Summer is almost here… and with it, some of our favorite fresh fruits and vegetables! Just in case you forgot, the month of June is the perfect time to enjoy ripe, red strawberries. Take advantage of pick- your-own options or stop by your local supermarket or farmer’s market and bring some home. The nutrients and health benefits of strawberries are plentiful. Many thanks to Kristin Tallodi, UMH Dietetic Intern (University of Saint Joseph, Class of 2016) for sharing a few of them with us in this article.
Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin with potent antioxidant capabilities essential for many biological functions, most notably ensuring proper wound healing and maintaining cartilage. One serving of eight medium strawberries provides 160 percent of the recommended Daily Value.
Potassium is an important nutrient to balance electrolytes, aid muscle contractions, and maintain a healthy blood pressure. Diets rich in potassium can lower blood pressure by buffering the effects of sodium on blood pressure. According to the Food and Drug Administration, eating foods rich in potassium and low in sodium may help reduce the risk of high blood pressure and stroke. One serving of strawberries provides five percent of the Daily Value for potassium.
Folate is one of the B vitamins found in various foods such as strawberries, oranges, green leafy vegetables, and beans. It may prevent some types of birth defects and is especially important for women of childbearing age. Researchers reported that people who eat strawberries have higher average folate intakes than those who reported not eating strawberries.
Fiber is considered by the American Heart Association to be important for heart health. Epidemiological studies report that people who eat higher amounts of total fiber have a lower risk of heart disease. Dietary fiber has well-known health benefits such as lowering blood cholesterol and promoting a healthy digestive system. One serving, or eight medium strawberries, provides three grams of fiber, making this fruit a good source of dietary fiber.
Antioxidants are key to warding off chronic diseases and promoting optimum health. Research shows that the antioxidants in strawberries are efficiently absorbed within one hour after being eaten. Once absorbed, antioxidants fight free radical compounds that can cause chronic illnesses. In a recent study, strawberries ranked second among the top ten fruits in antioxidant capacity (TAC), which is one reason why they may help prevent cancer and heart disease.
Polyphenols In addition to traditional nutrients, strawberries are also rich in phenolic compounds such as flavonoids and ellagic acid, which are the focus of intense study due to their antioxidant, anticancer, and antimutagenic properties. Polyphenols help protect and repair cells. The majority of flavonoids in strawberries are anthocyanins, the compounds responsible for the blue, red and purple hues of berries, grapes, and other fruits.
I work as the Registered Dietician for United Methodist Homes and have been part of the UMH Team for over six years. By promoting health and wellness, initiating fitness programs, and providing dietary advice to residents, their families, and our staff, I am on a mission to create a culture of healthy living in all of our communities.
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