Love strawberries? Discover the many health benefits of this delicious fruit, plus try my super easy, tasty Strawberry Basil Lemonade recipe!
Thank you to California Strawberries for sponsoring this post and inviting me to speak on strawberry nutrition at the California Strawberries field tour and luncheon. As always, my thoughts and opinions are 100% my own, and I love sharing my favorite foods with you that are not only healthy but delicious.
Are strawberries a superfood?
In my book, they sure are! And if we define superfoods as being rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, strawberries definitely fall into the superfood category. Good news, right?! Strawberries are a rich source of vitamin C. They’re also a good source of fiber, folate, and potassium, along with potent antioxidants like ellagic acid that offer a wide range of health and nutritional benefits.
Plus, they’re low in calories and super versatile for both sweet in savory strawberry recipes. Talk about a superstar fruit!
Health Benefits of Strawberries
Let’s take a deeper dive into the top health benefits of strawberries for brain, gut, heart, immune, and metabolic health.
Strawberries are good for your brain and may (along with blueberries) reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s disease by one-third. In fact, the MIND Diet, a dietary approach that combines the DASH diet with a Mediterranean diet, has been found to lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by 35-54% and improve cognitive function.
In addition, strawberries are a good source of folate, which is necessary for the proper functioning of the brain and nervous system and helps make DNA and other genetic material.
Research has shown people with low levels of folate in the blood may be more likely to have depression, and folate supplementation may make antidepressants more effective (1). Folate is also essential for pregnant women as it helps protect against neural tube birth defects.
Fiber is getting a lot of well-deserved attention these days. Not only because it helps with digestive health & a healthy gut microbiome but also because fiber may reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and colorectal cancer.
One serving of strawberries has 3 grams of fiber and, combined with other fiber-rich foods, can help you meet your goal of 25-30++ grams per day.
Note: If you’re following a low FODMAP diet for IBS, a low FODMAP serving is five medium strawberries (as of 3/30/22 per Monash), while a standard eight strawberry serving is high FODMAP due to fructose. However, if you regularly eat 8+ strawberries at one meal and feel good, continue to do so!
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Strawberries are rich in pectin, a soluble fiber that helps lower LDL cholesterol and reduces your risk of heart disease. And, folate in strawberries may decrease homocysteine which helps lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. One study suggests eating 3+ servings of strawberries and blueberries per week may reduce the risk of heart attacks by one-third in women. (2)
Additionally, regular consumption of strawberries may help lower blood pressure as they are a good source of potassium while also being low in sodium. This combination makes strawberries a delicious addition to the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet, as potassium relaxes the walls of blood vessels, which may help prevent high blood pressure and the risk of stroke.
Strawberries are an excellent source of vitamin C. One serving of strawberries (about eight) has 85 milligrams of vitamin c, which is more than one orange and 140% of the recommended daily value. Vitamin C is essential for immune health as it squelches free radicals and reduces the effects of oxidative stress on your body. This, in turn, may help prevent certain forms of cancer.
In addition, polyphenols in strawberries, like ellagic acid, act as antioxidants to help reduce inflammation making them a fabulous choice for anyone with autoimmune disease or chronic inflammation.
Combined, these nutrients in strawberries and other berries may help prevent certain forms of cancer. (3)
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Strawberries can help balance blood sugar levels. But did you know that one serving of strawberries has just 7 grams of naturally occurring sugar? When compared to some favorite fruits in the US (apples, oranges, bananas, and grapes), strawberries have about 1/2 the amount of naturally occurring sugar as these other fruits.
Combine that with the fiber in strawberries, and you have a low glycemic index fruit that can be a delicious addition to a weight loss or diabetic-friendly meal plan. Indeed regular consumption of strawberries and other berries, coupled with a healthy diet, can help lower the risk of metabolic syndrome by reducing blood pressure, blood sugar, and bad cholesterol.
Tips for Buying Fresh Strawberries
Come Spring here in San Diego, fresh strawberries are popping up in grocery stores and roadside stands everywhere. Whether you choose conventional or organic strawberries, wash them well just before eating. Or, if you wash them ahead of time, dry them well and spread them out on paper towels layered in their protective clamshell case in the refrigerator to prevent them from getting moldy.
Got more strawberries than your tummy will allow? Freeze them! Place washed and dried strawberries on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and freeze for at least 6 hours. Then transfer them to a freezer container and store them for several months.
And, while you’ll want to take advantage of using fresh, juicy, sweet strawberries in Spring and Summer, frozen strawberries are equally nutritious and a great way to enjoy strawberries year-round. Aim for 2-3 servings of strawberries and other berries each week to reap all the excellent health benefits!
And, before I share my Strawberry Basil Lemonade recipe with you, check out these cool California Strawberry farmer facts!
- Strawberries in California are harvested year-round. This means steady work for strawberry farmers and workers. They are also a high-yield crop, with 90% of US strawberries grown on less than 1% of California’s farmland.
- California strawberry farming has given Latinos more land ownership than any other major crop. In addition, 25% of Latino strawberry farmers have moved up the ladder of agricultural success, starting as strawberry pickers and becoming independent strawberry growers.
- They give back to the community. For example, California strawberry farmers have funded more than $2 million in scholarships for children of field workers, and they invest 97 cents of every farm dollar back into their communities.
- California Strawberry farmers are stewards of the environment. For example, bug vacuums (see photo) help conventional and organic strawberry farmers use fewer pesticides on strawberry crops. And drip irrigation + slow-release nitrogen allows California strawberry farmers to use less water and less fertilizer, resulting in fewer nitrates in groundwater systems.
Want to learn more about California strawberry farming practices? There’s lots of great info here –> Stewards of the Land at California Strawberries.
It’s SO easy to make fresh Strawberry Basil Lemonade!
- De-stem your fresh strawberries.
- Juice some lemons. I like this handheld lemon squeezer, and, as a bonus, you get to work out your muscles too!
- Toss the strawberries, lemon juice, and some fresh basil in a blender, and blend on high speed until pureed.
- Serve your Strawberry Basil Lemonade straight up, mix it with some sparkling water, or splash in a little vodka for a healthier happy hour cocktail. Cheers!
Strawberry Basil Lemonade
- 4 cups de-stemmed fresh strawberries
- Juice from 2 lemons
- 1 cup fresh basil, plus additional for garnish
- Optional, sparkling water
- Combine strawberries, lemon juice, and basil in a high speed blender. Blend on high speed until pureed.
- Serve straight up, over ice, or mixed with sparkling water.
More healthy strawberry recipes you’ll love!
Let’s Chat! Have you made Strawberry Basil Lemonade before? Did you learn something new about the health benefits of strawberries? What’s your favorite way to enjoy strawberries???