by Joan Bahr, MS RD CDE, Registered Dietitian, Certified Diabetes Educator at Southwest Health
Imagine a plump, succulent, beautiful red strawberry! Is your mouth watering? Strawberries are a delicious fruit – but did you know they are also VERY nutritious? First, here’s some strawberry facts that might shock you!
- Ninety percent of US households eat strawberries each year.
- Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Delaware have designated the strawberry as the official fruit of the state.
- The average strawberry has about 200 seeds – the little bumpy spots on the surface of the berry.
- The US is the leading producer of strawberries and supplies 20% of the world’s strawberries.
- California grows about 75% of US strawberries.
- The “largest strawberry” is located in Strawberry Point, Iowa – and sits atop the city hall.
The juicy details
Strawberries are packed with nutrients. Ounce for ounce, strawberries have more vitamin C than oranges. One cup of strawberries contains 53 calories, 1 gram of protein, 1 gram of fat, 13 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, 254 mg potassium, 2 micrograms of vitamin A, and 98 mg of vitamin C. The strawberry is filled with phytochemicals and flavonoids. The phytochemicals and flavonoids create the beautiful color in the strawberry and are responsible for its cancer-fighting compounds and disease prevention qualities. Vitamin C is what keeps our immune systems functioning. Strawberries also contain folate, which is a necessary ingredient for our bodies to make healthy new cells and prevent anemia. Folate is particularly helpful for expectant moms as it helps prevent birth defects in babies. The US guidelines for Americans recommends approximately two cups of fruit per day. Strawberries can be a tasteful part of fulfilling that fruit recommendation.
How to select and store strawberries
Choose berries with a deep, uniform red color and intact green caps. Do not sweeten your berries after picking them. Purchase strawberries that at dry and firm and be sure to remove any bruised or rotten berries from the container before storing. Keep your strawberries refrigerated. Never rinse or remove the green cap from strawberries before storing. And lastly, use or enjoy your strawberries within two to three days of purchase or picking them.
Strawberries can also be frozen or preserved for use during the winter. You may even choose to make strawberries into wonderful tasting jams and jellies.
Strawberries are used in a variety of recipes – from the simple bowl of fresh strawberries to elaborate strawberry desserts. But strawberries can also complement a protein meal. For example, strawberries can be included in a fruit relish served with baked fish. A simple elegant dessert using a meringue base with strawberries could become a favorite family celebration dessert, too. Consider adding strawberries to your diet as a fun, and easy, afternoon snack. How about a peanut butter/berry roll up? And of course, nothing beats the good, old fashioned fresh strawberry pie. Can you just see it? Bright red berries, with a light glaze topped with a dollop of freshly whipped cream—favorite summer dessert.
The use of strawberries can be simple: bowl of strawberries, sliced strawberries added to a lettuce salad, blended into a refreshing drink, sliced and served on top of a slice of angel food cake, or one of the most popular uses, large and succulent strawberries dipped in chocolate. Spring is here! Enjoy the delicious flavor and versatility of the strawberry.