Fruit Facts: Strawberries

Healthy Recipes and Nutrition, Nutrition
on November 14, 2011

Americans eat 5.2 pounds of fresh or frozen strawberries each year, according to the University of Illinois Extension. Just one nibble of the strawberry's delicate tangy sweetness is enough to explain our love affair with the popular berry. If you're hankering for a bushel, these fruit facts offer tips on finding the perfect strawberries, plus plenty of reasons why you should eat them. After all, strawberries aren't just delicious; they're good for you, too.

Sourcing strawberries. Finding good strawberries is as simple as a visit to your local grocery store. Strawberries are sold year-round, thanks to their popularity. The local farm stand or strawberry patch will likely be offering freshly picked native berries in June. You'll know you have a good berry when it feels heavy for its size, is deep red in color and smells divine. Strawberries that have gone bad may have mold on them, or may look dried up, darkened or mushy.

Keeping strawberries. Maintain strawberries at their best by storing them in the refrigerator, covered, and they should last about a week. Don't wash the berries until you're ready to use them, as the added moisture will hasten their spoilage. Strawberries can be frozen if you run the risk of not being able to use them before they go bad. It's important to note, however, that a frozen strawberry will be best suited for cooking or baking, as they loose their firmness in the freezing process. If possible, buy organic strawberries. The pesticides used to keep crops free of insect damage and other diseases can really settle into the nooks and crannies of a strawberry, states the Environmental Working Group.

Nutritious strawberries. Strawberries are an excellent source of many valuable nutrients. Strawberries contain more vitamin C in one ounce than the same amount of citrus fruit, according to the University of Illinois Extension. Vitamin C is a widely accepted antioxidant, prized for its ability to combat free radical damage and signs of aging, and may even help with preventing or lessening the common cold. The American Cancer Society states that vitamin C may be helpful in lowering the risk of gastrointestinal cancers, as well. If you need more reasons to dig in to a bushel full of strawberries, consider that one cup of strawberries contains 3.81 grams of fiber, 23.24 milligrams of calcium, 44.82 milligrams of potassium, 29.38 mcg of folate, 44.82 international units of vitamin A, magnesium, phosphorous, selenium and even iron. That's getting a lot of bang for your berry!