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Sunday, February 21, 2010

Strawberries – The Fruit and Flavour of Spring

The month of February comes to an end, marking the end of winter season and the coming of spring. India celebrates this season change with the very colourful festival of Holi, wherein all the people irrespective of their caste, religion or region come out in the streets in good spirits and play holi by throwing dry or wet colours on one another. The festival reflects the spring season through its rich colours. Spring season is a gardener’s delight and strawberries are the first fruit to ripen in this season.

More and more local farmers are taking to growing strawberries in their farms every year and the maximum contribution (85% of India’s total production) comes from a hill station called Mahabaleshwar in Maharastra. Strawberries are easy to grow and can even be grown in a “container garden” in your own home.
Strawberries in white bowl.jpg

But what’s so great about these “berries”? Well, strawberries can be both good and bad depending on how it affects each individual. It can be a boon to some by providing extra nutritional value due to its abundance in antioxidants like anthocyanins on the one hand or be a curse to those who are allergic to strawberries. In history, some cultures believed that strawberries could prolong life and has also been used as symbols of purity, perfection and love.

Health Benefits of Strawberries:

  • There is ample evidence of the health benefits of strawberries. The benefits include, eye care, whitening teeth, relief from high blood pressure, arthritis and gout, heart diseases, skin care and beauty treatment and even in proper brain function.

  • The anti oxidants such as phenolic phytochemicals, vitamin-C, flavonoids and elagic acid, present in strawberries prevent the harmful oxidants or free radicals from causing damage to the eyes. It also helps to maintain the right ocular pressure due to the presence of potassium.

  • The acids that are present in strawberries helps to remove stains from teeth, thereby making them appear whiter. Cut a strawberry in half and rub it on the teeth and gums to remove the tartar, which will strengthen and heal the gums. You should let the juice remain on the teeth for a while longer before gargling with warm water.

  • The anti oxidants and detoxifiers in strawberries will prevent the degenerative effects of the free radicals on muscles and joints in the body that causes arthritis and gout.

  • Vitamin-C, folate and anthocyanin, quercetin and kaempferol are some of the flavonoids that are present in strawberries that possess excellent anti oxidant and anti carcinogenic properties, which helps to fight cancer and tumor. Therefore, a daily intake of strawberries can bring down the cancerous growth of cells, drastically.

  • Strawberries are rich in iodine content and therefore are very helpful in the proper functioning of the brain and nervous system.

  • Strawberries are very effective in lowering the high blood pressure caused due to sodium, as it is rich in potassium and magnesium content, which helps to maintain the electrolyte balance.

  • Strawberries can also help to reduce the cholesterol levels by virtue of its high fibre, folate, no fats and high anti oxidants properties, thereby reducing heart diseases. Strawberries also help to strengthen the cardiac muscles due to the presence of vitamin B, which helps the heart to function properly.

  • Strawberries are also very good for the skin and can be used for beauty treatments as it helps in softening the skin and clearing away dead skin cells. It then hydrates the skin by allowing moisture to enter the skin's surface. The antioxidants, phyto-nutrients and vitamin C provide the skin a healthy nourishing nutritional mixture.

  • Strawberries are very good for the immune system due to all of the above-mentioned properties, and can help to prevent mild infections like the cold, flu and fever. Apart from this, it also has a very good anti-inflammatory property.

Some Interesting Facts About Strawberries

Chandler strawberries.jpg

It may come as a surprise to you to know that strawberries belong to the family of the rose flower (Rosaceae) and the fact that they are really not considered a fruit at all. The strawberries that we find commonly in the market these days are a hybrid of different species, specifically selected by breeders to yield more crop that have a better taste and a more nutritious profile.

Strawberries are used extensively in foodstuffs like ice creams, jams, jellies, squashes, syrups, confectionaries, bakeries, chocolates and even medicines for their extraordinarily rich flavor, taste and color. Of course, one can also eat them fresh. There are many delicious recipes that can be made using strawberries. Visit this website for some easy strawberry recipes that you can make at home.

As you can see, strawberries are the flavour and fruit of the month with plenty of health benefits, so make the most of them this season. Grow them in your backyard or home in a container and use them in as many delicious mouth-watering recipes that you can. Store them in the form of jams, jellies, squashes, juices, syrups or whatever way you like them best and see your skin glow this Spring!!

Original article posted on Xomba.

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