By Chef Lauren Cox, Closer to Your Food

Reasons Why You Should Eat More Strawberries

Strawberries are one of life’s simple pleasures and in most parts of the US are a sweet treat in the spring and summer seasons. They evoke memories of confiture, pies and pretty gardens, but did you know organic strawberries are also amazingly and surprisingly good for you? Non-organic berries top the dirty dozen list, so try growing your own at home or finding them at your local farmer’s market.

Here’s why strawberries are so great:

They Love You

1 cup of strawberries will give you 100% of your recommended daily allowance (RDA) of vitamin C. Vitamin C is essential for boosting immunity, helping your eyes fight off cataracts, increasing collagen production in the skin and protecting it from UV-B rays.1

They Love Babies

Strawberries are high in folate for a fruit at about 21 mcg per serving. Folate has been proven necessary for women who are trying to conceive and who are pregnant. Folate is important for crucial organ development (such as the spinal cord and brain) in unborn babies.2

They Really Love Your Heart

Strawberries contain amazing antioxidants and phytochemicals such as lutein, ellagic acid, and zeathancins, known to go after and destroy free radicals that can seriously damage cells. These compounds are also proven to reduce blood lipids and reduce oxidative damage for those dealing with heart disease and diabetes. In turn, strawberries have also been proven to lower inflammation by reducing C-reactive protein (CRP) levels. Strawberries really have to be given credit as one of the most heart-healthy fruits because of these anti-inflammatory, cholesterol and blood pressure lowering properties.3

They Keep You Slim

Strawberries typically contain less than 7 grams of sugar per serving, are high in fiber, have zero fat and are very low in calories. Because they are so low on the glycemic index, strawberries are a great go-to snack that gives you a little natural fructose and fiber to fill you up and keep you regular. Bonus – the red color in strawberries comes from anthocyanins, which are proven to help your body burn stored fat.4

They Love Your Teeth

Strawberries are one of the best plant-based sources for polyphenols by a long shot. These compounds actually slow down the breakdown of starches in the mouth, leaving less sugary, sticky residue stuck to your teeth that can cause decay. You can actually rub your teeth with strawberries to help you whiten them, but only do this about once a season as too much can cause damage to the enamel on your teeth.5

Tips

  • When buying strawberries, make sure you go for local, organic, heirloom and wild varieties. They have more flavor and are non-GMO, as non-organic strawberries top the dirty dozen list.
  • Do not wash your berries right away when you bring them home, wash as you go. They have such a high water content that they’ll soak up any excess moisture and rot faster.
  • Keep the stems on until you are ready to eat.
  • To de-stem your strawberries without cutting the entire top part off, use a straw and puncture it through the berry vertically to pop out the stem.

How We Eat Em’

Fresh Strawberries with Balsamic Glaze

2 cups fresh strawberries, cored and sliced in half
1 tablespoon aged balsamic syrup

Chill strawberries in a bowl for at least 30 minutes, drizzle with balsamic and enjoy!


Strawberry Basil Water

1 liter filtered water
1 cup strawberries, sliced
2 tablespoons basil, chopped
2 slices fresh orange

Mix all ingredients in a pitcher and chill at least 1 hour before serving over ice.

 

Roasted Strawberry Coconut Ice Cream

3 cups fresh strawberries
1 pinch sea salt
2 cans full fat coconut milk, shaken
1 teaspoon vanilla
¼ cup organic sugar

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees and pour the strawberries into a baking dish. Sprinkle the berries with a pinch of salt and toss. Roast in the oven for about 20-30 minutes or until the berries are completely loose and the juices have started to condense. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool in the fridge.

While the strawberries are cooling, add the coconut milk, vanilla and sugar to a blender. Blend on high about 30-60 seconds or until frothy and very smooth. Transfer the mix to your ice cream maker and follow the manufacturer’s instructions (it usually takes about 30-45 minutes for one batch). Just as the ice cream is almost finished in the last 2 minutes, add in the roasted strawberries and allow it to swirl into the mix without getting totally incorporated. Transfer to a storage container, chill another 20 minutes in the freezer to set and enjoy!


References:

  1.   http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/fruits-and-fruit-juices/2064/2
  2.   http://www.parents.com/pregnancy/my-body/nutrition/folate-foods/
  3.   http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3068482/
  4.   http://www.metaboliceffect.com/berries-to-burn-fat/
  5.   http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20687551_17,00.html

Closer to Your Food is a wellness blog focused on eating and cooking for health and sustainability with recipes and lifestyle tips formulated around a plant-based diet and home-grown local foods. Chef Lauren Cox holds a B.A. from the le Cordon Bleu in Culinary Management with over 8 years of fine dining experience in private dining, catering and Michelan star restaurants. For more information, please visit www.closertoyourfood.com and follow Closer to Your Food on Twitter and Facebook @Closer2YourFood. 


*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.