Are Strawberries A Healthy Snack?

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Strawberries are one of the best healthy snack ideas. They’re sweet enough for kids, adults, and grandparents yet pack a powerful antioxidant punch that’s low in calories. This past weekend was Memorial Day and for those of you who aren’t from San Diego, a little north of here within the county limits is a town called Carlsbad. Each spring the town gets put into the spotlight because of its decently size strawberry fields. The owners of the strawberry fields open up their land to the public and make it available for people to come in and hand pick strawberries. I’ve never done it before but my wife has and since we were doing some shopping in the area we decided to go check it out. Turns out – it’s a blast!

A Healthy Snack
I’ve always loved strawberries and whether or not you’re already a healthy individual strawberries hold some excellent nutritional values. They’re also great for anyone who is trying to prevent cancer or anyone who is living life with any number of diseases from diabetes, obesity and being overweight, heart disease, etc.

Nutritional Facts of Strawberries
Let’s start out with the basics. Strawberries are naturally sweet, yet they only have on average of 1.5 to 2 calories per strawberry (1). I’m assuming just one won’t fill you up (nor should it because they’re just so amazing) but assume you have ten, that’s only about twenty calories for a sweet savory snack. Ten strawberries also contains about 100mg of vitamin C – more than the RDA for vitamin C (1). Current RDA for vitamin C is 75mg for females and 90mg for males (2).

For those who aren’t hip on Vitamin C, it’s responsible for a variety of cell functions (what isn’t?), a powerful antioxidant (which helps to prevent cell damage and cancer), immune system booster, and is important for protecting those eyes of yours. Vitamin C is also responsible for collagen formation (a protein structure in your body that helps with bone and blood vessel structure and all connective tissues in your body). Think of collagen as the tissue in your face that keeps your skin elastic, tight, and young looking (3)

More Health Benefits of Strawberries!
In one of our other posts we discussed the differences of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids For more on that read here. One of the main takeaways from that post was the importance of a ratio of getting a near 1:1 ratio of omega-3 to omega-6. Strawberries also contain a small amount of both omega-3 and omega-6. Ten strawberries come pretty darn close to that ratio – 117mg of omega-3 to 162mg of omega-6 (1). All the benefits of omega-3 and omega-6 can be read in the article mentioned above.

One Last Health Benefit To Strawberries
As you’ve read so far, strawberries have numerous important health benefits. One last major health benefit of strawberries is that they contain a certain type of plant steroid called phytosterols. Phytosterols are only found in plants and numerous studies on populations of people show reduced cancer risks amongst people who regularly consume fruit and vegetables (the most common are stomach cancer, breast cancer, lung cancer, and bladder cancer (1). Phytosterols have MANY benefets (far too many to name here) but the phytosterol specific to strawberries is ellagic acid. That little guy has powerful antioxidant effects and anticancer effects (4).

Now that you’re in the know about the health benefits of strawberries, how will you go about making them into a healthy snack for yourself? Anyone have a good healthy recipe of strawberry shortcake to share?

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3. Hampl, Jeffry S. Wardlaw, Gordon, M. Perspectives in Nutrition. 7th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill Companies Inc., 2007. 39-40, 365-367.

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