When you think of strawberries, do you think sweetness, fragrance, roses?
The heart-shaped, aromatic strawberry—fitting symbol for Venus, the goddess of love—oozes sensuousness and romance. But like its floral cousin the rose, the strawberry is more flower than fruit or berry. Mysteriously, its delicious red flesh is an extension of its white flower receptacle, its “seeds” actually tiny fruit.
When you think of strawberries, do you think healthy eating, anti-inflammation and cardiovascular health?
You should. The fruit has been used medicinally since Roman times. Ancient Italians believed it healed ailments, including kidney stones and melancholy. Madame Tallien, a member of Napoleon’s court, bathed in strawberry juice, requiring 22 pounds of berries to fill her tub.
How perfect that something so delectable and satisfying—smothered in rich cream at Wimbledon, dipped in decadent chocolate or devoured au naturel at farmers markets—is also therapeutic. The garden strawberry (Fragaria ananassa) contains no fat but is rich in vitamin C (ascorbic acid), minerals, folates and phenolic compounds, essential for human health. It has powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, so it can help us look younger, reduce puffiness and inflammation by eating, or in the case of sunburn, by applying the juice directly to the skin. Researchers are also discovering that strawberry consumption can positively impact cardiovascular health. The fruit contains anti-carcinogenic chemicals and those that can lower bad cholesterol (LDL) and blood sugar spikes after high-fat and high-sugar meals, say National Center for Biotechnology Information experts.
The garden strawberry is cultivated worldwide today, but it’s as American as strawberry pie. We consume 4.85 pounds of the fresh and frozen fruit annually, but since we don’t peel strawberries, it is best to buy organic, local ones. Organic produce is generally more cost effective anyhow. Its nutrients are intact and it has more flavor, so you’ll be more likely to consume what you purchase. Even though some organic strawberries are also sprayed with certain pesticides, they contain fewer chemicals.
Serve Strawberries with Style
There are plenty of ways to eat your strawberries all summer:
Or simply do what the Italians do: Drizzle ripe fruit with quality Modena balsamico and let the delicious healing begin.