Herbs & Plants: Strawberries – The enormous health benefits

Botanically, the strawberry belongs to the Rosaceae plant family and the Fragaria ananassa species. It is the world’s most popular berry and is widely appreciated for its characteristic aroma, bright red colour, juicy texture and sweetness. Research provides substantial evidence to classify strawberries as a functional food with several preventive and therapeutic health benefits.

Strawberries are a rich source of phytochemicals (ellagic acid, anthocyanins, quercetin, and catechin) and vitamins (ascorbic acid and folic acid). The fruit is highly ranked among dietary sources of polyphenols and antioxidants. Commercially, strawberries are available as processed products such as jams, juices, nectar, and puree, and are extensively used as a popular berry ingredient.

Among berries, the strawberry is a rich source of several nutritional and non-nutritional bioactive compounds, which are implicated in various health-promoting and disease-preventing effects such as; the prevention of inflammation disorders and oxidative stress, reduction of obesity-related disorders and heart disease risk and protection against various types of cancer.

Strawberries are known for their enormous health benefits and their regular consumption is very good for a healthy heart. This is due to the fact that the fruit contains vital compounds like anthocyanin which is important for lowering the risk of heart attacks. The abundance of antioxidants and polyphenols in strawberries makes them the ideal food to protect one’s heart from ailments.

In addition, strawberries have a high quantity of potassium, which plays an important role in buffering the effects of sodium in the body, hence, helping to prevent high blood pressure. It is important to note that the strawberry is important for boosting mental strength as one grows older. In fact, a healthy daily dose of berries in your diet plays a big role in staving off a number of diseases; including dementia in old age.

The high fibre content coupled with its high-water content makes strawberries vital for the prevention of constipation and bloating. Moreover, strawberries are known to contain more vitamin C than most fruits. Therefore, its regular consumption enables the body to get enough vitamin C, an antioxidant that can help to protect the body from oxidative stress.

Strawberries have anti-inflammatory properties that can help promote all-round wellbeing, consequently protecting one from stroke, heart attacks and cancer. Likewise, the intake of strawberries may help lower the risk of diabetes and hence reduce complications related to that condition. This is because they are packed with antioxidants, vitamins, and fibre, and have a low Glycemic Index (GI) (GI is a relative ranking of carbohydrates in foods according to how they affect blood glucose levels). Foods with a low GI cause a lower and slower rise in blood glucose making it more beneficial for diabetic patients.

Regular consumption of strawberries is very important for expectant mothers, as the fruit is loaded with folate or folic acid which is instrumental in a baby’s development and hence prevents neural tube defects.

A regular intake of strawberries has also been linked to a reduced risk of cancers, including oesophageal and lung cancer. The antioxidant capacity of strawberries is vital in fighting free radical compounds that cause chronic health issues.

Whether in fresh or processed forms, strawberries rank highly among the most popular berries and offer high nutritional and phytochemical contents, vital for the body’s wellbeing.

(Richard Komakech)

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