Strawberries are a summer staple – and also a great addition to any healthy diet. They are naturally sweet and loaded with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytosterols, which are compounds known to inhibit the absorption of cholesterol in the gastrointestinal tract. Eating strawberries is also an excellent way to add vitamin C and other antioxidants, fiber, and potassium to your diet while simultaneously curbing cravings for sugar because they have a low glycemic index score. Read on for more information on the health benefits of strawberries.
Another summer activity: health benefits of swimming.
Lower “Bad” Cholesterol
Studies have shown that consumption of foods containing phytosterols on a daily basis lowers serum LDL cholesterol by inhibiting the absorption of cholesterol in the intestine. Strawberries contain 18.2mg of phytosterols in a one-cup serving, making them the perfect snack for those who are trying to lower cholesterol numbers through diet. One study done in 2014 found that 50 grams per day of freeze-dried strawberries significantly lowered total and LDL cholesterol in patients with high cholesterol over the course of 12 weeks.
Lower Blood Pressure
Strawberries are a source of potassium, a mineral that is important for cell function in the body. Potassium reduces the effects of sodium, which is linked to high blood pressure. There is 233mg of potassium (which is around 7% of the recommended daily intake) in one cup of strawberries.
Improve Glycemic Control
Strawberries have a low glycemic index score, which means that they do not raise glucose levels as dramatically as foods that have higher scores. Scientific studies suggest that foods high in polyphenols, especially berries, may reduce the absorption of starch and hence reduce glucose levels in the blood following a meal. Because they are naturally sweet, have a low glycemic index, and are high in fiber, strawberries are a valuable addition to the menu plans of diabetics.
Protect and Improve Skin Health
Strawberries are packed with vitamin C, which has a central role in collagen synthesis, making it a major factor on the health of the skin. Vitamin C is an antioxidant which scavenges free radicals that can cause damage from UV light exposure. Vitamin C also regulates the production of collagen, the major structural protein in the skin. One cup of strawberries has around 89mg of vitamin C, or 149% of the daily recommended intake.
The antioxidants in strawberries are known cancer-fighters! Vitamin C provides powerful protection against the damage done to the DNA of our cells by free radicals. There are many cohort studies which indicate that maintaining a diet high in natural food sources of vitamin C is associated with lower rates of some types of cancer, including skin cancer and possibly breast cancer.
More ways to fight cancer.
Strawberries are a good source of folate, which is an important B-vitamin involved in many metabolic processes in the body. Low folate status in women of childbearing age is associated with an increased risk of neural tube defects in newborns. Adding strawberries to your diet if you are pregnant will increase your dietary intake of folate and decrease the risk of complications associated with folate deficiency. One cup of strawberry halves contains 36.5mcg of folate.
Reduce Inflammation in the Body
Studies suggest that high dietary intake of certain compounds found in strawberries (anthocyanin, a compound that gives brightly colored fruits their pigment, and flavonols) are associated with an anti-inflammatory effect. Inflammation is often a source of pain and general health problems. This could be the reason why people who have high intakes of fruits and vegetables are found to have a lower risk of chronic disease.
There is evidence that diets low in vitamin C-rich foods are a risk factor for developing arthritis. Meeting the recommended daily intake of vitamin C by adding strawberries to your diet is one excellent way to maintain healthy joints and prevent arthritis.
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