The heart-shaped silhouette of the strawberry is the first clue that this fruit is good for you. These potent little packages protect your heart, increase HDL (good) cholesterol, lower your blood pressure, and guard against cancer. Packed with vitamins, fiber, and particularly high levels of antioxidants known as polyphenols, strawberries are a sodium-free, fat-free, cholesterol-free, low-calorie food. They are among the top 20 fruits in antioxidant capacity and are a good source of manganese and potassium. Just one serving -- about eight strawberries -- provides more vitamin C than an orange.
One cup of strawberries contains over 13% of the RDA of dietary fiber, yet only 43 calories. The dietary fiber in strawberries helps keep digestion regular, lowers blood pressure and curbs overeating.
Strawberries contain a chemical compound called phenols. Anthocyanin, a particular phenol abundantly found in strawberries, lends its rich red color to the fruit. Though anthocyanin is known to have antioxidant properties within the fruit, it is debated as to whether the antioxidant agents in anthocyaninrich foods can be absorbed into the body once digested. Fortunately, it is known that when anthocyanin-rich foods are consumed, the body's uric acid levels increase, which serves as an antioxidant agent.
The phenols in strawberries also fight against many inflammatory disorders, such as osteoarthritis, asthma and atherosclerosis, by inhibiting the enzyme cyclooxygenase (COX) in the same way that the drugs aspirin and ibuprofen do. Strawberries, however, do not carry unwanted side effects like stomach and intestinal bleeding.
The combination of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agents (vitamin C, folate, flavonoids quercetin and Kaempferol) found in strawberries is well-known to fight against the onset of many different forms of cancer.
The Archives of Ophthalmology recently published a study in which three or more servings of strawberries (and other fruits) per day can decrease the possibility of contracting age-related macular degeneration by over one-third.
The Vigorous Vitamin C:
One cup of strawberries contains an incredible 136% of the RDA of vitamin C, an effective antioxidant that can help lower blood pressure, ensure a healthy immune system, and ward off the development of age-related ocular diseases, such as cataracts and macular degeneration.
One cup of strawberries contains 21% of manganese, an essential nutrient that acts as a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent. By increasing the levels of superoxide dismutase (SOD), the enzyme responsible for protecting mitochondria exposed to oxygen, manganese not only helps to fight the battle against free radicals and oxidative stress, but also lessens cellular inflammation -- another cause of numerous cardiovascular diseases.
Manganese is also great for the bones, helping in bone building and maintaining proper bone structure. The potassium, vitamin K, and magnesium in strawberries are also important for bone health.