Red, ripe and delicious, strawberries are a little fruit that work overtime for your health.
Peak strawberry season is just around the corner, so now is the perfect time to add strawberries to your menu for summer weight loss. From farm stands to your local supermarket, these luscious berries are sure to turn up just about everywhere.
And don't forget about the amazing organically grown strawberries that come from California year round.
The exciting research that is being done shows that the special nutritional components in strawberries might be able to stimulate your metabolism and help suppress your appetite. They can control blood sugar and can also help you lose weight.
It is no wonder that scientists across the United States, in Sweden and other countries have been researching the wonders of the strawberry and discovering more evidence of its health benefits. There is no doubt that strawberries have joined the other rock stars of super nutritious fruit such as blueberries, cherries, cranberries and pomegranates.
What Gives Strawberries Their Nutritional Punch?
Strawberries are a healthy food to eat to lose weight, because there are 49 calories in one cup of strawberries. They are also loaded with Vitamin C, 3 grams of fiber, and some calcium, magnesium, and potassium.
Strawberries are rich sources of phenolic antioxidants that can help:
- reverse inflammation
- aid in weight loss
- reduce the risk of chronic disease.
University of Illinois researchers found that the most abundant antioxidants in strawberries are ellagic acid, as well as the flavonoids quercetin, kaempferol anthocyanin and catechin. They further pointed out that strawberry extracts have shown to inhibit COX enzymes in laboratory experiments. This would mean that strawberries could have the potential to help reduce inflammation and pain.
Learn more about fruit anthocyanin's ability to reduce pain in Cherry Season: Fight Pain and Inflammation.
Research on Strawberries and Disease
Research results indicate that strawberries can provide nutritional support to fight aging and disease:
- In vitro laboratory experiments from Cornell University suggest that strawberry extracts may help inhibit the growth of liver cancer cells.
- Studies with laboratory animals demonstrated benefits of strawberries for the aging brain.
Writing in the Journal of Medicinal Food scientists from Clemson University examined the cancer fighting potential of various berries. They note: "Plants are proven sources of useful anti-tumor and chemopreventative compounds. Hence, identification of phytochemicals useful in dietary prevention and intervention of cancer is of paramount importance." Evaluating the results of their experiments the Clemson researchers concluded: "Juice from strawberry, blueberry, and raspberry fruit significantly inhibited mutagenesis."
Strawberries Help Protect the Heart
Strawberry extracts have direct anti-inflammatory effects, inhibiting the activation of genes and enzymes that promote inflammation.
Most of this benefit is due to another group of phenolic antioxidants called anthocyanins, which help give ripe strawberries their lush red color. Anthocyanins decrease the risk of heart disease and stroke by protecting blood vessels from the effects of wear and tear.
Strawberries Promote Weight Loss
The ellagic acid and anthocyanins found in strawberries aid weight loss in at least three ways:
- Chronic inflammation blocks the hormones involved in keeping you lean. Anti-inflammatory foods like strawberries help restore normal function to weight-reducing hormones.
- Anthocyanins actually increase the body's production of a hormone called adiponectin, which stimulates your metabolism and suppresses your appetite.
- Both ellagic acid and anthocyanins slow the rate of digestion of starchy foods, controlling the rise in blood sugar that follows a starchy meal. This effect is used to control blood sugar in people with adult-onset (Type 2) diabetes.
Learn more about making your weight loss hormones work for you in my article: Increase Metabolism with the Fat Burning Hormone Leptin
Organic Strawberries Have More Nutrition
I recommend organically grown strawberries. Organic strawberries have been shown to have higher levels of vitamin C and than conventionally grown strawberries, due to a higher content of phenolic antioxidants.
In a fascinating study, researchers from Washington State University compared organic strawberries and farms to conventional strawberries and farms. They found the organic strawberries to be higher in quality, and the soil to be healthier. Specifically, in comparison to the conventionally grown berries, the organic strawberries had higher total antioxidants, ascorbic acid, and total phenolics.
Strawberries give you flavor, color, and aroma, awakening your taste buds to the fresh, natural foods your body needs to be healthy and vital.
When shopping for berries, freshness is important. Identify strawberries that are bright red and firm.
Strawberries are a great snack or dessert, and add color and flavor to healthy recipes. Naturally sweet and juicy, strawberries are a sublime pleasure and make a great healthy treat.
Simply add a handful of sliced strawberries to:
Cereal or granola
You can eat fresh or frozen strawberries as a snack or dessert anytime.
Here is a recipe featuring strawberries from my book, The Fat Resistance Diet, an anti-inflammatory program.
Banana Strawberry Smoothie
1 cup nonfat plain yogurt
1 banana, sliced
1/2 cup fresh or frozen strawberries
1 tablespoon freshly ground flaxseeds
1 tablespoon whey protein concentrate
Pour 2 tablespoons water into a blender. Add the yogurt, banana, and strawberries and blend. Put in the ground flaxseeds and whey protein. Blend until smooth. Pour into a tall glass and enjoy! Serves 1.
I hope you enjoy the healthy pleasure of strawberries now and throughout the year.
Now I'd like to hear from you:
Do you enjoy strawberries?
Where do you shop for them?
How do you usually eat them?
Please let me know your thoughts by posting a comment below.
Leo Galland, MD
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Leo Galland, MD is a board-certified internist, author and internationally recognized leader in integrated medicine. Dr. Galland is the founder of Pill Advised, a web application for learning about medications, supplements and food. Sign up for FREE to discover how your medications and vitamins interact. Watch his videos on YouTube and join the Pill Advised Facebook page.
References and Further Reading
J Agric Food Chem. 2006 Feb 22;54(4):1248-55. "Antioxidant levels and inhibition of cancer cell proliferation in vitro by extracts from organically and conventionally cultivated strawberries." Olsson ME, Andersson CS, Oredsson S, Berglund RH, Gustavsson KE. Department of Crop Science, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, P.O. Box 44, SE-230 53 Alnarp, Sweden.
J Atheroscler Thromb. 2011 Apr 27;18(4):318-27. Epub 2011 Jan 13. "Attenuation of meal-induced inflammatory and thrombotic responses in overweight men and women after 6-week daily strawberry (fragaria) intake."Ellis CL, Edirisinghe I, Kappagoda T, Burton-Freeman B. Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, University of California-Davis.
PLoS One. 2010 Sep 1;5(9). pii: e12346 "Fruit and soil quality of organic and conventional strawberry agroecosystems." Reganold JP, Andrews PK, Reeve JR, Carpenter-Boggs L, Schadt CW, Alldredge JR, Ross CF, Davies NM, Zhou J. Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, Washington State University, Pullman, Washington, United States of America. Erratum in PLoS One. 2010;5(10). doi: 10.1371/annotation/1eefd0a4-77af-4f48-98c3-2c5696ca9e7a.
Nutr Res. 2010 Jul;30(7):462-9. "Strawberries decrease atherosclerotic markers in subjects with metabolic syndrome." Basu A, Fu DX, Wilkinson M, Simmons B, Wu M, Betts NM, Du M, Lyons TJ. Nutritional Sciences, 301 Human Environmental Sciences, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK 74078-6141, USA.
Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2004;44(1):1-17. "Potential impact of strawberries on human health: a review of the science." Hannum SM. Nutritional Sciences, University of Illinois, USA.
Int J Mol Sci. 2008 Mar;9(3):327-41. Epub 2008 Mar 12. "Dietary berries and ellagic acid prevent oxidative DNA damage and modulate expression of DNA repair genes." Aiyer HS, Vadhanam MV, Stoyanova R, Caprio GD, Clapper ML, Gupta RC. James Graham Brown Cancer Center, University of Louisville, KY 40202, USA.
J Agric Food Chem. 2008 Feb 13;56(3):630-5. Epub 2008 Jan 23. "Berry fruits for cancer prevention: current status and future prospects." Seeram NP. Center for Human Nutrition, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles, California 90095, USA.
J Agric Food Chem. 2003 Nov 5;51(23):6887-92."Antioxidant and antiproliferative activities of strawberries." Meyers KJ, Watkins CB, Pritts MP, Liu RH. Department of Food Science, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York 14853-7201, USA.
J Med Food. 2004 Winter;7(4):450-5. "Antimutagenic activity of berry extracts." Hope Smith S, Tate PL, Huang G, Magee JB, Meepagala KM, Wedge DE, Larcom LL. Department of Microbiology, Clemson University, Clemson, SC 29634, USA.
Full Text: "Diet and Inflammation" Leo Galland, MD, Nutr Clin Pract December 7, 2010 vol. 25 no. 6 634-640
Power Healing: Use the New Integrated Medicine to Cure Yourself. Leo Galland, 384 pages, Random House, (June 1, 1998)
Recipe by Jonathan Galland from The Fat Resistance Diet © 2005 Leo Galland, M.D., Reprinted by permission of the author.
Superimmunity for Kids : What to Feed Your Children to Keep Them Healthy Now, and Prevent Disease in Their Future, Leo Galland with Dian Dincin Buchman, Dell (August 1, 1989)
This information is provided for general educational purposes only and is not intended to constitute (i) medical advice or counseling, (ii) the practice of medicine or the provision of health care diagnosis or treatment, (iii) or the creation of a physician--patient relationship. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem, contact your doctor promptly.