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Whether fresh from the farmer’s market or hand-picked straight from the vine, nothing says summer like the taste of a ripe strawberry, with its sweet, juicy texture and characteristic aroma (consisting of over 360 different volatile compounds!). But strawberries aren’t just amazingly tasty – they also pack a hefty nutritional punch! When it comes to this fruit, the only word to describe them is “berry-licious!”
Strawberries (Fragaria x ananassa) are members of the rose family, but surprisingly, are technically not berries at all, at least not from a botanical point of view! In actuality, strawberries are what’s known as an aggregate accessory fruit, meaning that the fleshy part of the fruit is derived from the receptacle that holds the ovaries, instead of developing from the plant’s ovary (as in ‘real’ berries). Each apparent “seed” on the outside of the strawberry is actually one of the ovaries of the flower, with a seed inside it and on average strawberries have approximately 200 of them!
Prior to cultivation, strawberries were abundant in the wild and have been eaten by people around the world since ancient times, in part for their medicinal properties. By the 1300s, the French began cultivating garden strawberries. However, the major breakthrough in strawberry cultivation occurred in Brittany, France in the 1750s when the Virginia strawberry (Fragaria virginiana), with its hardiness, was crossed with a Chilean strawberry (Fragaria chiloensis) that produced larger fruit. Amazingly enough, these two North American cultivars had to travel all the way to Europe to be combined, giving rise to the modern strawberry (Fragaria ananassa), which produced large, fragrant fruits, and the rest is history. All modern strawberry varieties currently cultivated and consumed are descendants from this original cross. Today, cultivated strawberries are one of the most widely grown fruit crops in the world and Americans consume an average of 7.14 pounds of this delectable fresh fruit each year. In fact, strawberries are the most widely produced berry – twice as many strawberries are produced as all other berry types combined!
Nutrivore Score for Strawberries – 762
Strawberries have a Nutrivore Score of 762, making them a high nutrient-dense food! Plus, they are a low-carb and low-calorie-density food; the calorie count of strawberries is just 49 calories per cup!
Per serving, strawberries are a best source (>50% daily value) of phytosterols, polyphenols, and vitamin C; an excellent source (20-50% daily value) of manganese and vitamin B7 (biotin); and a good source (10-20% daily value) of dietary fiber.
Strawberry Nutrition Facts
One serving of strawberries is standardized to 1 cup, halves or about 152 grams (5.4 ounces). One serving is roughly equivalent to 13 medium strawberries.
|Strawberries, raw||Nutrivore Score: 762||Nutrient Density: High|
|Serving Size: 1 cup, 13 medium (152 grams)||Protein: 1.0 grams||Net Carbohydrates: 8.6 grams|
|Calories: 49||Total Fat: 0.5 grams||Dietary Fiber: 3.0 grams|
|Vitamin A||1.5 μg RAE||0% DV|
|Vitamin B1 (Thiamin)||36.5 μg||3% DV|
|Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)||33.4 μg||3% DV|
|Vitamin B3 (Niacin)||0.6 mg||4% DV|
|Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid)||0.2 mg||4% DV|
|Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)||71.4 μg||4% DV|
|Vitamin B7 (Biotin)||6.1 mg||20% DV|
|Vitamin B9 (Folate)||36.5 μg||9% DV|
|Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin)||0.0 μg||0% DV|
|Vitamin C||89.4 mg||99% DV|
|Vitamin D (D2 + D3)||0.0 μg||0% DV|
|Vitamin E||0.6 mg||4% DV|
|Vitamin K||3.3 μg||3% DV|
|Choline||8.7 mg||2% DV|
|Calcium||24.3 mg||2% DV|
|Copper||73.0 μg||8% DV|
|Iron||0.6 mg||3% DV|
|Magnesium||19.8 mg||5% DV|
|Manganese||586.7 μg||26% DV|
|Phosphorus||36.5 mg||3% DV|
|Potassium||232.6 mg||5% DV|
|Selenium||0.6 μg||1% DV|
|Sodium||1.5 mg||0% DV|
|Zinc||0.2 mg||2% DV|
|AMINO ACIDS & PEPTIDES|
Strawberry Nutrition Varies With Processing
The Nutrivore Score of strawberries varies depending on processing. For instance, frozen strawberries are conveniently available at your local grocery store, allowing you to benefit from the delicious flavor and nutrient density of this berry year-round!
|Strawberries, frozen, unsweetened||645|
Health Benefits of Strawberry Nutrients
Let’s take a closer look at all of the best and excellent source of nutrients found in a 1-cup serving of strawberries and see how they benefit our health.
Strawberries Provide 99% DV Vitamin C
Strawberries are a fantastic source of vitamin C, providing 99% of the daily value per 1-cup serving!
Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin that has powerful antioxidant properties (meaning it can help combat oxidative damage from free radicals and reactive oxygen species) and that serves as an enzyme cofactor (meaning it’s needed for enzymes to do their job, for example vitamin C is necessary for collagen synthesis, which is essential for bones, joints, teeth, blood vessels, skin and eyes) and playing important roles in immune system and skin health. Higher intakes of vitamin C are linked to reduced risk of heart disease, some forms of cancer, type 2 diabetes, cataracts, age-related macular degeneration, and gout. Vitamin C can also help regulate the stress response and reduce anxiety, and there’s preliminary evidence that it may also help prevent Alzheimer’s disease. Learn more about vitamin C here.
Strawberries Provide 674.0 mg of Polyphenols
Strawberries are also a wonderful source of polyphenols, providing 674.0 mg of polyphenols per 1-cup serving!
Polyphenols play a huge role in protecting against cancer, heart disease, diabetes, asthma, osteoporosis, neurodegenerative diseases, and other conditions associated with oxidative stress. In fact, a major reason foods like red wine and olive oil (as well as diets rich in both, such as the Mediterranean diet) show up as so beneficial may be due to their high polyphenol content! Along with chronic diseases, supplementing with polyphenols has been shown to protect against infections and reduce the signs of aging. Polyphenols exert their most potent effects by acting as antioxidants—preventing cellular damage by neutralizing hazardous oxygen radicals and improving cellular health as a result (which, in turn, benefits virtually every system in the body). As a result of their antioxidant properties, polyphenols also boost the immune system and protect against both chronic and acute diseases. In addition, polyphenols can help regulate enzyme function, stimulate cell receptors, modulate the functions of inflammatory cells (including T and B lymphocytes, macrophages, platelets, and natural killer cells), alter adhesion molecule expression, affect nerve cells and cardiac muscle cells, and exert antiviral effects. Learn more about polyphenols here.
Strawberries Provide 719.7 mg of Phytosterols
In addition, strawberries are a great source of phytosterols, providing 719.7 mg of phytosterols per 1-cup serving!
Plant sterols and stanols (together, referred to as phytosterols) are a sub-group of triterpenes with a steroid hormone structure. They block absorption of cholesterol in the gastrointestinal tract, which lowers LDL cholesterol, reducing atherosclerosis and heart disease risk. Research has shown that eating at least 2 grams of plant sterols per day can lower LDL cholesterol by 5 to 10%. In addition, phytosterols have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, improve blood sugar regulation and insulin sensitivity, and improve the composition of the gut microbiome. Learn more about phytosterols here.
Strawberries Provide 26% DV Manganese
Strawberries are an excellent source of manganese, providing 26% of the daily value per 1-cup serving!
Manganese is an essential mineral that serves as a cofactor and component of numerous enzymes. Through these roles, it’s involved in carbohydrate metabolism, amino acid synthesis, gluconeogenesis, detoxification, lipid processing, free radical defense, bone and collagen formation, and wound healing. Although the research so far is limited, some evidence suggests that manganese can protect against osteoporosis and diabetes, and may even be involved in seizure disorders. Learn more about manganese here.
Strawberries Provide 20% DV Vitamin B7 (Biotin)
Strawberries are also an excellent source of vitamin B7 (biotin), providing 20% of the daily value per 1-cup serving!
Biotin is a water-soluble B vitamin, also known as vitamin B7. Like other B vitamins, it plays an important role in energy metabolism (serving as a coenzyme for five carboxylase enzymes), neurotransmitter production, cellular function, and the function of various organs. Getting enough biotin can help support healthy nail and hair growth. It’s also particularly important during pregnancy, with low intakes increasing the risk of premature delivery and birth defects. There’s even some evidence biotin can benefit diabetics and reduce functional disabilities in people with multiple sclerosis. Learn more about biotin here.
How Much Strawberries Should We Eat Per Day?
Culinary berries, defined as small, pulpy fruit with lots of little seeds, are not only delicious to eat but are also nutrient-dense superfoods that are “berry, berry” good for us!
Consuming 800 grams of vegetables and fruits daily reduces all-cause mortality by 31% compared to eating less than 40 grams daily. A 2017 systemic review and meta-analysis looked at how all-cause mortality was impacted by varying intakes of 12 different food groups: whole grains and cereals, refined grains and cereals, vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes, eggs, dairy products, fish, red meat, processed meat, and sugar-sweetened beverages. This analysis revealed non-linear relationships between how much of a particular food group we eat and how it impacts our health. While the results revealed no upper limit to the benefits of vegetable intake, the sweet spot for fruit intake was 300 grams daily. Intakes of fruit over 400 grams per day were not as beneficial as 300 grams, but the good news is that even intakes of 600 grams of fruits per day was superior to no fruit at all! This sweet spot for fruit intake translates to 2 to 3 servings of fruit daily.
Thus, a good rule of thumb is to aim for at least 500 to 600 grams of vegetables (5 to 8 servings, depending on the vegetable, and as much as you want above that) and about 300 grams of fruit (2 to 3 servings, depending on the fruit) per day. Fruit makes a convenient snack, a healthy dessert, a whimsical addition to salads, and a sophisticated flavoring agent in the form of salsas, jams, and chutneys. A serving is standardized to 1 cup chopped for raw vegetables and fruits (typically translates to 1/2 cup to 2/3 cup once cooked). Learn more in Importance of Vegetables and Fruit
Abundant research has shown that berries (like strawberries) offer a range of health benefits. For instance, eating 100 grams of berries (about 2/3 of a cup) per day on average results in an 8% decrease in all-cause mortality. In studies, when comparing those who ate the most berries versus those who ate the least, researchers showed a 26% decreased risk for type 2 diabetes and a 23% decrease in risk for Parkinson’s disease. Berries have also been shown to help protect against cancer, reduce total cholesterol, LDL “bad” cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood pressure, while increasing HDL “good” cholesterol.
Just remember, it’s always best to mix up the foods you eat day to day (aiming for a wide variety of different vegetables and fruits throughout the week), and strawberries definitely have a place at the table.
Expand to see all scientific references for this article.
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Phenol-Explorer: Strawberry, raw
USDA Food Central Database: Strawberries, raw
Watanabe T, Kioka M, Fukushima A, Morimoto M, Sawamura H. Biotin content table of select foods and biotin intake in Japanese. Int J Anal Bio-Sci. 2014. Vol 2(4):109-125.