One of the most beautiful 'fruits' found in nature, the strawberry, with its plump red appearance, and delicate texture, is rarely disliked by people. But what's even more interesting is that the strawberry isn't even a fruit, but a receptacle of the plant's flower. And those black dots on it that are often confused for seeds, are called achenes, and they are what form the actual fruit. What we end up eating is just the accessory tissue!
First found in Rome, the garden variety of strawberries date back to the late 18th century in France, where it was considered to be an aphrodisiac. Since then, it has become one of the most popular berry fruits across the world. It's no mystery that the delicious heart-shaped strawberry is not only good for your taste buds, but also for your health. Loaded with vitamins, fiber, antioxidants such as polyphenols, strawberries contain little or no fat, zero cholesterol, and is free of sodium. A super food by right, it's also a good source of potassium and manganese. And by the way, eight strawberries have more vitamin C than one orange!
Curious about the health benefits of this pretty fruit? Here are some pointers -
1. Immunity Booster: Humans are incapable of producing Vitamin C naturally, and therefore it's important for us to turn to external sources. About a cup of strawberries a day gives us our daily requirement of Vitamin C, which in return boosts our immunity, and works as a brilliant antioxidant. The vitamin C in strawberries also helps in the strengthening of the eye's cornea and retina.
2. Fights Cancer: Ellagic acid, found in strawberries, is known to control the growth of cancer cells. They also contain the antioxidants lutein and zeathancins that fight free radicals and reduce their ill effects on our system.
3. Helps in Skin Improvement: Give Vitamin C some more credit, as they help in the production of collagen in our body that contributes to the skin's elasticity.
4. Fights cholesterol: Ellagic acid and flavonoids in strawberries protect our hearts from bad cholesterol. Of course, it won't happen overnight, and you have to take them regularly.
5. It is anti-inflammatory: For those who are prone to arthritis, say genetically, can benefit from eating strawberries. The antioxidants and phytochemical in this berry fruit helps in the reduction of inflammation of the joints.
6. Keeps Blood Pressure in Check: Potassium found in strawberries is known to reduce high blood pressure, by balancing the effects of sodium in our system. In fact, this is one of the reasons why strawberries are considered to be really good for the heart!
7. Rich in fiber: A well balanced percentage of fiber in our diet is most important. And strawberries can give you that. It not only regulates digestion but can also help in controlling type 2 diabetes, since fiber helps the blood to absorb sugar. However, if you are diabetic, remember that you need to consume regulated quantities of strawberries - don't go overboard with them.
8. Great for Diet: Dietitians always recommend fruits and vegetables to their patients. Put strawberries on that list because the compound nitrate in them helps our blood flow and supply oxygen in the body, which in return assists your weight loss plans to a good extent.
Using it in Food
A delicious fresh strawberry smoothie can surely perk you up, or layer them onto a fresh cream cake, or smother a thick slice of bread with some strawberry preserve or simply bite into one straight - some of the best ways to eat a strawberry is in in the simplest of fashions. And while it goes beautifully with chilled champagne, you can also make a strawberry salsa with chopped strawberries, basil, honey, lemon zest, and balsamic vinegar. Apparently, it goes well with grilled chicken. Or just like that!
Strawberries and cream are an age-old way of enjoying this berry fruit, but to make a quick dessert you can dip one into dark chocolate and chill it for a while before serving. When it comes to beverages, you can blend some with milk and make a milkshake. A strawberry daiquiri is one of the most refreshing cocktails one can have, as long as it's made with fresh fruit. And this is just the beginning of what one can do with strawberries.
So, what is your favourite way of eating them?