May is Strawberry festival time! Enjoy these ruby-licious “nutritional
gems” while they are being harvested this month. Strawberries are not only loved by kids and teens,
but the great news is that strawberries have numerous health benefits. Research has shown that strawberries
can protect against heart disease, certain cancers, and Type 2 diabetes. There is also scientific evidence
that consuming 2-3 servings of strawberries per week can slow the onset of age-related cognitive impairment.
These sweet berries not only resemble a heart, but are heart-healthy
too: regular consumption of strawberries can increase HDL (good) cholesterol and lower blood pressure.
Strawberries can also help regulate blood sugar levels (due to their high fiber content and low glycemic load).
In one study, researchers found that a cup of strawberries, when eaten with table sugar, actually prevented
blood sugar spikes!
What makes strawberries a true nutritional powerhouse is their antioxidant capacity.
Strawberries are ranked among the top antioxidant foods that you can eat. (Antioxidants neutralize
disease-causing free radical scavengers that steal electrons from our health cells.)
Strawberries are also an excellent
source of Vitamin C - just one cup contains 150 percent of the recommended daily allowance! In the two
recipes featured this month, we have paired strawberries with two foods – spinach and dark chocolate – both of
which are rich in iron. The body can only absorb the iron in these foods if they are eaten with foods that
contain Vitamin C, like our strawberries! This is particularly important during adolescent years.
Strawberries also contain the trace
mineral manganese, which is essential for the body to absorb calcium and maintain healthy bones. So, eat
a cup of strawberries a day (or a cup 3 times a week) and enjoy the many "valuable" health
benefits of this "nutritional gem"!