Heart : In Season: Strawberries

By Michael T. Murray, ND

Strawberry season has arrived -- finally! It's still quite early, but any day now you'll start seeing locally grown strawberries available at your market.

The history of strawberries goes back more than 2,200 years. Like many other fruits, strawberries make their claim in history as a luxury item enjoyed only by royalty. It wasn't until the mid 19th century, when railways were constructed, that a more rapid means of transport developed to ship strawberries longer distances to be enjoyed by increasing numbers.

Strawberries are an excellent source of vitamins C and K, dietary fiber, and flavonoids. They are also a very good source of manganese, pantothenic acid, vitamin B1, iodine, folic acid, biotin, and vitamin B6.

The health benefits of strawberries are due primarily to their flavonoids. As with other berries, strawberries' anthocyanidins are their most powerful flavonoids. Strawberries' unique flavonoid content makes them a valuable protector against inflammation, cancer, and heart disease.

When selecting strawberries, choose berries that are firm, plump, and free of mold, and that have a shiny, deep red color and attached green caps. Since strawberries, once picked, do not ripen further, avoid those that are dull in color or have green or yellow patches, since they are likely to be sour and of inferior quality.

Like all berries, strawberries are very perishable, so great care should be taken in their handling and storage. Make sure not to leave strawberries at room temperature or exposed to sunlight for too long, as this will cause them to spoil. Before storing in the refrigerator, remove any strawberries that are molded or damaged so they will not contaminate others. Unwashed, unhulled strawberries will keep fresh in the refrigerator for one to two days.
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