Strawberry or Fragaria vesca is a fruit widely appreciated for its sweetness, aroma, and juicy texture. It is consumed in large quantities all over the world, either in its fresh form or processed to make ice creams, juice, chocolates, and milkshakes. Despite its numerous culinary applications, many people are still unaware of the health benefits this wonderful fruit possess. It can help prevent cancer, protect the cardiovascular system, relieve constipation, fight arthritis and gout, and aid weight loss.
Botanical name: Fragaria vesca
Other species: Fragaria chiloensis Duch., Fragaria virginiana Duch.
Strawberry is the false fruit of the strawberry plant, Fragaria vesca, which belongs to the botanical family Rosaceae. The true fruits are the small grains adhered to the surface of the strawberry, which contains seeds. From the name, strawberries is botanically not a berry, but an aggregate accessory fruit.
- Strawberries are consumed raw and fresh, just like most other fruits and vegetables.
- They can also be frozen, dried, and made into preserves.
- Strawberries and its flavor are a popular addition to dairy products such as strawberry smoothies, strawberry yogurts, ice creams, and milkshakes.
- Apart from culinary consumption, strawberries also have a long history of use in medicine. They are effective laxatives, diuretics, and astringents. Both the leaves and fruits were used traditionally to fight numerous diseases and disorders.
- Its roots are astringent, and were used to treat diarrhea. Strawberry teas made from its leaves were also used to fight dysentery.
- Interestingly, modern medicine has now proved some of the above beneficial properties of strawberries. However, a few are still without any scientific evidence to back them up.
- Strawberry contains very low amounts of proteins and fats.
- It contains moderate amount of sugars.
- It is among the fruits with the lowest calorie content, as it provides just 33 calories per 100 g.
- Strawberry contains minerals in significant amounts such as iron, magnesium, manganese and potassium. It however contains very low amount of sodium, which of course is good for your cardiovascular health.
- When it comes to vitamins, It very rich in vitamin C. It also contains significant amounts of folates and other B-group vitamins
- Anthocyanidines – This substance is a vegetable pigment which is responsible for the color of strawberry. It helps reduce the production of cholesterol in the liver. The most important function of anthocyanidines found in strawberry is its ability to act as a powerful antioxidant by neutralizing the effects of free radicals.
Evidence-based benefits and medicinal uses of strawberry
- Protects the cardiovascular system
- Relieves constipation
- Treats arthritis and gout
- Prevents cancer
- Aids weight loss
The consumption of strawberries can be an effective way of avoiding arteriosclerosis, which involves the deposition of cholesterol in the arteries, thereby making them to become thicken and narrow. This effect of strawberry in preventing arteriosclerosis is due to its outstanding antioxidant property, which helps neutralize the effect of free radicals. Moreover, strawberries contribute to arterial health through their lack of fat and sodium, and their richness in potassium (a mineral that helps prevent hypertension).
Several humans studies have found berries including strawberries, cranberries, and blueberries to have beneficial effects on cardiovascular health. Their consumption was found to improve LDL oxidation, lipid peroxidation, total plasma antioxidant capacity, dyslipidemia, and glucose metabolism (1). These effects was attributed to the richness of berries in polyphenols, micro-nutrients, and fiber.
By adding just a few amounts of this wonderful fruit to your diet, you can cut your risk for cardiovascular disorders by a significant percentage.
The consumption of strawberries may help relieve constipation. This is due to their richness in soluble vegetable fiber. Fiber has been proved to facilitate the movement of stool down the colon, by improving the peristaltic action of the gut. It also add some bulk to feces, which also aids the movement of stool.
Arthritis and gout
The intake of strawberries may be found beneficial in cases of excess uric acid such as gout and uratic arthritis. This is because of their diuretic effect, which acts to increase urine production. They also have an alkalizing effect, which facilitates the elimination of excess uric acid with the urine.
Recently, a research published in Nutrition Journal, found strawberries consumption to reduce knee pain in obese adults with knee osteoarthritis (2). The study attributed the successful effect to anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties of strawberries.
Moreover, anthocyanins found in berries like strawberry, has been proven to possess great anti-inflammatory effects.
If you are one of those battling with arthritis, including small amounts of strawberries in your diet isn’t a bad idea. After all, moderate consumption of this wonderful fruit has not been linked with any side effect.
The great antioxidant effect of strawberries explains this. Its consumption helps neutralize free radicals that can cause cancerous growths. Vitamin C, anthocyanins, and quercetin, are just a few of the numerous antioxidants present in strawberries. Collectively, they form a great tool for defense against the activities of free radicals in the body.
Strawberries provide small amounts of calories. They also contain very little amounts of fats. Moreover, more than 90% of strawberry’s content is water. It is also rich in fiber.
All the above, are perfect characteristic of a weight-loss food. Fiber has been proved to have the benefit of increasing satiety in individuals who want to lose weight. This makes you consume less amount of food in total, especially those high-calorie high fat snack you consume between meals.