The strawberry is a red, juicy, conically-shaped fruit belonging to the rose family. In fact, technically, it is not a berry but an aggregate accessory fruit, composed of several small fruits, each with one seed known as achene. It is the only fruit whose seeds are visible from outside.
Strawberries are available in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors, ranging from deep red and pink to off white or yellowish. There are several varieties of strawberries such as the Virginia, Chilean and European Alpine strawberry. Generally the smaller varieties are sweeter and more flavorful than the larger ones which are often watery. Because of their delicious flavor and attractive appearance, strawberries are widely used in ice creams, mocktails, cakes, smoothies and other desserts. They also form a part of several recipes and salads.
Strawberry Benefits for Health:
Strawberry has been hailed as “the queen of fruits” because of its rich nutritional value which offers a range of health benefits as given below:
- Anti-inflammatory Properties:
The rich variety of antioxidants and phytochemicals in strawberries help fight inflammatory disorders like osteoarthritis, asthma, cancer and atherosclerosis. According to research conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health, strawberries can lower the blood levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) which is responsible for causing inflammation. It was observed that women who ate 16 or more strawberries per week were at a 14% less risk of having elevated levels of CRP.
- Cardiovascular Health:
Strawberries are great for heart health. They contain ellagic acid and flavonoids which improve heart health through their antioxidant effects. They also counteract the effects of low density lipoprotein or LDL (the bad cholesterol in our blood which causes plaque build-up in the arteries), thus lowering the risk of heart disease.
- Blood Pressure:
Strawberries contain potassium which regulates blood pressure and prevents high blood pressure by counteracting the negative effects of sodium.
4. Weight Loss:
Strawberries are low in sugar, calories and sodium, and fat-free. The natural sugars contained in strawberries are extremely low with 4 grams per serving. They also contain nitrates which promote blood flow and oxygen throughout the body, resulting in weight loss. Nitrates also prevent the muscles from becoming too tired after exercise.
5. Bone Health:
They contain potassium, magnesium and Vitamin K which are beneficial for bone health. It is shown to bring down bone loss and therefore prevents bone breakage that begins with age.
6. Eye Health:
Consumption of three or more servings of strawberries can lower the risk of macular degeneration, which results in vision loss. The antioxidant properties of strawberries help in preventing cataracts, a condition characterized by clouding over of the eye lens which can lead to blindness in old age. Vitamin C in strawberries helps in strengthening the eye’s cornea and retina and also protects them from the harsh UV rays which can damage the protein in the lens.
7. Immunity Booster:
Strawberries are a rich source of Vitamin C which is a powerful immunity booster as well as an antioxidant. One cup of strawberries can provide about 100% of the daily requirement of this vitamin.
8. Cancer Prevention:
Vitamin C in strawberries helps in cancer prevention by boosting our immunity. They also contain a phytochemical called ellagic acid which has anti-cancer properties such as suppressing cancer cell growth. Some studies have proved that dried strawberry powder can help prevent human esophageal cancer.
9. Pre-natal Health:
Strawberries are a good source of folate, a B vitamin required by pregnant women or those trying to conceive. Folate is vital in the early stages of pregnancy for the development of the baby’s brain, skull and spinal cord, and for the prevention of certain birth defects like spina bifida.
Strawberries are rich in Vitamin C which is involved in the production of collagen. By fighting the free radicals, it provides anti-ageing benefits, thereby reducing fine lines and wrinkles, and minimizing blemishes.
Strawberry fruit extract, being rich in ellagic acid, helps to lighten hyperpigmentation caused by UV rays by inhibiting the synthesis of melanin, the chemical that imparts color to your skin.
12. Good Cleanser:
The presence of Vitamin C, salicylic acid and antioxidants in strawberries make them fabulous skin cleansers. Salicylic acid removes dead cells from your skin as well as tightens pores and brightens your skin. Ellagic acid prevents skin damage, thus making your skin look young and fresh. Strawberries soothe and exfoliate your skin, remove impurities and keep your skin soft.
Being rich in Vitamin C, Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA), salicylic acid and flavonoids, strawberry is effective in clearing acne and reducing oil. All you need to do is mash ½ cup of sliced strawberries with 1 tablespoon sour cream and apply it on your face for 10 minutes. This will clear the acne as well as blemishes.
14. Eye Puffiness:
Strawberries can reduce puffiness and circles beneath the eyes. You can place a few strawberry slices under your eyes and relax for 10 minutes. Then moisturize as usual.
15. Effective for oily skin:
If you have oily skin, you can mash equal amounts of fresh strawberries and plain unsweetened yoghurt. Apply it on your face for 10 minutes and then rinse off.
16. Hair loss and Thinning:
The high content of ellagic acid in strawberry protects your from thinning or falling. It also contains folate and Vitamin B6 which help to combat the problem of hair loss.
17. Strawberry Conditioner:
You can prepare a strawberry conditioner to get glossy, silky and lustrous hair. Mash 8 fresh strawberries with 1 tablespoon of mayonnaise. Massage this mixture into damp hair. Cover with a shower cap for at least 10 minutes and then shampoo as usual.
18. Cure for dandruff:
Combining strawberry with tea tree oil or thyme oil enhances its antifungal effects due to its high content of copper and manganese. This is effective in curing dandruff.
19. Hair Moisturizer:
Due to its antioxidant effects, strawberry protects the membranes of the cells of the scalp and prevents the formation of a hydrophobic layer on the scalp’s surface, thus preventing scalp insulation. Combining egg yolk with strawberry is a great way to moisturize your hair.
So dig into this yummy and pretty looking fruit and enjoy all the benefits it has to offer.