Strawberries Are One of the Healthiest Foods to Eat—Here's Why (Plus 5 Delicious Recipes)
Though strawberry season seemed eons away when we were indulging in chocolate-dipped versions all of February, it’s finally right around the corner. (June is prime time, and they remain in season all the way through October).
I’m sure you don’t need to be convinced that this sweet little fiber-filled fruit is near-perfect. Regardless, I’m going to try.
For starters, a serving of strawberries packs more vitamin C than most citrus fruits. “One cup of strawberries packs 85 milligrams of vitamin C. That’s over 140 percent of the daily value for vitamin C and more than what you'd get from a single orange,” says Jenn LaVardera, RD, a nutrition expert for Naturipe Farms. “Vitamin C is an antioxidant nutrient that protects cells from free radical damage. It also plays a role in the immune system, helps the body absorb iron, and helps make collagen.”
In addition to vitamins and minerals, strawberries are loaded with phytochemicals, such as anthocyanins, ellagitannins, and quercetin, says LaVardera. “These are the compounds we think of as antioxidants, and they give strawberries anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer benefits, help fight against diabetes and strengthen brain health.” Strawberries are also packed with fiber, which is a key nutrient for good gut health, regulating blood sugar levels, and keeping cholesterol in check. One cup of strawberries provides 3 grams of dietary fiber.
Now that you know some of the wonderful ways strawberries can help get you on your healthy A-game, here are some clever ways to incorporate them into every meal.
Strawberries not perfectly sweet or insufficiently soft? Any fruit that’s a little tart, unripe, or too firm can be pickled. Use a quick sugar and vinegar pickle brine to make your not-quite-ready-for-prime-time fruit into a delicious (and unexpected) condiment. Once pickled, they’ll keep for a day or two in your fridge.
Heat strawberries on the stove over low heat with a splash of water and the seasoning of your choice (we love a little apple juice and lemon zest). They’ll soften and start to macerate, which forms a naturally sweet cooked strawberry sauce you can drizzle over yogurt, ice cream, desserts, pork loin, or swap in as a low-sugar substitute for jam. Any other fruit—and overripe is fine—can be added to your favorite strawberries for variety and flavor.
Wash, trim, and slice up your strawberries before tossing them in the freezer. This way, you can pop them into smoothies, oatmeal, or fold into ice cream all year long. FYI, berries (whether frozen or not) at peak ripeness are actually more nutritious than their out-of-season counterparts.
DIY Fruit Chips
If you have a dehydrator, great. If not, use your oven. Wash and evenly slice strawberries, then spread in a single layer on a silpat mat laying on a sheet pan and slowly dry them out at a low temperature. Dried berries are a delicious substitute for aimless snacking.
Toss sliced strawberries into salads with slightly spicy greens. Mizuna, arugula, and baby mustard greens all benefit from the sweet balance that sliced strawberries add to a salad. Remember, produce that grows at the same time tends to complement one another, so strawberries, peaches, green almonds, pecans, tomatoes, and spicy greens all pair perfectly.