11 Science-Backed Benefits of Eating Strawberries
When it comes to fruit, what could be better than biting into a plump, juicy, red strawberry? The sweetness and the slight crunch of the seeds are a delightful experience. This fruit is also extremely versatile as well, making for a great addition to smoothies, oatmeal, yogurt parfaits, summer-inspired desserts, or you can enjoy them on their own for an afternoon snack. Beautiful to look at and worth every moment of savoring, there's a long list of nutrition-based strawberry benefits to enjoy.
These berries are rich in vitamin C, antioxidants, and a variety of polyphenols that have profound effects on health and wellbeing. For more information, read on to learn about the various science-based benefits of eating strawberries. Then, for more healthy eating advice, make sure to check out 10 Healthiest Fruits To Eat Every Day.
1. Strawberries can support immune function
The immune system is impacted by vitamin C in numerous ways. For one, vitamin C supports immunity through its antioxidant capabilities. Acting as an antioxidant, vitamin C supports the cells of the immune system by protecting them from the damage that can occur when the body has an immune response. Additionally, vitamin C positively affects the immune system by stimulating the production and function of white blood cells.
Oranges are not the only fruit that is a good source of vitamin C. One cup of whole strawberries provides 85 milligrams (mg) of vitamin C, which is over 100% of the recommended daily value for women and roughly 94% of the daily value for men.
2. They can reduce inflammation
Inflammation is a normal response to infection from bacteria or viruses, as well as from an injury such as a cut or broken bone. Inflammation is problematic when it becomes chronic, meaning the body is in a prolonged inflammatory state, which can be due to autoimmune conditions, exposure to toxins, or frequent consumption of ultra-processed foods.
Strawberries are a rich source of polyphenols, important chemicals found in plants that can protect cells from inflammatory damage. Although they have not included large sample sizes, a few studies have shown that the consumption of strawberries decreases markers of inflammation like high sensitivity c-reactive protein.
3. They might also reduce osteoarthritis pain
Osteoarthritis is a common type of arthritis that is usually caused by inflammation and causes individuals to experience joint pain and cartilage breakdown. Because of the powerful antioxidant properties of strawberries, a randomized placebo-controlled crossover trial examined the role of strawberries in decreasing pain symptoms in individuals with osteoarthritis.
In this study, 17 participants were randomly placed into a placebo group or a group consuming 50 grams of freeze-dried strawberries per day for 12 weeks. In the end, researchers found a significant difference in pain scores between the two groups, with the freeze-dried strawberry group having greater decreases in pain. Although this was a very small study, it suggests that including strawberries in one's diet may help with pain management.
4. Strawberries can help protect against cancer
Strawberries are full of many types of polyphenols (beneficial chemical compounds found in plants). One powerful polyphenol found in strawberries is ellagic acid, which acts as an antioxidant and has been researched for its effect on preventing or slowing down chronic diseases.
Ellagic acid seems to have preventative and therapeutic effects on cancer through its antioxidant capacity and its ability to overcome the carcinogen process. Many factors contribute to the development of cancer. Strawberries alone will not prevent or treat cancer, but they can be part of a robust diet filled with anti-cancer properties.
5. They can improve HDL cholesterol
HDL cholesterol is the "good" type of cholesterol, as it benefits the body by taking up excess cholesterol in the blood and carrying it to the liver to then be removed. High levels of HDL cholesterol can help decrease the risk of heart disease and stroke.
A 2008 randomized control trial published in the Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that when participants consumed a moderate amount of berries (they studied mixed berries that included strawberries), they had a significant increase in HDL cholesterol compared to control.
6. They are helpful in treating metabolic syndrome
Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of conditions (high blood sugar, blood pressure, blood triglycerides, low HDL cholesterol, and a larger waistline) that raise the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Someone is diagnosed with metabolic syndrome when they have three or more of these conditions.
Strawberries may help prevent and treat metabolic syndrome due to their nutrient profile. Consuming antioxidant-rich foods and foods high in fiber is a common dietary approach to treating metabolic syndrome. In fact, a small study published in 2010 found that individuals who supplemented with a strawberry beverage containing the equivalent of three cups of strawberries had lower levels of LDL cholesterol, one main goal when working with individuals who have metabolic syndrome.
7. Strawberries support overall brain health
Emerging research is uncovering that one of the causes of cognitive decline and the development of Alzheimer's Dementia is not consuming enough foods that are rich in antioxidants and polyphenols. As mentioned throughout this article, strawberries are a good source of antioxidants and powerful polyphenols that can prevent oxidative stress and inflammation.
Although it cannot be said that strawberries prevent the development of Alzheimer's, one study found that higher strawberry intake was associated with a reduced risk of Alzheimer's dementia likely due to the vitamin C and polyphenols found in this berry.
8. They help with optimal digestion
Eating a variety of plants is critical to good digestion. One of the main reasons that plants are crucial for good gut health is because of their fiber content. For instance, one cup of sliced strawberries contains roughly three and a half grams of fiber.
The main fiber found in strawberries is insoluble fiber, and this fiber is known to pass through the gastrointestinal tract intact, adding bulk to stool. This helps keep your digestion regular.
9. They can help promote collagen production
Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body and it is the primary building block for skin, muscle, bones, tendons, and connective tissues. Take a stroll through your local grocery store's supplement aisle and you will find a myriad of collagen products claiming to support hair, skin, nails, and even joint health.
While the jury is out on whether or not supplemental collagen is beneficial, one way to support the body's natural ability to produce collagen is by consuming vitamin C. As discussed above, strawberries are a rich source of vitamin C, so skip the supplements and chow down on a bowl of strawberries to support collagen production.
10. Strawberries might help with depression symptoms
Not only are strawberries delicious, but they might also help alleviate depressive symptoms. Yes, tasty strawberries are mood-boosting but they are also a good source of folate, with one cup of sliced strawberries providing 39.8 micrograms of folate. A few small studies have found that individuals diagnosed with depression had lower levels of folate compared to those without depression. Consuming more folate will not cure depression, but meeting folate needs can help support depression treatment.
11. And they may protect against heart disease
Throughout this article, it has been stated that strawberries help reduce LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) and increase HDL cholesterol. Mitigating cholesterol levels is one way to protect against heart disease. Some research suggests that strawberries can also positively affect endothelial function (the cells that line blood vessels), but more research is needed in this area.
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