I loved to learn the long list of health benefits of strawberries since I can't think of any time I've heard someone say they don't like them. Have you?
And, I guarantee that if I ever do hear that, it will be because that person has never had a warm, fresh berry from a local farmers' market. Who can resist them?
Fresh, local strawberries that are picked in season only a few hours before you get to buy them are absolutely heaven on Earth. I marvel at their beauty and intense flavor every single year.
Did you know that strawberries are technically not really berries? Their seeds are on the outside of the fruit, so they are actually in the flower family and are related to roses. Fun fact to share with your family!
Essentially, what makes strawberries healthy for us is also what makes us love them so much-- the bright red color of the fruit.
Strawberry red is made by anthocyanins, which are incredible antioxidants that protect your heart, have anti-inflammatory properties, and are known to protect against cancer. Studies have found that people who eat a good number of strawberries are three times less likely to develop cancer than people who eat just a few strawberries.
Strawberries are loaded with vitamin C and manganese and are good sources of dietary fiber, iodine, potassium, folate, riboflavin, vitamin B5, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B6, vitamin K, magnesium, and copper.
Vitamin C-rich foods have been shown to protect against macular degeneration as well as rheumatoid arthritis, so strawberries are great for your eyes and your joints. Interestingly, strawberries have a compound that does the same thing as aspirin; it blocks pain caused by the enzyme cyclo-oxygenase.
You will absolutely get the most out of these nutrient benefits of strawberries when you are eating fresh or frozen strawberries. Once they go through the canning, preserving, bottling, or cooking process, they will start to lose their healthful properties.
For instance, commercial baby food with strawberries in them have none of the benefits of the anthocyanins I talked about above. Next time you think about buying strawberry baby food, just buy strawberries instead. All you need to do is puree them or thoroughly mash them, and your baby gets so many more of the health benefits of fruit.
Cautionary note: For people with kidney or gallbladder problems, strawberries may not be the best food for you to eat because they contain a large amount of oxalate, which can interfere with the absorption of calcium. This is something to talk about with your doctor.
Strawberries are pretty delicate, so handle them with care. When you buy them, it's best not to wash them until you're ready to eat. The health benefits of strawberries decrease very quickly because they don't continue to ripen after being picked, and they'll start to look droopy and sad quickly. Ideally, it's best to store them in a single layer covered with a paper towel in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
When you're ready to eat them, don't wash them directly under running water as it can dilute the flavor of the berries. Just gently wipe each one with a wet cloth or paper towel to remove the dirt.
I buy the best strawberries straight from an organic farm near our house in huge flats, and while we do eat a tremendous amount in the first few days, I like to freeze the rest for later in the summer.
To freeze them, I gently wipe each with a wet towel, pat them dry, and pinch off their stem. I place them on a cookie sheet in a single layer and freeze them until they are rock hard. Then I put them in a freezer bag and store for up to a year.