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Strawberry the Super Berry

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An American favorite fruit—the strawberry. There are too many things to love about this super berry, which is the most commonly consumed in the country. For one, it comes in over 600 varieties. There are plenty of items that you can create from it—fruit shakes, desserts, cakes, salads, and more. Most importantly, it’s packed with fiber and nutrients that can surely boost your health.

What’s in a strawberry?

  • Vitamin C – A water-soluble vitamin that comes with antioxidant benefits, vitamin C protects the body from oxidative stress as well as maintains collagen, boosts the immune system, wards off infections, improves wound healing, and promotes healthy bones. Works wonders, doesn’t it. And you’ll be glad to know that just one serving of strawberries (or eight medium sized strawberries) gives you 160 percent of recommended daily allowance for vitamin C.
  • Potassium – Potassium is a key to maintaining the balance of electrolytes in the body. It also works to maintain proper levels of blood pressure by inhibiting the effects of sodium. A serving of strawberries supplies about 5 percent of recommended daily allowance for potassium.
  • Folate – Folate is a B vitamin that prevents neural defects in babies, helps produce red blood cells, and reduces risk of heart disease by removing a toxic compound called homocysteine, which causes artery damage. Folate is also known to keep the brain young and thwart off dementia. A cup of sliced strawberries provides you with 10 percent of your daily folate needs.
  • Other vitamins and minerals – A cup of strawberries contains other nutrients like protein (2g), calcium (22.7 mg), magnesium (146 mg), phosphorus (40.3 mg), potassium (227.5 mg) and beta-carotene (44 mcg).
  • Antioxidants – Antioxidants can ward off numerous chronic diseases including heart disease and cancer by protecting the body from oxidative stress. Strawberries contain an incredible combination of phytonutrients, a type of antioxidant. These include ellagitannins, flavonols, anthocyanins, terpenoids, and phenolic acids. According to research, the body is able to absorb the antioxidants found in strawberries very quickly, only about one hour after consumption. Strawberries rank second in the top ten fruits with the highest antioxidant capacity.
  • Fiber – The American Heart Association places great importance on fiber for heart health. Studies reveal that people who eat diets that are rich in fiber have lower risk of cardiovascular ailments.

Fiber comes in two types: soluble and insoluble. Both of these pass through the digestive tract without being digested. The soluble type gets rid of bad cholesterol and decreases likelihood of blood sugar spikes. The insoluble type, on the other hand, binds with water to keep bowel movements smooth and regular.

Recommended daily allowance for men is 38 grams and for women is 25 grams. And strawberries are a great source of fiber as each serving contains two to three grams or five percent of men’s and eight percent of women’s daily need.

Strawberries, in fact, have practically the same amount as other fruits like grapes, peaches, apples, bananas and oranges.

Health benefits of strawberries

As mentioned earlier, one of the most important benefits of strawberries is better cardiovascular health. Having a wide variety of antioxidants to reduce and repair tissue and blood vessel damage caused by free radicals, strawberries can drop your risk for cardiovascular diseases like hypertension and atherosclerosis. Other vitamins that play a good role in this are vitamin C and manganese. Vitamin C is vital for tissue repair and maintenance while manganese activates an enzyme called superoxide dismutase, which fights free radicals.

Strawberries also provide benefits for the blood sugar. These fruits have been found to lower the risk for type-2 diabetes. The main contributors for this benefit are the ellagitannins, which help maintain proper levels of blood sugar. Other than these, strawberries are also said to possess anti-cancer qualities, having rich amount of antioxidants. In studies done with animals, it was found that regular consumption of strawberries can thwart off certain forms of cancer like colon, breast and cervix.

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Here are two recipes that you could try to boost your diet.

Strawberry Shortcake

Ingredients: One large muffin cake, whipped cream, vanilla extract, and three to four cups of fresh strawberries sliced

Cover the top of the cake with whipped cream. Place a full layer of sliced strawberries on top. Put another layer of whipped cream and put another layer of strawberries. Pour some vanilla extract on top. Refrigerate before serving.

Strawberry Chicken Salad

Ingredients: ½ lb. chicken breast fillet, grilled; eight cups of lettuce; two cups of sliced strawberries; ¼ cup of toasted almonds; 2 ounce of Parmesan cheese

For the vinaigrette: ½ cup of olive oil, ½ cup of sliced strawberries, 1 teaspoon of mustard, 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, salt and pepper

Make the strawberry vinaigrette dressing first. Use a food processor to puree strawberries then add vinegar, mustard and seasoning. Mix well before adding olive oil.

Toss the lettuce with the salad dressing. Put the other ingredients on top. Serve in a salad bowl.

Strawberries are some of the nutritious fruits that you should definitely include in your diet. Enjoy its numerous perks for your health.

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