As we head into June in the midwest, one red jewel hits the local farmer’s markets: Strawberries! There is nothing like the locally grown berry. Fresh, sweet, juicy, red. And, there are so many pick your own places. Every summer mom would take us out picking.
I remember having hay imprints on my knees from kneeling down in between the rows. And, of course it was one for the basket, one for the mouth (the farm let us eat as we picked)! Fun stuff. It was a personal best to find the biggest, sweetest one lifting leaves and finding red rewards. We spent the early morning picking berries as a family. Then the rest of the day was in the kitchen washing them, making jam, pie and other creations.
So this week as we walk through the ABC’s of good things to eat, let’s take a look at a sweet S word: Strawberries.
Nothing new under the sun
I know, you may be thinking strawberries aren’t anything new, right? Most of us have eaten them and are familiar with how they grow, all the ways to eat them and try them. Many of us even know that these fruits are known for being naturally high in Vitamin C (1 cup has 140% of the daily recommended value), a good source of dietary fiber (1 cup has 3 grams of fiber), and that they contain good amounts of potassium (I cup has 220 mg). They have also been noted to contain ellagic acid which has evidence for fighting cancer diabetes, and inflammation (1).
But unfortunately, it’s not new that conventional strawberries in the grocery store continue to be found laden with pesticides and other chemicals. They continue to rank #1 on the 2017 list for foods that contain high levels of pesticides and fungicides (for more details, click here).
This is the one food that we always buy organic. Why? It is the actually berry that gets sprayed. If you have ever taken a very close look at the inside of a strawberry, you’ll notice how porous it actually is. That makes it very easy for the liquid pesticide spray to penetrate into the tissue. In other words, just washing the outside of the fruit really doesn’t help to eliminate all the pesticides from the berry.
It’s better to have a mouthful of nature’s bioactive compounds than man’s synthetic chemicals.
Good news that is new!
Recent studies have shown that strawberries may be beneficial for anti-aging. While these studies involve animals, the research is promising (2,3). Bioactive compounds (polyphenols) were found to improve the energy productivity in cells (from components in our cells called mitochondria), and decrease oxidative stress (also called antioxidant activity). Both of these factors help decrease the progression of aging in cells.
Savor the flavor
I usually like to give you a good idea or recipe to try. If you have a favorite, please share it by adding it to the comments below! Personally, I like to just enjoy them as is. Just plain as can be, full of their own sweetness and juiciness. Summer is a time to slow down and savor the flavor.
But, here is a fun recipe tip. As you notice your strawberries starting to not be so fresh in the fridge, throw them in an air tight container and freeze before they go bad/moldy. These can be added into a smoothie. You also can use them as an ice cube in your favorite summer drink! Or bake them in the rhubarb crisp recipe from last week.
That’sssssss all folks for S week! See you next week when we’ll find something fun with the letter T.
 Adv Exp Med Biol. 2016;928:473-479. Ellagic Acid and Its Role in Chronic Diseases.
Derosa G, Maffioli P, Sahebkar A.
 Food Chem. 2017 Nov 1;234:464-471. doi: 10.1016/j.foodchem.2017.05.017. Epub 2017 May 6. Strawberry consumption improves aging-associated impairments, mitochondrial biogenesis and functionality through the AMP-activated protein kinase signaling cascade. Giampieri F, Alvarez-Suarez JM, Cordero MD, Gasparrini M, Forbes-Hernandez TY, Afrin S, Santos-Buelga C, Gonzalez-Paramas AM, Astolfi P, Rubini C, Zizzi A, Tulipani S, Quiles JL, Mezzetti B, Battino M.
 Food Chem Toxicol. 2016 Aug;94:128-37. Strawberry consumption alleviates doxorubicin-induced toxicity by suppressing oxidative stress. Giampieri F, Alvarez-Suarez JM, Gasparrini M, Forbes-Hernandez TY, Afrin S, Bompadre S, Rubini C, Zizzi A, Astolfi P, Santos-Buelga C, Gonzalez-Paramas AM, Quiles JL, Mezzetti B, Battino M.