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Bright red and fragrant outside and juicy and tart inside, strawberries are a member of the Rosaceae (Rose) family of plants that also includes fruits like apples and raspberries. 

The fruit is much loved around the globe for its distinct flavour and fragrance and is included in a wide range of foods and confectionaries such as pies, jam, jelly, biscuits, cakes and ice creams. 

It is rich in fibre, antioxidants and other phytochemicals (plant-based chemicals) and is known for its benefits for the heart and circulatory system. It is also believed to be good for immunity.

Did you know:

Strawberries are not exactly the fruit of the plant. Instead, they are the receptacle—the part with which the flower is attached to the stem. The tiny "seeds", as we call them, over the surface of the strawberries are the real (dried) fruits. Each of that fruit contains one seed. 

Some basic facts about strawberries

  • Scientific name: Fragaria ananassa
  • Family: Rosaceae
  • Common name: Strawberries
  • Native region and geographical distribution: Wild strawberry is a perennial herb that grows all over Europe and Asia. It is also found in America and Africa. 
  • Parts used: Receptacle and fruit
  1. Strawberry nutrition facts
  2. Strawberry health benefits
  3. Strawberry side effects

Strawberries are low in energy and protein but have a good amount of minerals and vitamin C

The following are some nutrients present per 100 grams of strawberries, as per the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) data:

Nutrient Value per 100 g
Energy 32 Kcal
Water 91 g
Carbohydrates 7.68 g
Proteins 0.67 g
Fats 0.3 g
Fibre 2 g
Minerals  
Potassium 153 mg
Phosphorus 24 mg
Calcium  16 mg
Magnesium  13 mg
Sodium 1 mg
Iron  0.4 mg
Vitamins  
Vitamin C 58.8 mg
Folate 24 µg
Vitamin A 1 µg

Strawberries are loaded with both nutritional and health building compounds which together make it an excellent health-building food. The wild Indian strawberry (Duchesnea indica), though mostly tasteless, is considered to be a medicinal plant and every part of the plant is believed to have therapeutic benefits.  

Here are some of the science-backed health benefits of strawberries:

Strawberries may improve immunity

With 58.8 mg of vitamin C, 100 g of strawberries contain more than half the daily recommended requirement of this vitamin. As per the National Institutes of Health, US, a healthy adult man should take at least 90 mg of vitamin C in their diet and adult women should take about 75 mg of this vitamin every day. 

Vitamin C is a natural antioxidant with a proven role in immune function. Experts say that a vitamin C deficiency can negatively affect immunity and make you prone to infections. On the contrary, if you take the required dose of this vitamin daily, it can prevent infections and promote clearance of the pathogen from the body if you already have an infection. 

Though, there haven’t been many studies that directly associate strawberry intake with improved immunity, in a single study done on a group of obese patients (who are said to be naturally prone to infections), a seven-day intake of strawberries had shown a modest increase in the level of CD8 T cells (a type of immune cell in the body).

Strawberries benefits for heart

Strawberries are known to be highly beneficial for heart health. 

Studies show that these fruits reduce some of the major risk factors of heart diseases, including inflammation, high blood pressure and high cholesterol

These benefits are attributed to the presence of polyphenols and antioxidants in strawberries. Together, these compounds reduce free radical damage and oxidative stress, which otherwise slowly degrade organ function. 

Strawberries also contain a good amount of potassium, which is considered to be good for heart health. Various studies indicate the benefits of potassium in reducing the risk of high blood pressure and stroke.

As per a study done in Finland, strawberry puree, when consumed with some other berries, increased high-density lipoprotein or HDL cholesterol in the body. HDL cholesterol is the good cholesterol. As per the American Heart Association, this cholesterol moves the bad cholesterol (LDL) away from the arteries and into the liver where it is broken down.

Strawberry benefits in diabetes

Animal studies show that strawberries have a hypoglycemic (reduces blood sugar) effects, which are attributed to the polyphenols present in them.

Strawberries are said to be a low glycemic index food: they do not increase your blood sugar levels suddenly. In a small study done on 12 healthy subjects, administration of a puree made with berries including strawberry caused a reduction in the postprandial (after meal) spike in blood glucose. 

In a randomised, placebo-controlled trial done on 41 insulin-resistant obese individuals, strawberry polyphenols showed a marked improvement in insulin sensitivity. Insulin is the hormone that regulates blood glucose levels in the body. It does so by signalling body cells (liver, muscle and fat cells) to take up glucose. Insulin sensitivity refers to the sensitivity of body cells to the effects of insulin. 

So, strawberries may be safe and even a bit beneficial for people living with diabetes. Still, diabetic people should talk to their doctor before adding strawberries to their diet.

Strawberry benefits for brain health

In animal studies, regular consumption of strawberries has shown to be effective in reducing the age-related decline in brain function. The benefit is again attributed to the presence of polyphenols and antioxidants in strawberries. These reduce oxidative stress and improve communication between brain cells. 

It is also suggested that the neuroprotective action of strawberries can reverse some of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

An older study—done on over 16,000 people above the age of 70—found that the flavonoids, especially anthocyanidins (a part of anthocyanins) present in berries can reduce the rate of cognitive decline in the long term.

However, more studies are still needed to confirm the benefits of strawberries on brain function.

Read more: Foods that increase brain power

Strawberries benefits for skin

The antioxidant content of strawberries makes it beneficial for the skin. 

Experts say that strawberry-based formulations have a photoprotective effect on the skin. They protect the skin from UV damage. Hence, these formulations can be used to substitute synthetic sunscreen use.

Strawberries are loaded with vitamin C, which is considered to be helpful in maintaining skin barrier function. The skin barrier is the outermost layer of the skin that protects the body from infections, chemicals and other harmful substances.

According to a study published in The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, vitamin C reduces pigmentation and slows down skin ageing.

In a small study done in Poland, micro-needling with vitamin C-enriched strawberry hydrolysate was found to improve skin firmness and elasticity.

To reap all of these benefits of strawberries, you can either consume them daily or just mash a few strawberries in your DIY face pack and you are good to go.

Read more: Causes and home remedies for wrinkles on the face

Strawberries benefits in pregnancy

Strawberries are rich in folate (vitamin B9), which is an essential nutrient for pregnant women. It helps prevent neural tube defects in the baby. As per the office of dietary supplements, NIH, pregnant women should take about 600 mcg of folate per day—100 g of strawberries have about 40 mcg of this nutrient; roughly 7% of the daily requirement during pregnancy. (Read more: Essential vitamins and minerals during pregnancy

The USDA recommends that women who are trying to conceive should consume vitamin C rich foods like strawberries as it enhances iron absorption in the body. This is because pregnant women are prone to iron deficiency and anaemia, which if left untreated may negatively affect the fetus.

However, since there isn’t much evidence on the benefits and safety of strawberries during pregnancy, it is best that pregnant women consult their doctors to know more about the safety concerns and benefits of strawberries.

Strawberries may prevent cancer

Lab studies show that the active compound present in strawberries have potent anticarcinogenic effects. They can prevent DNA damage, detoxify the body and decrease the proliferation of cancer cells. 

Strawberry extracts have specifically shown action against human liver cancer cells in lab culture and against oral cancer in animal models.

In a study done in Brazil, it was found that a compound called ellagic acid present in strawberries has strong antiproliferative effects against cancer cells—it stops cancer cells from multiplying.

Other benefits of strawberries

The following are some other benefits of strawberry:

  • Strawberries are said to be good for preventing hair fall, especially that caused due to iron deficiency. This is because of the high vitamin C content of strawberries that improves iron absorption in the body.
  • Berries are considered to be beneficial for slowing down the effects of ageing on eyes.
  • The malic acid present in strawberries is said to be a natural teeth whitener. Also, it increases saliva production which reduces the risk of caries (dental cavities). (Read more: Teeth whitening at home)
  • The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects of berries are said to be beneficial in reducing pain and other symptoms in arthritis patients.
  • Wild Indian strawberry is said to be a good antiseptic, anticoagulant, and febrifuge (reduces fever). It is also believed to be beneficial in the management of conditions like laryngitis and tonsillitis.

The following are some side effects of strawberries:

  • Some people are allergic to strawberries. Strawberry allergy may show up as itching and inflammation in the mouth and throat.
  • Strawberries contain compounds called goitrogens which may negatively affect thyroid health.
  • Strawberries contain a lot of potassium. Hence, if you tend to eat too many strawberries every day, it may cause a condition called hyperkalemia. Signs of excess potassium in the body include irregular heartbeat, fatigue, weakness, nausea, paralysis and paraesthesia or burning sensation.

Medicines / Products that contain Strawberry

References

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