Strawberry: nutrition facts and health benefits

Strawberry

Strawberry is a small fleshy and red fruit that grows on the strawberry. There are more than 600 varieties, some being grown commercially for almost year-round. These have been developed to ensure great fruit firm, easily transportable, but tasteless production. The ancestor of all these varieties is the wild strawberry, so-called “Strawberry Woods”.

History of the strawberry

Strawberry originated both in Asia, Europe and America. On these three continents, there were about 35 species which show the diversity of climates where the plant is established. It was likely spread by birds that had no difficulty to carry the small bay for its tiny seeds over long distances. Our Neolithic ancestors consumed, and 1,000 years before our era, the Romans grew them in their gardens. However, it will be a true culture trade only from the 15th century. The English, then the Dutch then improve the wildlife species which grew in abundance in the surrounding woods to get more large fruits, especially from the species f. vesca. Until the beginning of the 18th century, this species will mainly grow in European gardens.

However, as early as the 16th century, it grew, free from the walls of the botanical gardens, a strawberry plant with big fruit and a darker red (f. virginiana) that explorers had reported in the northeast of the United States. But 200 years after its culture didn’t actually spread. It happened when people brought to America another species (f. chiloensis).

It’s a French spy named predestined Amédée François Frézier, whose mission was to “obsrve” the fortifications harbour of Chile and Peru, who finded the strawberry. He had noticed that the Picunches and the Mapuche of Chile cultivated and consumed its fruit in different ways: fees, dried or turned into an alcohol they offered strawberries to important visitors. From this union, consecrated in European land, between two plants of American origin, was born a new species, and very quicky it peovided most of the world production of strawberries. It’s called f. x ananassa (strawberry pineapple) due to the flavor of its fruit, which is similar to the pineapple.

However, the French have remained attached to their small wild strawberries they find infinitely more fragrant than the hybrid American ones. In season, it can be found in local markets. It is grown in home gardens.

The strawberry health profile

Strawberry is an ingredient of choice to make some sumptuous desserts, and it goes well with salads. Rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, it would prevent cancer and several other diseases.

The benefits of strawberry

In general, several forward-looking and epidemiological studies have observed a high consumption of fruits and vegetables decreased the risk of disease cardiovascular, cancers and other chronic diseases.

Cancer. Studies have shown that daily consumption of a good amount of fresh or frozen strawberries (1 1/2 cups to 2 cups) to increase the body’s antioxidant ability (measured in the blood and the urine). Strawberries would be effective to reduce the risk of cancer and improve the defenses of the body against chronic diseases. In addition, lyophilisees strawberries inhibit effectively the appearance of different types of breast and brain cancers. Experiments among rats showed a diet enriched in dehydrated strawberries decreased the proliferation of tumours if the oesophage. Finally, strawberry extracts have proved effective in preventing the proliferation of human cancer cells of the colon and the cervix.

Cardiovascular disease. Research indicates that flavonoids (present in strawberries) can reduce the risk of atherosclerosis, one of the processes leading to cardiovascular disease. A prospective study in postmenopausal women showed the consumption of more than one serving of strawberries per week was associated with a reduced risk of mortality by cardiovascular disease. In addition, studies have shown consumption of strawberries, in the form of extract, strawberries lyophilisees or added to the diet allowed to reduce oxidation of the ‘bad’ cholesterol (LDL). The consumption of strawberries would also help reduce total cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol and lestriglycerides among obese people.

Inflammation. According to the results of in vitro experiments, extracts of strawberries have an anti-inflammatory effect. The process of inflammation are involved in several diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease, cancer and cardiovascular disease.

What is in the strawberry?

Phenolic compounds

Flavonoids are the major phenolic compounds present in the stawberry. They give the red color of strawberries are among the compounds contributing the most to its antioxidant ability. The flavonoids include anthocyanins, which have a protective effect against the cancer. They also worthwhile the growth of human cancer cells of the colon, prostate and oral cavity. However, it is noted the doses used in these studies are higher than one would find in a ‘normal’ strawberry portion.

Strawberry is rich in ellagic acid, but it contains less than raspberry. Ellagic acid is the main component of ellagitanins, a phenolic compound in the family of the tannins. It is recognized for its antioxidant and anticancer properties, as well as for its antimicrobial activities and in vitro antiviral. Among humans, the beneficial effects of ellagic acid are not yet clearly defined and would possibly be mitigated by its passing through the digestive system.

The strawberry jam and it’s antioxidant effect

Strawberry cooking results in a loss of 15% to 20% of the content in flavonoids, as well as a loss of phenolic compounds and the anthocyanidin. These antioxidant substances are still present in the strawberry jam. Some flavonoids and ellagic acid are not a major loss and could even slightly increase with the duration of storage of the jam, 3, 6 and 9 months. This effect would be attributable to the deterioration of the cells structure, allowing extraction of flavonoids and the presence of sugar which may have a protective effect on these antioxidants. The antioxidant capacity is ultimately somewhat similar in the jam and fesh strawberry.

In the case of diverticulosis, can strawberries be eaten?

It was long believed that people with diverticulosis should not consume some fruits (raspberries, blackberries, strawberries…) for fear their seeds are placed in the diverticulosis. However, no clinical study was made to validate this hypothesis. According to a expert committee from the American College of Gastroenterology, it is not necessary to exclude these foods in the case of diverticulosid. However, in some individuals, the small seeds of fruits may irritate the gut. It may be wise for these people to consult a dietitian-nutritionist.

Selection and conservation

Choose

The best strawberries are the ones we pick ourselves, in his garden or at the farm. It is always better to pick them in the morning, while the fruits are still well firm and full of flavor.

You can also buy them directly from the producer, which harvested them in the morning, which usually isn’t the case of strawberries offered in grocery stores.

The fruit must be in a good shape and be brilliant red, the green stalk should look fresh.

Keep

Refrigerator. Two or three days. Do not pile them up and wash them just before serving them. You have to wash them quickly, keeping their stem in order to avoid they will soak water. Drain, clean and serve them as soon as possible. Also avoid hermetic packaging, fruit need to breathe.

Freezer. Wash the fruit in ice water, trimm, drain and place them on a plate apart. Freeze quickly in the coldest part of the freezer. Then put them in a bag in the freezer, ideally in a single layer. You can also roll them in sugar before freezing in the same way.

To thaw, spread them in a single layer on a plate and eat them as soon as possible.

Organic gardening

Except the wood strawberry, which can reproduce by seeds, farmers multiply the plant by division of the roots or by rooting stolons (creeping stems which produce roots from place to place). Buy a certified virus-free plants. Keep the plants in the refrigerator until ready to plant them.

Plant in a rather sandy earth, but rich in soil, well drained and sunny, if possible slightly sloping. Avoid the lower parts of the garden, or ‘holes of jelly’, where the cold air streams come together. Choose a place which, in the previous 2 years, did not of tomatoes, peppers, potatoes and eggplants in order to avoid the risk of diseases strawberry share with these plants.

pH: 5 to 7, but ideally 6 to 6.5.

Plant in simple rows or flowerbeds, spacing 45 cm to 60 cm for the varieties to stolon, and 30 cm for the varieties of alpine plants.

The first year, remove the flowers for the establishment of the plant and the growth of stolons. Cover with straw as soon as they put down roots.

The plant, which has shallow roots, must be irrigated regularly. Pay special attention to watering at planting, with the formation of stolons, during fruiting, and at the end of the summer when the flower buds which will give the next year’s harvest are formed.

Brighten the rooted runners so that they are spaced 15 cm. From mid-August, eliminate all new runners.

Late fall, when the ground is frozen to a depth of 1.5 cm, new mulch to protect plants from Frost.

While it is perennial, it is best to regenerate every 3 or 4 years planting, because his performance decreases from year to year.

In the fall, cut and remove the leaves of the plants in order to reduce the risk of disease.

In case of frost at flowering time, protect plants with an agrotextile, an old blanket or other suitable material.

Some susceptible varieties grow easily on a balcony in the city. Jars pierced, pierced several openings or plastic bags to hang them too, are perfect for this type of culture.

Ecology and environment

According to the Environmental Working Group of the United States, cultivated strawberries would be part of the 12 most contaminated by chemical residues. The agency based its findings on data from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on the levels of pesticide residues.

Note that all the products had been washed prior to analysis, in order to take account of reality, namely consumers usually wash their fruits and vegetables before eating. In short, washing does not eliminate all pesticide residues. Where the recommendation of the Environmental Working Group says to focus on strawberries grown organically.

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