Strawberries: Cooking, Baking, Health and Nutrition of This Delicious Low-fat Fruit

I think I've only ever met one person who didn't like strawberries – and he was crazy! These delectable soft fruits have a short natural season, (although the expensive hothoused ones are available year-round) and one that most of us are eager to make the most of. Occurring and available in both cultivated and wild varieties, these succulent soft red berries are covered with small yellow seeds and arise from white flowered ground-hugging plants that shoot and sucker easily for propagation. They belong to the genus Fragaria and the family Rosaceae.



Nutritionally strawberries have a lot to offer anyone who may be interested in weight-loss and the health benefits of adding more fruit to your diet. With zero grams of fat per one hundred and fifty-two gram portion, those following a low-fat diet may well find them to be an invaluable (as well as yummy and pain-free) aid in sticking to it. If a diet higher in fiber and all of the benefits it can bring is your aim, then strawberries provide a healthy three grams per 152 gram serving, making up twelve per cent of the recommended daily value. Strawberries are also rich in Vitamin C and potassium.[4]



Are there any further phytochemical or antioxidant benefits to the ingestion of strawberries? A 2008 review by Arora, looking at studies by Shukitt-Hale et al and Youdim et al among others, is certainly somewhat suggestive. It came to the conclusion that the specific polyphenolics (a type of antioxidant) within strawberries, including ellagitannins, could positively influence some types of neurodegeneration in relation to ageing or irradiation damage, exceeding the potential benefits even of blueberries in this respect. (Blueberries were found to be superior in some other respects, however.)[3]



How about cooking and baking with strawberries? If you're faced with a glut and you really can't consume all the berry produce your garden is bountifully blessing you with, then... I want your garden! But also, you might consider a jolly jam-making session. Get yourself a good recipe and plenty of pectin and sugar (and plenty of jars!) Home-made strawberry jam: it's a kind of nectar!


Strawberry ice-cream, fresh fruit salad, strawberry pavlova, a rich gateau or a fruity souffle: you can probably think of a dozen different alternatives for using up any excess. That's if you don't just eat the lot with a little sugar and a dollop of cream! Strawberries are an excellent combination with sour cream, cheese, chocolate, shortcake and other berries. You can no doubt think of more options.


So, are strawberries difficult to grow? In my experience, not once you've got them well established: and the easy rooting of runners can only be a bonus. More strawberries effectively for free: how can this ever be a bad thing?


Are you looking to up the intake of brightly-coloured, healthful fruit and vegetables in your diet, in a pleasurable way that will make it easy? Strawberries are a great choice – don't forget to add some to your shopping basket!



References.


[1] Azzinia, E., Vitaglionea, P., Intorrea, F., Napolitanoa, A., Durazzoa, A.,Foddaia, M.S., Fumagallia, A. Catastaa, G., Rossia, L., Venneriaa, E., Raguzzinia, A., Palombaa, L., Foglianoa, V., Maiania, G. 'Bioavailability of strawberry antioxidants in human subjects.' British Journal of Nutrition. Cambridge University Press. 2010; 104:08, pp. 1165-1173.


[2] Arora, R. 'Herbal radiomodulators: applications in medicine, homeland defence and space.' Wallingford: CAB International; 2008, pp.155-157.


[3] Qureshi, G.A., Parvez, S.H. 'Oxidative stress and neurodegenerative disorders.' Amsterdam: Elsevier, B.V.; 2007, pp. 625-630.


[4] Nutritiondata. 'Strawberries, raw.' Nutritiondata website. Available at <http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/fruits-and-fruit-juices/2064/2> Accessed on 18/10/2010.

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