5 health benefits of strawberries

There’s nothing like fresh strawberries in the summer. Try them in this refreshing salad, which has an entire day’s worth of vitamin C.

by 6

Photo, Julie Daniluk.

If you’re a strawberry addict like me, then this time of year must make you very happy. Canadian strawberries are just the best. Unlike their oversized waterlogged cousins to the south, berries grown in Canada are teeming with flavour. The common garden strawberry that we find in stores today is actually a hybrid of the French (for flavour) and Argentinean (for size) varieties. In our modern world, we’re accustomed to strawberries being available year-round, but nothing can compare to the first sweet taste of a fresh strawberry. Local berries also mean a much smaller carbon footprint.

Why you should eat fresh strawberries

For more reasons to justify your strawberry habit, savour these five sweet facts:

1. They are an excellent source of folate. Strawberries are an amazing source of folate (the folic acid found in food). Inadequate amounts of folate in the aging population can contribute to atherosclerosis, vascular disease and even a decline in cognitive function. Medications used for conditions like rheumatoid arthritis can actually deplete folic acid in the body, so stock up on strawberries to replenish!

2. They could reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Strawberries are being studied for their unique ability to suppress the inflammatory responses of the body and reduce our risk of hypertension by lowering LDL cholesterol. A 2013 study published in Circulation found women who ate three or more servings of strawberries and blueberries in a week reduced their risk of heart attack by 32 percent.

3. There’s more than enough vitamin C. Strawberries contain more than 100 percent of our daily recommended intake of vitamin C in just one cup. Recent studies show that when vitamin C is consumed during times of stress, it actually has the ability to decrease our blood pressure to a normal level, preventing the development of hypertension — especially in kids.

4. They’re a great source of fibre.
 Strawberries are high in fibre, which is important for moving food through your digestive system and helping bowel movements. This can help improve digestion, especially for those with constipation or irregular stools.

5. They’re high in antioxidants. Strawberries contain anthrocyanin, which is a powerful antioxidant that protects us from the damaging effects of our environment, especially the sun. The antioxidant power of the anthrocyanins found in strawberries lasts up to 24 hours after consumption; this makes them a great defence against free radical damage.

Strawberry salad recipe

Photo, Julie Daniluk

Strawberry, red onion and spinach salad recipe

This is a classic strawberry-spinach salad and the perfect blend of sweet, sour and savoury. The spinach is one of the richest sources of lutein, which protects your vision by absorbing damaging UV radiation and dissipating it harmlessly. The yellow bell peppers in this recipe are teeming with vitamin C, which offers immune protection. Together with the strawberries, you get your daily dose of vitamin C in just one serving of salad.

Ingredients
4 cups baby spinach
1 medium red onion, finely sliced
1 large yellow pepper, finely sliced
2 cups strawberries, sliced
1/2 cup pine nuts

Dressing
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp sea salt

Directions
1. Layer veggies in a bowl and top with berries and pine nuts.

2. Mix dressing ingredients in a mason jar and pour over the salad.

Makes four salads.

Read more:
Eat spinach to help you feel more relaxed

Five health benefits of asparagus
The health benefits of beets

Nutritionist Julie Daniluk hosts Healthy Gourmet, a reality cooking show that looks at the ongoing battle between taste and nutrition. Her book, Meals That Heal Inflammation, advises on allergy-free foods that both taste great and assist the body in the healing process.