The birds are chirping, the flowers are blooming, and the strawberry vines are producing fruit, which means that spring has finally arrived! In fact, these berries are the first fruit to ripen in the spring, which explains why May is National Strawberry Month. To celebrate, here are nine surprising facts about these luscious, nutrient-packed strawberries that will sweeten your love for this versatile fruit.
They’re a superfruit
Not only do strawberries provide fiber, potassium, folate and antioxidants, they also contain several bioactive compounds (called flavonoids) that are known to help protect against chronic diseases. Plus, these little red gems pack in more vitamin C than an orange — about 160 percent of your daily requirement. And one serving of fresh strawberries (8 berries or 1 cup) contains just 50 calories and is low in naturally-occurring sugar. That’s pretty darn super.
They can do wonders for your heart
Strawberries are a proven heart-healthy food since they’ve been shown to lower risk of heart attack and stroke, thanks to their ability to lower LDL cholesterol, inflammation and blood pressure. In fact, one study with middle-aged women reported that those who ate at least three servings per week of anthocyanin-rich strawberries (as well as blueberries) reduced their risk of a heart attack by more than 30 percent. The reason: Researchers believe that the combination of vitamin C, folate, fiber, potassium and flavonoids contribute to the cardiovascular benefits of this heart-shaped fruit.
They’re loaded with seeds
Have you ever noticed those tiny bumps on the outside of strawberries? Those bumps are actually seeds—otherwise known as the plant’s ovaries—making strawberries one of the only fruits to have seeds on its exterior. On average, each berry contains 200 seeds, which contributes to this already fiber-rich treat.
They can whittle your waistline
Since numerous studies show that those who eat more fruits and veggies weigh less and have smaller waistlines, you may want to add this low-cal, high-fiber berry to your everyday eating plan. In a study conducted by Harvard School of Public Health with more than 124,000 health professionals, researchers found that participants who ate the most flavonoid-rich diets gained the least amount of weight over time.
They’re more than just a shortcake’s sidekick or the main ingredient in jam
Strawberries and cream? Strawberry shortcake? Whether you enjoy them on their own or on top of a stack of pancakes, there’s no denying that these juicy and naturally-sweet berries make everything taste better. Even better, they’re one of kids’ favorite fruits, so there won’t be any food fights required to get kids to eat them. Need ideas? Dip them in chocolate, toss them in salads, add them in sandwiches (have you tried peanut butter and sliced strawberries?), salsa, and smoothies or use them as topping on everything from yogurt to waffles. Try one of my favorite skinny and fresh desserts: Strawberry Cheesecakes Bites.
They’re an all-American fruit
Now here’s yet another reason to salute the flag: The United States grows more strawberries than any other country, with an annual production of about 3 billion pounds! While these berries are grow in all 50 states, California’s coastal conditions —cool evenings and sunny, warm days – is the preferred climate for growing delicious strawberries, which explains why 90 percent of the U.S. crop is grown in The Golden State. (FYI: Florida ranks as the second-largest producing state in the union.)
They can lower blood sugar
Say goodbye to soaring insulin because the bioactive flavonoids in strawberries may help keep your blood sugars in check. In fact, studies show that eating strawberries before a sugar-rich meal can dampen the blood sugar response from food—a reaction that is thought to be one of the primary ways that strawberries help reduce one’s risk of developing insulin resistance, as well as type 2 diabetes.
They help keep your mind sharp
Antioxidant-rich strawberries may help keep your brain mentally fit, even as you age. Numerous animal model studies found that when animals were fed strawberry supplements, improvements were noted in spatial orientation, memory and cognition. Investigators involved in other studies have identified specific flavonoids in the fruit that may help prevent memory loss. And while further research is necessary, mounting evidence already suggests that these sweet and tasty berries may help reduce risk of age-related declines in memory.
They’re also delicate
If you don’t gobble down an entire package of fresh berries all at once (no judgment: I’ve eaten a basket of strawberries on my way home from the farmer’s market on numerous occasions!), you’ll want to store them in the refrigerator in their original container (just make sure to remove any moldy berries). Also, to retain their freshness, don’t wash or remove their green caps before storing. Save the washing for when you’re about to pop them into your mouth.