The More the Berrier
By Chelsea Fisher
Not for nothing does the ever popular strawberry get the starring role in so many desserts, smoothies, and cereal bowls. The reason is simple: Strawberries are delicious. But just to show that sometimes life is fair, those bright red sweeties are also nutritional powerhouses. They are a good source of folate, potassium, fiber, and manganese, and have even more vitamin C than oranges. Folate has been shown to decrease the incidence of colon cancer, while potassium promotes arterial health, and improves circulation, so essential to cellular healing. Strawberries also increase the production of hormones that stimulate your metabolism, which can help the body shed excess fat.
According to the American Cancer Society, lab research has found that ellagic acid, a compound found in strawberries, raspberries, and cranberries may slow the growth of some tumors caused by certain carcinogens. There is no evidence yet that ellagic acid has an effect on cancer in humans, but certainly a big bowl of fresh strawberries couldn’t hurt.
Strawberries are always best when bought in season, more or less locally. This may seem obvious, but now that we live in a global grocery, fruit comes from anywhere, at any time of the year. When selecting strawberries, make sure they are plump, firm, and a deep, bright, glossy red all over. Berries that are pale and greenish have been picked before they are fully ripe, and won’t be as tasty as they should be. Any with soft, dull bluish patches on their skins are past their sell-by dates. Recent research has found that after being picked, strawberries may lose their nutritional benefits much quicker than other fruits and veggies. If it’s not strawberry season, however, don’t give up their benefits. Berries in the freezer section are usually frozen within two days of being picked and retain most of their nutrients, so they’re a great standby to have in the fridge.
Strawberries are number one on the Environmental Working Guide’s “dirty dozen” list of the most pesticide riddled foods. If you can, buy your strawberries organic or from the farmers’ market; but if that’s not possible, make sure to wash the berries very well before eating. Soak your strawberries in cold water for a while, then rinse them well under running water. Gently dry them individually with paper towel.
Strawberries are a delight all by themselves, but there are so many simple things you can do to make them even tastier. CFYL’s Microwave Strawberry Compote is easy, and for a quick summer dessert, try our Strawberries With Vanilla Cream. Our Strawberry and Rhubarb Compote is also delicious and perfect for spring and summer. Frozen strawberries are an excellent substitute for fresh in any recipe where the berries are eventually cooked, or to whip up a quick gelato such as our Super Simple Gelato.