Melissa’s Post: Strawberries are a summer favorite and a health food!

You must have noticed at your last trip to market that strawberries are finally in season! The Portsmouth market will likely be glowing in red  as market tables are filled to the edges with these ripe-and-ready gems. Strawberries are native to many parts of the world, and are actually a part of the rose family, which makes sense as the strawberry plants themselves have a pleasant floral smell to them. The leaves are also edible, and can be eaten raw, cooked, or as tea. It might be in your best interest to pick some up this summer while they’re fresh and in season, not only for their delicious, fresh, sweet taste, but also for numerous health benefits as well!

Fresh strawberries are packed with minerals such as manganese, potassium, and magnesium, vitamins like Vitamins C and K, as well as folate, and also contain antioxidants and polyphenols. The vitamins and minerals are important for helping your body complete essential metabolic processes, and the antioxidants and polyphenols work to keep small oxidizing reactions from your cellular metabolism constantly occurring in your body from causing any harm. One cup of strawberries also provides 3g of fiber, 12g of carbohydrates, and all in only 49 calories! These are not the only major nutritional benefits of strawberries, surprisingly! Strawberries’ vitamins, minerals, and other organic substances can also provide some other major health benefits.

These ruby-red fruits help to fight health disease with antioxidants ellagic acid, flavonoids (a plant chemical that gives fruits and veggies their bright colors and also provide antioxidant properties) like anthocyanin, catechin, quercetin, and kaempferol. These antioxidants help to stop or slow down the formation of LDL (low-density lipoproteins, or “bad cholesterol”) and creating a higher risk for blood clots. These properties also help to relax the blood vessels and allow blood to flow more easily, reducing blood pressure and improving circulation. In addition to this, the Vitamin C, folate, and high fiber content of strawberries effectively work together to reduce plaque in arteries and veins.

A cup of strawberries can help you fight the cold and flu! One cup of strawberries contains 150% of your daily requirement of Vitamin C, which is essential for the metabolic functions needed to build healthy tissues like skin, ligaments, tendons, and blood vessels, and can help heal wounds by making scar tissue. All are essential for building your body back to what it was before you were sick, and kick out that cold!

The antioxidants and detoxifiers in strawberries make them the perfect food for treating arthritis and gout pain. These properties help to aid in arthritic symptoms such as the drying up of lubricating substances between joints, reducing the degeneration of muscles and tissues, and reducing the accumulation of toxic substances, especially uric acid, the cause of gouty arthritis symptoms.

Though strawberries are a sweet treat, they can, alongside nutritious eating and exercise, actually aid in weight loss and gaining glycemic control of diabetes. Strawberries help to boost the amount of leptin and adiponectin, which are fat-burning hormones, also which help decrease appetite, decrease glucose, and reduce body fat. Due to the high fiber and natural sugars, strawberries are naturally a low-glycemic food, meaning they are very diabetic-friendly! The fiber keeps you from digesting the sugars too rapidly and spiking blood sugar levels, helping you maintain control of your blood sugars healthy ranges, and feel content after eating. This also means that this same property can help prevent pre-diabetics from becoming Type-2 diabetic.

If these health benefits don’t sound like enough, there are many other health benefits associated with eating strawberries, and even more reason to pick up a fresh box at your local farm stand or farmers’ market! Strawberries are also extremely versatile, so you really can’t make them go to waste. For me, I’ll be spending June and July munching on them raw, like I did just the other day when I picked them up from my local farm stand in Hooksett, Johnson’s Golden Harvest! Ask your local farmer at market about their strawberries, or strike up a conversation about you learned here about their gorgeous strawberries, they’ll be surely thrilled by being able to share this wonderful fruit with you!

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