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The Health Benefits Of Strawberries For Older Adults

One cup of strawberries provides 149 per cent of our vitamin C requirements.
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Unsplash Artur Rutkowski

Strawberries are the most popular berry in the world. After all, what's not to love about their vibrant red color, juicy flesh and sweet taste? They're also hardy, easy to grow and prolific. But there's so much more to this heart-shaped summer fruit. Strawberries are super healthy, with many benefits for older adults. No wonder the scientific research on the health benefits of strawberries abounds.

Calories in Strawberries

When we think of getting our vitamin C, we typically focus on citrus fruit. In fact, strawberries are an equally potent source of this powerful antioxidant. One cup of strawberries provides 149 per cent of our vitamin C requirements. This fragrant fruit also supplies 12 per cent of our daily fiber needs and is a rich source of vitamin K, vitamins B6 and B12, folate, potassium and manganese. That's a lot of nutrition packed into a mere 50 calories per cup.

The Nutritional Value of Strawberries

1. Strawberries lessen diabetes-related risks.

Research conducted at California's Salk Institute for Biological Studies, and reported in peer-reviewed PLOS ONE, shows that the flavonoids in strawberries prevent kidney and brain complications that commonly occur with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

2. Strawberries protect your heart.

Scientists from the Harvard School of Public Health analyzed questionnaires from 93,600 women. They found that respondents who ate three or more servings of strawberries or blueberries each week, both rich in compounds known as anthocyanins, experienced a 32% reduction in heart attacks compared with those who ate berries once a month or less. This applied even if non-berry-consuming women ate a diet rich in other fruits and vegetables.

3. Strawberries contain free-radical fighting antioxidants.

Strawberries have one of the highest concentrations of antioxidants, which soak up harmful free radicals. Free radicals are substances that damage DNA and contribute to the aging process.

4. Strawberries protect your skin from UVA rays.

A team of Italian and Spanish researchers demonstrated that strawberry extract added to skin cell cultures protects against ultraviolet radiation and reduces damage to DNA.

5. Strawberries enhance cognitive and motor function in aging.

Food has the power to boost brain health, and the nutrient profile of strawberries has been shown to have powerful effects on the way our minds work.

How to Fully Reap the Benefits of Strawberries

Strawberries hold the dubious distinction of ranking first on the Environmental Working Group's Dirty Dozen List, which means that they have the highest pesticide content of any fruit or vegetable. As such, you definitely should buy organic. If you take beta blockers, be sure to minimize your strawberry consumption because the fruit contains high levels of potassium.

Ever versatile, strawberries go well in salads, smoothies and Greek yogurt, or atop waffles and pancakes. Use them in shortcake or dip them in dark chocolate.

Can't wait for your strawberries to ripen? No worries, it's now avant-garde to use green strawberries. Chefs are experimenting, and the tart morsels are popping up on restaurant menus everywhere. Martha Stewart has joined the trend with her recipe for pickled green strawberries paired with Nordic cheeses and rye crackers. To enjoy strawberries year-round, you can freeze or preserve them.

Lorie Eber is a Certified Nutritionist and Gerontology Instructor who provides one-on-one weight loss coaching. She's also certified by the Mayo Clinic as a Wellness Coach and a NASM Personal Trainer. She's the author of 40 Ways to Leave Your Lover: That Would be Junk Food and How to Stay Healthy in A World Designed to Make Us Fat and Lazy.

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