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The strawberry

What is better than a vine-ripened strawberry in the peak of season? In California, peak strawberry season is April through June.  So now is a great time to stop at the strawberry stands that pop up on our streets during the spring and buy fresh-picked strawberries.

 

Here are some things you might not know about the strawberry:

Strawberries are not actually berries

Strawberries are not actual berries. Berries have one seed on the inside and the fruit forms from one ovary. Strawberries are aggregate fruits, or accessory fruits, that have many seeds and many ovaries. Each seed and ovary represents a separate fruit that aggregates together to form a strawberry.

Strawberries are nutritional powerhouses

Lucky for us, strawberries are not only delicious, but they are good for you. They are particularly rich in Vitamin C, folate, iodine, manganese and fiber. They are very low calorie, at about 45 calories per cup. They are extremely high in antioxidants, with a rating of the 4th best fruit source of antioxidants.

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Health benefits of strawberries

Strawberries' excellent nutritional content translates into health benefits. Here are some of the researched benefits. Strawberries:

  • Protect the cardiovascular system and prevent cardiovascular disease.
  • Help regulate blood sugar levels and help prevent type 2 diabetes.
  • Are helpful in protecting against certain types of cancer.
  • Reduce inflammation and diseases caused by inflammation.
  • Improve cognitive and motor function.

How to buy and store strawberries

Strawberries are best picked ripe on the vine as they do not continue to ripen after they have been picked. Strawberries are best eaten within two days of picking to maximize their nutritional value. The best temperature for storing strawberries is 36 degrees F. Do not wash your berries until right before you eat them, as the water will degrade the berries. If you have more strawberries than you can eat, freeze them whole to maximize their nutritional value.

Organic vs regular strawberries

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) publishes a list of the top 12 fruits and vegetables with the highest exposure to pesticides. Unfortunately, strawberries are on the dirty dozen list. The EWG also says the health benefits of eating fruits and vegetables far outweighs the risk of pesticide exposure. That said, if you are picking and choosing which produce to buy organically, you may want to put strawberries on the top of your list.

Strawberry recipes

Here are some of my favorite strawberry recipes:

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