Nutrition: A berry, berry good way to stay healthy

Strawberries are some of the lowest sugar fruits, containing around 5g per 100g
Strawberries are some of the lowest sugar fruits, containing around 5g per 100g

AS Wimbledon draws to a close and tennis fans sit on the edge of their seats for the final game, set and match, there is one food that is synonymous with Wimbledon. Strawberries, of course.

Strawberries are in season between June and September, when they are definitely at their best and most delicious. This sweet, bright, juicy red fruit is such a treat at this time of year and it grows so well in our climate. I think the best way to eat them is straight of the plant in full summer sun (if we are lucky enough to catch a glimpse of that).

It could be argued that strawberries should not be eaten in the winter, not only because they don’t taste as good, but do you really want foods on your plate that rack up so many food miles when we choose to eat them out of season?

Strawberries belong to the rose family and have a whole host of really good benefits for your health. Here are a few reasons to fill your belly with these delicious berries right now:

They are low in sugar and calories: Strawberries are some of the lowest sugar fruits, containing around 5g per 100g. In half a cup of strawberries there are just 32kcals. It’s when we start adding sugar, cream or ice cream that the calories, fat and sugar start to ramp up.

They are a great source of fibre to help support digestion and help keep things regular: They could help to balance blood sugar levels. It seems that eating strawberries after dinner has the potential to slow down the digestion of glucose and reduce spikes in both glucose and insulin after a high-carb meal. This could in the prevention of type 2 diabetes and weight gain. Just don’t slather them in sugar.

They provide a healthy level of vitamin C - an important vitamin for immune support and healthy skin: They are packed with antioxidants, with wonderful names like ellagic acid, procyanidins and pelargonidin. These beneficial plant chemicals give strawberries their bright red colour, flavour and strawberry-like characterisitics, but they also help protect our cells and help to keep us healthy.

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Here are some healthy ideas to help you make the most of these seasonal berries:

Make yourself a smoothie bowl: Simply blitz some strawberries, half a frozen banana and some natural or Greek yoghurt in your blender. Serve in a breakfast bowl topped with sliced strawberries and a few chopped nuts.

Make homemade ice cream: Mash a handful of strawberries with a fork, mix a spoonful of honey into 150ml yoghurt and gently swirl the mashed strawberries into the yoghurt, pour into lolly moulds and leave in the freezer overnight.

Slice and add to summer salads: Try watercress or rocket with hazelnuts and strawberries. Make a summery dressing in your blender with a few leftover strawberries, some olive oil, a spoonful of honey and some apple cider vinegar.

Try balsamic strawberries: Simply pour a splash of balsamic vinegar and a spoonful of honey over strawberries and leave to marinade for 20 minutes or so. Pop a few torn basil or mint leaves on top and serve with Greek yoghurt, or some good quality vanilla ice cream.

A word of caution…

Of course, not all of us love strawberries and an allergy to these summertime berries is common. They belong to a group of foods called histamine liberators, that trigger the release of histamine to cause allergic symptoms like itchy eyes, hives, swelling of the face or lips. Strawberries may also be an issue for people with hayfever, as they can increase histamine, and add to the load that is already there.

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