Let’s Learn About Strawberries

strawberry punnets

Strawberries are a popular summer staple, and, as we’re nearing the end of strawberry season, there’s no better time to celebrate this favorite fruit.

Juicy and red, strawberries are very closely related to other common fruits. Alongside peaches, pears, plums, raspberries, and apples, strawberries are botanically classified as being in the rose family.1 Like most members of the rose family, the flowers of the strawberry plant generally have five petals. After these petals fall off, the center expands to form a fruit.

Close-up of of the flowers on a strawberry plant (Fragaria x ananassa)

But the large, flavorful strawberries we see in supermarkets didn’t exist until the mid 1700s, when a North American strawberry (F. virginiana) and a South American strawberry (F. chiloensis) were accidentally crossed by French botanists to form a hybrid.2 There are more than 70 varieties grown commercially today.3

Strawberries also have beneficial compounds. They’re high in antioxidants, like vitamin C. In fact, strawberries contain slightly more vitamin C per gram than oranges do.4, 5

They’re also high in another type of antioxidant, called an anthocyanin. These are the natural pigments which give strawberries their bright red colour.6 Anthocyanins may also be beneficial for heart health. Findings from two separate epidemiological studies showed that women who ate more of these were less likely to have a heart attack or die from heart disease.7, 8

While further research still needs to be conducted on the benefits of anthocyanins, strawberries remain a healthy component of a balanced diet.

 References:
1. Elpel TJ. Rose family/ rose subfamily. Botany In a Day: The Patterns Method of Plant Identification. Pony, MT; 2013:92.
2. Thompson P. Seeds, Sex, and Civilization. London; Thames & Hudson Ltd; 2010.
3. Types of Strawberries. BerkeleyWellness.com. https://www.berkeleywellness.com/healthy-eating/food/article/types-strawberries. Published June 15, 2015. Accessed January 16, 2020.
4. Oranges, raw, california, valencias. FoodData Central [database online]. Washington D.C.: United States Department of Agriculture; 2019. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/169916/nutrients. Accessed January 16, 2020.
5. Strawberries, raw. FoodData Central  [database online]. Washington D.C.: United States Department of Agriculture; 2019. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/747448/nutrients. Accessed January 16, 2020.
6. Lee D. Fruits and seeds. Nature’s Palette: The Science of Plant Color. Chicago, IL; 2007:203-205.
7. Cassidy A et al. High Anthocyanin Intake Is Associated With a Reduced Risk of Myocardial Infarction in Young and Middle-Aged Women. Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association. 2013 doi: 10.1161/circulationaha.112.122408
8. Mink PJ et al. Flavonoid intake and cardiovascular disease mortality: a prospective study in postmenopausal women. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007;85(3):895-909. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/85.3.895

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