Food of the week: Strawberries

strawberries-01

BY SHELBY CARL

Staff Writer

Calories: One cup, 50

High in: Vitamin C, Potassium, Vitamin A, and Calcium

According to an article by the University of Illinois Extension, the strawberry has a rich cultural history in civilizations across the globe. In ancient Greece, the strawberry’s heart shape and red color made it a symbol for Venus, the goddess of love. Centuries later, medieval stone masons decorated altars and churches with designs of fresh strawberries. In France, Madame Tallien, a member of Napoleon Bonaparte’s court, bathed in fresh strawberry juice. Meanwhile across the sea, American Indians made strawberries mixed with cornmeal, a recipe that colonists would later use to created strawberry shortcake.

An article by Vern Grubinger, a vegetable and berry specialist at the University of Vermont, asserts that the creation of the modern day strawberry occurred in France during the 1700s, with the cross pollination of Chilean strawberries, which are known for their size, and the Virginian strawberry, which is incredibly hardy.  Today, the strawberry is the fifth highest consumed fresh fruit by weight in the United States

Although sources disagree on the origin of the modern day word “strawberry,” the Division of Plant Sciences at the University of Missouri page lists several hypotheses. The modern name could be a variation on the Anglo-Saxon “streoberie,” which refers to the fact that English youth used to sell strawberries skewered on straw stocks, or a modified version of “strewn berry,” which references the fact that the plant produces runners and is so found strewn upon the ground.

The ancient Romans believed strawberries could be used to treat fainting, sadness, inflammation, fever, infections, kidney stones and blood diseases. While many of their claims remain unsubstantiated, modern science has confirmed some of these medical benefits.

According to an article by Megan Ware, nutritionist, in Medical News Today, three key nutrients in strawberries can help lower heart disease: anthocyanins, polyphenol and potassium. A study by Aedin Casidy, PhD and MSc, a nutritionist at the Norwich Medical School in the United Kingdom, showed anthocyanins can reduce the risk of heart attack by 32 percent in young and middle-aged women.

Meanwhile, the polyphenol in strawberries serves to prevent platelet build up and lower blood pressure, two components of cardiovascular disease. Finally, a third study confirmed that people who consumed 4,069 mg of potassium a day had a forty nine percent lower risk from heart disease than those who consumed about 1,000 mg per day.

Another healthy component of strawberries is quercetin, a flavonoid and anti-inflammatory agent that can protect against damage caused by low-density lipoprotein cholesterol.

Furthermore, the strawberry’s high potassium content can help lower blood pressure by negating the negative effects of excess sodium in the body. Research even suggests that low potassium consumption may contribute just as much to high blood pressure as high sodium intake.

Finally, folate found in strawberries may also help regulate the brain’s production of serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine by preventing an excess of homocysteine from forming, which keeps blood and nutrients from reaching the brain and in turn negatively effects mood, sleep and appetite.

Recipe of the week: Strawberry lime slush

Ingredients

1 cup water

2 limes, peeled

3 tbsp agave nectar

2 cups frozen strawberries

Instructions:

  1. blend until smooth

NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION

Serving Size 12 fl oz

Servings 2.0

Sodium 10 mg

Carbohydrates 41 g

Calories 150 Fiber 3 g

Fat 0 g

Sugar 33 g

Saturated Fat 0 g

Protein 1 g

Cholesterol 0 mg

Recipe from: blendtec.com

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