Add more strawberries to your diet
If you’re not already a fan of strawberries, you should be. Not only are they juicy, summery and delicious, they’re a bona fide superfood, too. Nutrient-rich and packed with antioxidants (like vitamin C), strawberries offer a wide range of health benefits, some of which may surprise you. (Wrinkle-prevention? Yes please!). Here are 10 reasons you should add more strawberries to your diet.
Strawberries boost immunity
“Strawberries are an excellent source of vitamin C,” says Toronto-based registered dietitian Madeleine Edwards. Most mammals—except for humans—have the ability to produce vitamin C naturally, which is why it’s so important to get your daily requirement. “One serving of strawberries contains 51.5 mg of vitamin C—about half of your daily requirement,” Edwards says. “Double a serving to one cup and get 100 percent.” Vitamin C is a well-known immunity booster, as well as a powerful, fast-working antioxidant. A 2010 UCLA study discovered that the antioxidant power in strawberries becomes “bioavailable” or “ready to work in the blood” after eating the fruit for just a few weeks.
Strawberries promote eye health
The antioxidant properties in strawberries may also help to prevent cataracts—the clouding over of the eye lens—which can lead to blindness in older age. Our eyes require vitamin C to protect them from exposure to free-radicals from the sun’s harsh UV rays, which can damage the protein in the lens. Vitamin C also plays an important role in strengthening the eye’s cornea and retina. While high doses of vitamin C have been found to increase the risk of cataracts in women over 65, researchers from the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm note that the risk pertains to vitamin C obtained from supplements, not the vitamin C from fruits and vegetables.
Strawberries help fight cancer
Vitamin C is one of the antioxidants that can help with cancer prevention, since a healthy immune system is the body’s best defense. A phytochemical called ellagic acid—also found in strawberries—is another. “Ellagic acid has been shown to yield anti-cancer properties like suppressing cancer cell growth,” says Edwards. “Strawberries [also] contain antioxidants lutein and zeathancins. Antioxidants are scavengers to free-radicals and neutralize the potentially negative effect they can have on our cells,” she says.
Strawberries keep wrinkles at bay
The power of vitamin C in strawberries continues, as it is vital to the production of collagen, which helps to improve skin’s elasticity and resilience. Since we lose collagen as we age, eating foods rich in vitamin C may result in healthier, younger-looking skin. But vitamin C isn’t the only naturally-occuring wrinkle fighter found in strawberries. Researchers at Hallym University in the Republic of Korea concluded that ellagic acid visibly prevented collagen destruction and inflammatory response—two major factors in the development of wrinkles—in human skin cells, after continued exposure to skin-damaging UV-B rays.
Strawberries fight bad cholesterol
According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, heart disease is one of the leading causes of death among Canadian women. Luckily, strawberries also contain powerful heart-health boosters. “Ellagic acid and flavonoids— or phytochemicals—can provide an antioxidant effect that can benefit heart health in various ways,” explains Edwards. “One way includes counteracting the effect of low-density lipoprotein, or LDL—bad cholesterol in the blood—which causes plaque to build up in arteries. A second way is that they provide an anti-inflammatory effect, which is also good for the heart.” Researchers at the Clinical Nutrition and Risk Factor Modification Center in Toronto studied the effect of strawberries on a cholesterol-lowering diet and concluded that adding strawberries to the diet reduced oxidative damage, as well as blood lipids—both of which play a role in heart disease and diabetes.