9 Potential Health Benefits of Strawberries
Delicious and sweet, the nutrient-packed strawberry is naturally low in sugar and calories and high in antioxidants.
Strawberries may boost the immune system
The strawberry is packed with vitamin C, a nutrient that plays a crucial role in supporting a healthy immune system. While our bodies cannot produce vitamin C, we can get it by eating foods such as strawberries. Eating a cup a day gives you 100 percent of your daily requirement for the powerful antioxidant. "When it comes to your immune system, vitamin C is a celebrity, especially with some products that claim it helps when you get sick," says Angel Planells, RD, a Seattle-based spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Yet, instead of boosting your vitamin C when you are sick, try to have it on a regular basis, he says.
Strawberries also contain polyphenols, compounds with antioxidant properties, which may protect against the influenza virus and even stave off Staphylococcus, E. coli, and Salmonella. Antioxidants are more than just the color of food, they are in the flesh of the fruit, says Katie Cavuto, RD, an integrative dietitian in Philadelphia. "Eating antioxidants is like eating an army of vacuum cleaners—they course through our body and eat up free radicals that cause disease." (Find out some ways to make a cold less miserable.)
Strawberries may help with weight control
According to a study published in 2016 in BMJ, strawberries may help prevent weight gain and are one of many fruits that help with weight loss if eaten on a daily basis. The flavonoids in a strawberry may help prevent age-related weight gain. Here are other fruits that can help you lose pounds.
Strawberries help lower cholesterol and the risk of cardiovascular disease
A study published in 2014 in The Journal of Nutrition suggested that when obese adults supplemented their diets with high doses of strawberries, they had reduced total and LDL ("bad") cholesterol levels. According to the California Strawberry Commission, strawberries contain cardio-protective nutrients such as vitamin C, folate, potassium (220 mg in 1 cup), flavonoids, and fiber (2.9 grams in one cup), which have been shown to lower markers of cardiovascular disease such as cholesterol levels and blood pressure. "The benefit of consuming fiber is that it pulls cholesterol out of our body," says Planells. Find out other reasons you should be adding more fiber to your diet.
Strawberries may help fight inflammation
Regularly eating strawberries may help reduce the risk for chronic inflammation, according to a review of studies published in 2016 in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. But don’t expect immediate results, says Lauren Kelly. RD. a registered dietitian in New York City. “Include berries in your daily diet for a few months and see if an improvement is achieved," she says. "You’ll want to give your body time.” To boost the anti-inflammatory benefits, combine strawberries with other well-known anti-inflammatory foods such as whole grains, leafy greens, and healthy fats. "Try strawberries and almond butter on whole wheat toast, strawberries added to a spinach salad with grilled salmon or frozen strawberries combined with soy or almond milk in a smoothie," suggests Cavuto.
They may help lower your risk of cancer
Strawberries are one of many foods associated with reducing your risk of cancer. Berries, are rich in antioxidants, including vitamin C and flavonoids, explains Kelly. "Antioxidants help to reduce oxidative stress within the body, reducing inflammation and therefore reducing the risk for inflammatory-related conditions such as cancer, heart disease, and autoimmune conditions." The flavonoids in strawberries, as well as other fruits and vegetables, not only help reduce inflammation but they have also shown promise in reducing the cell proliferation associated with cancer, says Kelly.
Strawberries may help ward off conditions like type 2 diabetes
The American Diabetes Association notes that strawberries and other berries are packed with vitamins, antioxidants, and dietary fiber, meaning they good for overall health and may prevent disease. Snacking on a few strawberries at meal time may slow post-meal oxidative stress, inflammation, and insulin response. "When free radicals build up in the body they can generate oxidative stress which can burden healthy cells," explains Cavuto. "Some oxidative stress naturally occurs when we eat, so it makes sense that eating strawberries with a meal can help neutralize this considering their strong antioxidant properties." (Here are some factors that can help ward off and potentially reverse type 2 diabetes.)
Strawberries may be good for your eyes
While most of the research on eye health has focused on vitamin A (found in abundance in carrots), the powerful antioxidant vitamin C (found in strawberries) has been shown to lower the risk for cataracts, according to the American Optometric Association. The power lies in the antioxidants, explains Planells. When you consume foods with antioxidant properties, it protects your body from the presence of free radicals caused by a lack of certain nutrients.
Strawberries help boost folate intake
Folic acid (or folate) is an important nutrient found in many foods—strawberries, among them—that help the body make healthy new cells but the majority of women of child-bearing age are not meeting their daily requirements, suggests a study published in 2017 in the Journal of Nutrition. Folic acid is crucial, especially for pregnant women, because it helps with the development of the baby, explains Kelly. "But you would have to eat an unrealistic amount of strawberries to meet the increased recommendation to consume in pregnancy and to reduce the risk of developing birth defects like spina bifida." That's why you should take a folic acid supplement throughout your pregnancy. Check out these other foods that are also high in folic acid.
You don't have to eat a lot to see health benefits
Fresh, frozen, or dried, strawberries are low in calories (just 27 calories in a half-cup) and most research shows that you only need to eat one serving of strawberries three times per week to see health benefits (one serving is about eight strawberries). It would be beneficial to incorporate one-half to one cup of berries daily, says Kelly. "Include a mix of different berries to vary your nutritional intake—you can add them to your yogurt or oatmeal, into a smoothie, on a salad, or have as a snack with a handful of almonds or walnuts, but having them fresh is best." Kelly suggests choosing organic over those treated with pesticides. "If you cannot afford fresh organic strawberries, try frozen organic as another option." Here's a genius trick that will help fresh strawberries last longer.
- Angel Planells, RD, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Seattle.
- Katie Cavuto, RD, integrative dietitian, Philadelphia.
- BMJ, "Dietary Flavonoid Intake and Weight Maintenance: Three Prospective Cohorts of 124 086 US Men and Women Followed for Up to 24 Years."
- Harvard Health Publishing, "Foods that Fight Inflammation."
- The Journal of Nutrition, "Freeze-Dried Strawberries Lower Serum Cholesterol and Lipid Peroxidation in Adults with Abdominal Adiposity and Elevated Serum Lipids."
- British Journal of Nutrition, "Diet and Cognitive Decline at Middle Age: The Role of Antioxidants."
- Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, "Promising Health Benefits of the Strawberry: A Focus on Clinical Studies."
- Lauren Kelly, RD, registered dietitian, New York City.
- American Diabetes Association, "Diabetes Superfoods."
- American Optometric Association, "Nutrition and Cataracts."
- Journal of Nutrition, "Folate Deficiency Is Prevalent in Women of Childbearing Age in Belize and Is Negatively Affected by Coexisting Vitamin B-12 Deficiency: Belize National Micronutrient Survey 2011."