Trying to decide what to plant this season?
When researchers ranked the 50 best antioxidant sources among commonly eaten foods they found strawberries to be on the top part of the list. When total antioxidant value was measured against an equal amount of other foods (100 grams, or about 3.5 ounces), strawberries ranked 27th among all U.S. foods. In addition, when only fruits were considered, strawberries came out fourth among all fruits (behind blackberries, cranberries, and raspberries). However, since many foods (for example, spices and seasonings) are seldom consumed in amounts as large as 3.5 ounces, researchers also looked at common serving sizes for all foods and their total antioxidant capacity.
In this evaluation based on common serving sizes, strawberries came out third among all U.S. foods including spices, seasonings, fruits, and vegetables. (In this analysis where common serving size was used, only blackberries and walnuts scored higher in total antioxidant capacity.) When we hear the word ”strawberry,” we might think about a very commonplace fruit. But the antioxidant capacity of strawberry is anything but common.
Improved blood sugar regulation has been a long-standing area of interest in research on strawberries and health. However, scientists have recently discovered a relationship between the intake of strawberries, table sugar, and blood sugar levels. As you might expect, excess intake of table sugar (in a serving size of 5-6 teaspoons) can result in an unwanted blood sugar spike. A study found that this blood sugar spike was reduced by a simultaneous consumption of strawberries. With the equivalent of approximately one cup of fresh strawberries (as with other berries) blood sugar elevations from simple sugar intake can be reduced. Researchers have further speculated that polyphenols in strawberries played a major role in helping regulate blood sugar response. This finding is great news for healthy persons wanting to maintain balanced blood sugar levels, and also for persons with Type 2 Diabetes who eat fresh strawberries and want to enjoy them on a regular basis.
Given their amazing combination of phytonutrients (plant nutrients), including anthocyanins, ellagitannins, flavonols, terpenoids, and phenolic acids it’s not surprising to find increasing research interest in the anti-inflammatory properties of strawberries. This remarkable fruit has the ability to lower levels of inflammatory markers like C-reactive protein (CRP) when consumed several days per week in one cup servings. Recent research has shown that several blood markers for chronic inflammation can be improved by regular intake of strawberries. In one large-scale study, consumption of strawberries did not show anti-inflammatory benefits until strawberries were consumed at least thee times per week. This research is one of the reasons that it is recommended to include berries at least three to four times per week in your overall fruit intake.
The fragrant, sweet juiciness and deep red color of strawberries can brighten up both the taste and aesthetics of any meal. Not only do they taste great, they are among the fruits and vegetables ranked highest in health-promoting antioxidants. Antioxidants help combat the damaging effects of free radical activity to cellular structures and DNA. To get the full benefits from strawberries it is recommended to enjoy strawberries raw (not in baked/cooked desserts) because they provide the best flavor and the greatest benefits from their nutrients and digestion-aiding enzymes.
As strawberries are perishable, they should be picked/purchased only a few days prior to use. Choose berries that are firm, plump, free of mold, and which have a shiny, deep red color and attached green caps. Since strawberries, once picked, do not ripen further, avoid those that are dull in color or have green or yellow patches since they are likely to be sour and of inferior quality. Full ripe berries will not only have the peak flavor and texture, but will have more nutrients. ”Full ripe” in this case means optimally ripe, not overripe. Both under ripe and overripe strawberries have been shown to have lower vitamin C content and decreased phytonutrient content in comparison to optimally ripe strawberries.
Because conventionally grown strawberries are heavily sprayed with harmful chemicals, always choose fruit grown using organic standards.
Strawberry Coconut Cream Delight
Looking for a healthy treat? This Berry Coconut Cream Delight is not only healthy but delicious, too. The rich and creamy coconut milk freezes around the berries creating a wonderful mouth-feel with each bite. The frozen berries provide an ice cream-like texture with just enough sweetness to satisfy cravings. This treat can be made to your individual preference; a sweetener is optional and so are the topping suggestions. This creamy treat is simple and fun to make.
1 (13.5-ounce) can organic (full-fat) coconut milk
1 (16-ounce) bag organic berries, (blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, or mixed berries)
Optional sweeteners: erythritol, stevia, maple syrup, etc.
Optional toppings:, nuts (pecan pieces, walnut pieces, or almond slivers), seeds (sunflower, pumpkin, hemp, or flax), shredded coconut, cacao nibs, cocoa powder, cinnamon powder, coriander powder, or nutmeg
Pour the coconut milk into a mixing bowl; if it has separated, whisk until it is fully combined. Add the frozen berries. Stir until well combined and add sweetener of your choice to desired sweetness.
Divide into six serving dishes and add toppings of your choice. Before serving, let the berries and coconut milk sit for a few minutes, the coconut milk will freeze around the berries.
Source: Karen Falbo, Natural Grocers
Nutrition information for 1 serving without sweetener: 148 calories; 10 g fat; 12 g carbohydrates; 1.5 g protein
For more information on this and other health-related topics, come in to see me at the Eugene Natural Grocers store. We offer free classes and free one-on-one health coaching sessions (call 541-345-3300). Find our store’s schedule of free classes at: http://www.naturalgrocers.com/store-locations/eugene/.