Strawberries are a delicious treat. But did you know they're also one of the most nutritious fruits you can eat?
"Strawberries are a smart choice for weight-conscious people, whether they are counting carbs or not," says Christine Palumbo, a Chicago-based nutritionist who is an active member of the American Dietetic Association and a frequent contributor to FoodFit.
Eight medium-sized strawberries have just 50 calories; no fat, cholesterol or sodium; and four grams of dietary fiber. They also contain a whopping 160 percent of the Daily Value for vitamin C, 16 percent of the Daily Value for folic acid and even four percent of the Daily Value for iron.
Strawberries are not only super-nutritious, but they also have less sugar and fewer calories than a lot of other fruits, including apples, grapes, bananas and oranges.
"Carb-conscious individuals will be cheered to know that there are only 12 grams of 'good carbs' in one cup of strawberry halves," says Palumbo.
Berry Good for You
Strawberries are also a great source of health-promoting antioxidants, including anthocyanins, which give the berries their deep-red color.
"Eating them before or after a workout helps minimize the stress placed on the body by exercise," according to the California Strawberry Commission. "The antioxidants in strawberries can also contribute to healthier skin, combat the effects of aging and help reduce the risk of heart disease and many forms of cancer."
The Sunshine State produces some 80 percent of the nation's strawberry crop. This succulent fruit is available nearly all year round.
Check out our Cooking with Strawberries article for lots of wonderful ways to eat berries.
The Good Carbs
Low-carb diets may be all the rage, but experts say that the key to achieving and maintaining a healthy weight for life is regular exercise coupled with a balanced diet rich in a variety of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. These foods are full of fiber and vitamins and low in calories, and they can help prevent certain cancers, heart disease and other illnesses. They also contain carbohydrates, recently leading some dieters to shun them. Nutritionists have rushed to explain that not all carbs are created equal.
"I think people are finally realizing that they should include 'good carbs' like those found in unprocessed fruits, vegetables and whole grains. These foods contain special plant nutrients that can't be reproduced in a pill or supplement," says Palumbo. "Mother Nature provides these nutrients in a way that works synergisticallyin a tasty package."