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Featured, Food, Wellness

Strawberries: Fruits of Love and Healing 

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: 

  • For a refreshing post-run boost, blend up frozen berries with the milk or milk-alternative of your choice, maple syrup and pea protein powder.  
  • Whip up your own frozen yogurt in the food processor with frozen ripe strawberries, Greek yogurt and a drizzle of honey.  
  • Put together a quick salad with thinly sliced berries and spinach greens in lemon juice and olive oil. 
  • For a new take on salsa, mince berries, stirring in chopped basil, lemon zest, sea salt and red chili flakes.  
  • Blend strawberries with sweet white wine for a chilled summer soup, garnished with mint chiffonade.  
  • Irma Rombauer’s super easy, classic Red Red Strawberry Jam in the Joy of Cooking is divine on toast, pancakes or shortcake, and even shaken into homemade salad dressings.  

Or simply do what the Italians do: Drizzle ripe fruit with quality Modena balsamico and let the delicious healing begin.  

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