What Are Strawberries?
Strawberries are a favorite summer fruit. They appear in everything from yogurt to desserts and salads. They're a low-glycemic food, meaning they have little effect on blood sugar. This makes them a tasty option for people looking to control or lower their glucose levels.
June is usually the best time to pick fresh strawberries, but they're available in supermarkets year-round. They're delicious raw or cooked in recipes ranging from sweet to savory.
Are Strawberries Berries?
This member of the rose family isn't really a fruit or a berry—strawberries are actually the enlarged receptacle of a flower. Grown in temperate climates across South America, North America, Asia, and Europe, they're one of the most popular berry fruits in the world.
Are Strawberries Good for You?
There's a lot to love about these sweet snacks. They're lower in calories and sugar than fruits like apples or bananas, yet they're high in fiber and other key nutrients.
The health benefits of strawberries are plentiful. They naturally deliver vitamins, fiber, and particularly high levels of antioxidants known as polyphenols—without any sodium, fat, or cholesterol. They are among the top 20 high-antioxidant fruits and are a good source of manganese and potassium. Just one serving—about eight berries—provides more vitamin C than an orange.
Strawberries also have minerals such as calcium, iron, potassium, folate, and magnesium, along with antioxidants called anthocyanins. Those are healthful plant compounds that give strawberries their red color.
The amount of anthocyanin goes up as the fruit ripens. That means the redder the fruit, the more antioxidants it has.
Health Benefits of Strawberries
The vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants in strawberries provide important health benefits. For example, strawberries are rich in vitamin C and polyphenols, antioxidant compounds that may help prevent some diseases.
The antioxidant compounds found in strawberries protect cells and tissue in your body by neutralizing unstable molecules called free radicals. Too many free radicals roaming around in your body can lead to oxidative stress, an imbalance that can harm cells and tissues.
By curbing free radicals and oxidative stress, the plant chemicals in strawberries may lower too high levels of inflammation that can hurt your immune system and contribute to several health conditions, including obesity.
In addition, the health benefits of strawberries include:
Improved insulin sensitivity
The polyphenols in strawberries improve insulin sensitivity in nondiabetic adults. Not only are strawberries low in sugar themselves, but they may also help you metabolize other forms of glucose.
Strawberries have anti-inflammatory effects that may help prevent skin damage. In one small study, strawberry-based cosmetic treatments protected skin exposed to harmful ultraviolet A radiation, especially when used in combination with the coenzyme Q10.
One small study showed the anti-inflammatory benefits of strawberries can also help protect other parts of your body, including your joints. For people with osteoarthritis and knee pain, strawberries could help reduce pain and swelling. In one study, adults who ate 50 grams of strawberries each day for 24 weeks had less pain and inflammation.
Lowered risk of cardiovascular disease
Researchers have found that strawberries may promote heart health in a number of ways. Along with helping improve your body's sensitivity to insulin, they may lower fats in your blood called triglycerides and lower total and LDL cholesterol. LDL is the "bad" kind of cholesterol.
Regularly eating them may also protect your heart by helping your blood vessels work better and lowering your blood pressure.
Better gut health
Eating high-fiber foods like fruits can help you have regular bowel movements and ease occasional constipation. Strawberries also serve as a prebiotic. That means you feed "good" gut bacteria when you eat them. Researchers have found that a healthy gut microbiome can help your body better use antioxidants, like the anthocyanin found in strawberries.
Possible lowered risk of cancer
People who eat a lot of fruits and vegetables are generally less likely to get cancer compared with people who eat less nutrient-rich foods. What's more, certain antioxidants found in strawberries may slow the growth of cancer cells. But scientists are still trying to pinpoint exactly how chemical compounds found in strawberries may aid in cancer prevention or treatment.
Brain health protection
Long-term research shows that people who eat antioxidant-rich fruits like blueberries and strawberries have slower rates of decline in thinking and memory as they age. They're also less likely to get Alzheimer's disease, the most common form of dementia. Scientists think the fruit's anti-inflammatory effects play a big role in how berries protect the brain.
Strawberries are safe for most people, but it's possible to have an allergic reaction to some of the chemical compounds found in these and other berry fruits.
People who are allergic to birch pollen are more likely to have an allergic reaction when they eat strawberries or other fruits. You may hear this called oral allergy syndrome or pollen-food allergy syndrome. It happens when your immune system reacts to proteins in strawberries the same way it does to pollen allergens.
Allergic reactions to strawberries usually cause symptoms such as itchy bumps, tingling, or swelling of your lips, mouth, tongue, or throat. Less often, a strawberry allergy can make you sick to your stomach or cause a skin reaction if you touch the fruit. Rarely, you may have trouble breathing (anaphylaxis). Call 911 right away if this happens.
Strawberry Nutrition Facts
Strawberries' high levels of vitamin C and other antioxidants help reduce the risk of serious health conditions like cancer, diabetes, stroke, and heart disease.
They're also an excellent source of:
- Vitamin K
Nutrients per serving
A 1-cup serving contains:
- Calories: 45
- Protein: 1.11 gram
- Fat: 0.498 grams
- Carbohydrates: 12.7 grams
- Fiber: 3.32 grams
- Sugar: 7 grams
Strawberry serving size
Like most fruits, strawberries are fat-free. They're also low in carbohydrates, with just 12.7 grams of carbs in a cup of strawberries. They do contain sugar, but it's not added sugar. Their fiber also slows down your body's absorption of natural sugars.
How to Choose Strawberries
Choose medium-sized berries that are firm, plump, and deep red. Once picked, they don't ripen further.
Are darker strawberries sweeter?
Redder berries are riper than pink or greenish fruits, and their sugar content goes up as they ripen. At the same time, the acidity goes down. That means darker berries are likely to taste sweeter than their lighter counterparts.
How to Store Strawberries
The U.S. Department of Agriculture Pesticide Data Program found that strawberries are often contaminated with pesticide residue. After you bring the berries home, wash them under running water, dry them, remove their caps—where most of the pesticide residue is found—and refrigerate them in an airtight container lined with a paper towel. The paper towel will help absorb any excess moisture.
Cut off any rotten or bruised pieces before you store them. They'll last about a week in the fridge.
Store them separately from any meat, poultry, or fish in your refrigerator.
How to Prepare Strawberries
Strawberries are found in the produce aisles of most supermarkets. You can also pick your own at farms during their peak season.
You can use them in custards, fruit salads, baked goods, and green salads.
Here are some ways to use them in recipes:
- Make pancakes with strawberry slices instead of blueberries
- Slice them into a kale salad with goat cheese and slivered almonds
- Top a cheesecake with whole or sliced strawberries
- Stir them into plain yogurt
- Fill with whipped cream or crème fraîche for a dessert or snack
- Add frozen strawberries to smoothies
Try out these recipes to get more of the health benefits of strawberries in your diet:
Makes four servings:
2 cups baby spinach, rinsed and dried
2 cups arugula, rinsed and dried
2 cups strawberries (about 1 pint), hulled and sliced
2 ounces crumbled goat cheese
3 tablespoons pecans, toasted and chopped
2 small green onions, sliced
1 pound shrimp, cleaned and deveined
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon honey mustard
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh chopped basil
Pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper
- Combine all salad ingredients except shrimp in a large bowl. Toss gently.
- Make the dressing: Whisk the vinegar and mustard together in a small bowl; slowly whisk in olive oil. Add basil and season with salt and pepper.
- Grill the shrimp: Heat and oil an outdoor or stove-top grill. When hot, add shrimp and grill 3-4 minutes on each side until slightly charred and cooked through. Remove from heat.
- Divide salad among four plates. Arrange grilled shrimp on top.
- Drizzle dressing over each and serve.
Protein: 23 grams
Carbohydrates: 12.5 grams
Fat: 12.8 grams (saturated fat: 4 grams)
Cholesterol: 177 milligrams
Fiber: 2.5 grams
Sodium: 306 milligrams
Calories from fat: 45%
Strawberries are a sweet fruit low in sugar and calories but high in fiber, vitamin C, and other antioxidants that support your health. As part of a nutritious diet, strawberries may lessen your odds of getting several chronic diseases. Add fresh or frozen strawberries to salads, smoothies, and desserts to enjoy their health benefits.
- What are five benefits of strawberries?
Vitamins, minerals, and other plant compounds in strawberries may help your brain stay sharp as you age. Antioxidants in strawberries, including vitamin C, can support your immune system and may lower your chances of getting sick when you're around germs.
They may also help curb inflammation, manage your blood sugar, and guard against health conditions like high cholesterol, cancer, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
- How many strawberries per day is OK?
Studies show people who eat ½ a cup of strawberries (four medium fruits) or blueberries three times each week get health benefits. But there's no specific amount that's right for everyone. In general, consider a daily serving size to equal about 1 cup or eight medium strawberries.
Your best bet is to eat strawberries (or any fruit) in moderation. If you consume too many fruit sugars and fibers, you may get digestive symptoms such as stomach pain, bloating, diarrhea, or gas.