will grow back year after year, this is called a perennial.
  • Although you can grow strawberries with the seeds, it is mostly grown and produce through runners.
  • Strawberries are grown in every U.S. state and Canadian province.
  • The leaves of strawberries can also be eaten raw or cooked, or used to make tea.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES / REFERENCES 

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