Strawberries are among the best-tasting fruits in the world, and they are also one of the healthiest.
In this article, we will examine the nutrition profile and health benefits of this popular berry.
As part of this, we will look at the latest research – both positive and negative – on strawberries.
Lastly, we will provide a few delicious recipe ideas.
What Are Strawberries?
Strawberries (Fragaria vesca) are an edible fruit that grows on plants in the rose (Rosaceae) family.
The strawberry is a hybrid species, and its origin lies in France, with the first strawberries bred in the early 18th century (1).
Despite popular belief, strawberries are technically not a berry or even a fruit for that matter.
Scientifically, the strawberry is something called a receptacle, and it is also known as an “aggregate fruit”, although culturally it is both a fruit and a berry.
With a deep red color, a sweet, juicy texture and a pleasant aroma, strawberries are a favorite fruit around the world.
From supermarket shelves to cosmetic stores, strawberries are widely used in a variety of food products, drinks and fragrances.
Types of Strawberries
Interestingly, there are three different varieties of strawberries;
- Day-neutral strawberries: this variety was developed to provide fruit throughout the summer and autumn/fall seasons.
- Everbearing strawberries: their name isn’t quite technically true, but this kind of strawberry grows fruit from spring until fall.
- June-bearing strawberries: as the name suggests, this variety has one harvest somewhere in the month of June.
There are dozens of different cultivars within these three groups, and they all have slight variations in their appearance and taste.
Generally speaking, they all have a similar taste and nutrition profile.
Strawberries are one of the most nutrient-dense fruits around.
The tables below show the nutritional values for strawberries per 100 grams (2).
Calories and Macronutrients
|Calories / Macronutrient||Amount (kcal / grams)|
Strawberries are an extremely low-energy food and contain only 32 calories per 100 grams (or 46 calories per cup.)
Strawberries are one of the lowest carb fruits, and they contain less than 5 grams of net carbs per 100 grams (8.2 grams per cup).
4.9 grams are from sugars and 2 grams is fiber.
Fat and Protein
As a plant food that is predominantly water and carbohydrate, strawberries contain negligible amounts of fat and protein.
Vitamins and Minerals
The biggest advantage of strawberries is the significant amount of vitamin C they offer.
Here is the full vitamin and mineral profile per 100 grams;
|Micronutrient||Amount (% RDA)|
|Vitamin C||98 %|
|Vitamin K1||3 %|
|Vitamin B6||2 %|
|Vitamin E||1 %|
|Pantothenic acid||1 %|
|Vitamin A||1 %|
|Vitamin B1||1 %|
As shown, strawberries contain a substantial concentration of vitamin C and a small amount of folate.
On the mineral side, Strawberries are a good source of manganese.
Other than this, they provide small amounts of most other vitamins and minerals.
Similar to other berries, strawberries provide a large concentration of polyphenols.
Polyphenols are a type of plant compound believed to have several benefits for human health.
The major groups of polyphenols in strawberries include (3);
- Anthocyanins: Anthocyanins provide either red, blue or purple pigment depending on their specific PH level. Among the anthocyanins resent in strawberries, the most prevalent is pelargonidin.
- Flavanols: Aside from strawberries, flavanols are present in various fruit, herbs and teas. The most significant flavonol in strawberries is epicatechin.
- Flavonols: Various fruits and vegetables contain flavonols, and the major flavonol in strawberries is quercetin.
- Phenolic acids: Strawberries contain various hydroxybenzoic and hydroxycinnamic (phenolic) acids, with p-Coumaroyl glucose and ellagic acid being the most prevalent.
- Stilbenes: Strawberries contain small amounts of resveratrol.
How Beneficial Are Polyphenols In Strawberries?
Some animal studies and in vivo trials show that polyphenols have anti-inflammatory properties and reduce oxidative stress (4).
That said, recent research suggests that polyphenols may have a role in various signaling systems within the body.
Through this, polyphenols may up-regulate systems related to immune response and improve risk factors for disease such as endothelial function and chronic inflammation (7).
Further research is ongoing on the effects of polyphenols on human health.
Health Benefits of Strawberries
While there are constant disagreements over many foods in the human diet, strawberries are almost universally recognized as healthy.
Here are some benefits of eating strawberries.
1. Significant Source of Vitamin C
The vitamin C (ascorbic acid) content is arguably the most significant health benefit of strawberries.
Although most people believe oranges and other citrus fruits are the best source of vitamin C, strawberries contain a higher concentration.
Just 100 grams of strawberries provides 98% of the RDA for this essential vitamin, and a cup provides even more (141%).
Vitamin C has many positive effects in the body, and these include increasing the absorption of non-heme iron, antioxidant activity, improving immunity and helping to prevent and recover from colds (8, 9).
2. Blood-Glucose Levels
Maintaining healthy blood-glucose levels is vital for every person, but especially for individuals with diabetes or insulin resistance.
Fruit is generally healthy, but some types of fruit (particularly high-sugar tropical fruits) may cause a spike in blood-glucose levels for some people.
Due to their low carbohydrate content and provision of dietary fiber, strawberries have a minimal effect on blood sugar compared to other fruits.
For example, a dose-response randomized, controlled trial found that insulin sensitivity improved in 21 insulin resistant individuals consuming strawberries daily over a 4-week time-frame (10).
3. Potential Cardiovascular Benefits
Research demonstrates that strawberry consumption may have a positive impact on cardiovascular health.
For instance, studies show that strawberries improve various risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
Some of these studied benefits include reducing inflammatory markers, improving vascular function, and reducing small, dense LDL particles that have a more atherogenic profile (promote arterial plaque) than large LDL particles (13, 14, 15).
Additionally, large population-based studies show that people consuming more strawberries have a lower risk for cardiovascular events. However, population studies rely on epidemiology (observations), and this only proves a correlation, not causation.
4. Anti-Inflammatory Effects
Inflammation is a necessary function within the human body, and without it, we would not be able to heal from wounds.
However, chronic inflammation appears to be central to the etiology of various chronic diseases (16).
On the positive side, strawberry consumption lowers inflammatory markers in clinical trials.
In one recent randomized and double-blind clinical trial, osteoarthritis patients were randomized to either 50 grams of strawberries (as a freeze-dried beverage) or a control beverage per day, for 12 weeks (17).
A similar clinical study demonstrated similar results in otherwise healthy obese participants (18).
Interestingly, the study results showed a significant reduction in inflammatory markers IL-1, IL-6 and MMP-3 in the strawberry group, but not the control group.
Since the vast majority of chronic diseases have a link to inflammation, this ability to reduce inflammatory markers may potentially reduce the risk of several illnesses.
5. Good Source of Manganese
The manganese content is another nutritional benefit of strawberries.
Manganese is a trace mineral that has several key functions within the human body.
Some of the functions of manganese include the formation of bone, energy metabolism, and fatty acid synthesis.
Strawberries contain around 19% of the RDA per 100 grams (28% per cup).
6. Nutrient Density (Very Low In Calories)
Over the years, there has been too much of an obsession with calorie counting.
Unlike some marketing campaigns would have us believe, “low in calories” does not automatically make something healthy.
However, if food is low in calories AND contains a decent mix of nutrients, then it is a nutrient-dense food.
Strawberries provide a significant source of vitamin C, some manganese, and a variety of further micronutrients for only 32 calories per 100 grams.
As a result, strawberries have exceptional nutrient density.
7. Fiber Content
Strawberries provide 6.9 grams of carbohydrate per 100 grams, and two grams of this comes from dietary fiber.
Fiber has the beneficial effect of reducing the postprandial (post-meal) blood glucose response from carbohydrate foods (19).
For example, a can of cola (simple sugars) will quickly spike blood glucose levels following consumption.
In contrast, eating a mixture of berries and green vegetables would have a much smaller effect since the meal would be mainly fibrous carbohydrate.
Some research suggests that fiber from fruit and vegetables may be important for gut bacteria and, as an extension, overall health.
However, there is little in the way of evidence to support fiber’s direct beneficial impact on gut health at this time, and more research is necessary (20).
Since fiber is a significant proportion of the total carbohydrate content in strawberries, they are a fiber-rich fruit.
Can Strawberries Help You Lose Weight?
A quick Google search will bring up a list of results discussing how strawberries help you to lose weight.
There is even a “strawberry diet.”
However, can eating strawberries actually result in losing weight?
Unfortunately, the answer is no – not directly at least.
While some foods may ever-so-slightly increase the metabolic rate, there are no foods that cause weight loss.
Weight loss requires effort; a well-planned diet, a healthy sleeping pattern, and ideally, an exercise program.
That being said, replacing an unhealthy snack such as potato chips or candy with strawberries would indirectly result in weight loss.
This would be a result of the lower amount of calories rather than strawberries having any unique effect.
A large majority of fruit and vegetable producers rely on pesticides for growing their food.
Firstly, it is worth noting that these residues are lower than the maximum residue level (MRL).
There are also no conclusive studies showing human harm from foods grown with pesticides.
However, one recent study found that women consuming the highest amount of fruit and vegetables had an 18% lower chance of pregnancy, and a lower probability of a healthy pregnancy (23).
Again, remember that correlation does not equal causation.
I don’t worry too much about whether food is ‘organic’ or ‘conventional.’
If this is a concern, then organic strawberries are easy to find.
Strawberries are a surprisingly common allergy for many people, and it is one that mostly affects infants.
In fact, one study showed that the prevalence of strawberry allergy was around 3% to 4% in two-year-old children (24).
This allergy occurs as a result of a specific group of proteins found in strawberries called ‘Fra a’.
Common symptoms of strawberry allergy may include itching, coughing, hives and a feeling of tightness in the throat.
In more severe cases, swelling of the tongue, difficulty breathing, and anaphylaxis may occur.
Fresh vs. Frozen: Does It Matter?
Fresh strawberries always beat frozen for taste.
However, some people prefer frozen strawberries since they have a more economical price.
There have been many discussions over the best option; some say fresh is always best, while others believe that flash-freezing the berries keeps them in a better condition.
The question is; what do actual studies say?
Consensus: There is no real difference
Several studies have looked at this issue, and the simple answer is that it doesn’t matter.
All in all, the best type of strawberries is the one you prefer.
Tasty Strawberry Recipe Ideas
If reading about strawberries makes you feel hungry, then here are some quick and simple recipe ideas.
No cooking is necessary and they only take several minutes to prepare.
1) Strawberries and Vanilla Heavy Cream
Not many things beat strawberries and cream for a dessert, but a little taste of vanilla really adds to the flavor.
- Place the strawberries on a plate or in a bowl.
- Next, mix your desired amount of heavy cream (double cream) with a few drops of real vanilla extract.
- Pour over the strawberries.
2) Dark Chocolate Covered Strawberries
Combine two of the tastiest things in the world (dark chocolate and strawberries) and good things happen.
You can make as many as you want, but 10 g chocolate per strawberry is a good ratio.
- Firstly, gently melt a 100 g bar of dark chocolate (ideally 85% cocoa) in a pan.
- Next, add 10 strawberries into the pan and ensure they are well-coated with the chocolate.
- Refrigerate the chocolate-coated strawberries for several hours and the chocolate will cool and harden.
3) Strawberry Greek Salad
While most salads feature leafy greens and tomatoes, strawberries can work well too!
- First, combine the following ingredients; ham, feta cheese, Kalamata olives, strawberries and leafy greens.
- Secondly, add a tablespoon of olive oil, freshly squeezed lemon juice, and a tea spoon of balsamic vinegar.
- Mix together well.
Strawberries are a nutritious fruit that offers a lot of nutrients for minimal calories.
Additionally, strawberries have a range of promising potential health benefits, and they taste great either alone or in a recipe.
Overall, strawberries can play a delicious part in a healthy diet.