Irelands Premier Strawberries

Nutritional Value

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Here on the farm diversification continues to play a major role. The farmshop offers our visitors some great tasting local produce, a delicious lunch can be enjoyed in the ‘Orchard’ (our Restaurant and Tearoom) and other on-site activities to checkout including a nature trail, Pick Your Own Fruit (in season), clay pigeon shooting and coarse fishing.

Health benefits

The strawberry, scientifically known as Fragaria ananassa, originated in Europe in the 18th century. It is a hybrid of two wild strawberry species from North America and Chile. Strawberries are bright red in color, have a juicy texture, a characteristic aroma, and a sweet flavor. They are an excellent source of vitamin C and manganese, and also contain decent amounts of folate (B9) and potassium. Strawberries are very rich in antioxidants and plant compounds, and may have benefits for heart health and blood sugar control (1, 2). They are usually consumed raw and fresh, but can also be used in a variety of jams, jellies, desserts and for food flavoring.

Nutritional facts

Strawberries mainly consist of water (91%) and carbohydrates (7.7%). They contain only minor amounts of fat (0.3%) and protein (0.7%). One cup of whole strawberries (150 grams) contains less than 50 calories. The table below contains information on all the main nutrients in strawberries (3).

Carbs

Fresh strawberries are very high in water, so their total carb content is very low (less than 12 grams of carbs per cup). Most of the carbs in them come from simple sugars, such as glucose, fructose and sucrose, but they also contain a decent amount of fibers. The net digestible carbohydrate content is less than 6 grams for every 100 grams of strawberries. Strawberries have a glycemic index score of 40, which is relatively low (4). This means that strawberries should not lead to big spikes in blood sugar levels, and are considered safe for diabetics.

Fiber

About 26% of the carb content of strawberries is in the form of fibers. 1 cup of strawberries provides 3 grams of fiber, both soluble and insoluble. Dietary fibers are important to feed the friendly bacteria in the gut and improve digestive health. They are also useful for weight loss, and can help prevent many diseases (5, 6).

Vitamins and Minerals

The most abundant vitamins and minerals in strawberries are listed below. Vitamin C: Strawberries are an excellent source of vitamin C, an antioxidant that is important for the immune system and skin health (7, 8). Manganese: Frequently found in high amounts in whole grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables, this trace element is important for many processes in the body (9). Folate (B9): One of the B-vitamins, important for normal tissue growth and cell function. Folate is particularly important for pregnant women and the elderly (10, 11, 12). Potassium: A mineral that is involved in many essential body functions, such as regulating blood pressure (13, 14). To a lesser extent, strawberries also contain iron, copper, magnesium, phosphorus, vitamin B6, vitamin K and vitamin E.

Plant Compounds

Pelargonidin: The main anthocyanin in strawberries, responsible for their color (15). Ellagic acid: Found in high amounts in strawberries, ellagic acid is a polyphenol antioxidant that may have many health benefits (16). Ellagitannins: Related to ellagic acid, ellagitannins are converted to ellagic acid in the gut (16).

Heart Benefits

Heart Health Cardiovascular disease (heart disease) is the most common cause of death worldwide. Studies have found a relationship between berries, or berry anthocyanins, and improved cardiovascular health (21, 34, 35, 36). Large observational studies, that included thousands of people, have linked berry consumption with lower risk of heart-related deaths (37, 38, 39). According to a study in middle-aged people with well-established risk factors for cardiovascular disease, berries may increase HDL-cholesterol, lower blood pressure and improve the function of blood platelets (40). Strawberries may also improve blood antioxidant status, decrease oxidative stress, inhibit inflammation, improve vascular function, improve the blood lipid profile and reduce the harmful oxidation of LDL-cholesterol (21, 23, 41, 42, 43, 44). Lately, the effects of freeze-dried strawberry supplements on type 2 diabetes or metabolic syndrome have been studied intensely, mainly in overweight or obese individuals. A significant decrease in several major risk factors was observed after 4-12 weeks of supplementation. This includes LDL-cholesterol, inflammatory markers (C-reactive protein), and oxidized LDL-particles (45, 46, 47, 48, 49).

Summary

Strawberries are low in calories, and are both delicious and healthy. They are a good source of many vitamins, minerals and plant compounds, some of which have powerful health benefits. The health benefits include lower cholesterol and blood pressure, reduced inflammation, decreased oxidative stress and cancer prevention. Furthermore, they may help prevent big spikes in both blood sugar and insulin levels. Strawberries are an excellent addition to a healthy diet.