Friday, March 14, 2014

Health Benefits of Strawberries

Need more reasons to love strawberries? Well here is ten, we are so excited for summer and strawberry season! Those sweet juicy berries will be here before you know it.

1. Strawberries boost immunity. These little guys are a great source for vitamin C. Most mammals with the exception of humans have the ability to produce vitamin C naturally, which is why we need to make sure we get the proper amount everyday. And strawberries are so delicious, why would you say no? In one serving of fresh strawberries (which is half a cup) you get about 52mg which is about half of the daily requirement, so all you have to do is double up to a whole cup and you get all the vitamin C you need everyday. Yum! 

2. Strawberries promote eye health. The antioxidants in strawberries might also prevent cataracts,
which can lead to blindness in old age. But not for us! Our eyes require vitamin C to protect them from exposure to free-radicals from the sun's UV rays, which can damage the protein in the lens. Vitamin C also plays an important role in strengthening  the eye's cornea and retina. While high doses of vitamin C have been found to increase the risk of cataracts in women over 65, researchers from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm note that the risk pertains to vitamin C obtained from supplements, not the vitamins from fruits and vegetables.

3. Strawberries help fight cancer. Vitamin C is one of the antioxidants that can help with cancer prevention since a healthy immune system is the body's best defense. A phytochemical called elegiac- acid also found in strawberries-is another. Elegiac acid has been shown to have an anti-cancer properties like suppressing cancer cell growth. Strawberries also have the antioxidants lutein and zeathancins. Antioxidants are scavengers to free-radical and neutralized the potentially negative effect they can have on our cells.

4. Strawberries can help minimize wrinkles. Vitamin C is a powerful tool we need to take more advantage of, as it is vital to the production of collagen, which helps to improve sink's elasticity and resilience. Since we lose collagen as we age, eating foods rich in vitamin C may result in healthier, younger-looking sin. But vitamin C isn't the only naturally- occurring wrinkle fighter found in strawberries. Researchers at hallym university in the republic of Korea concluded that elegiac acid visibly prevented collagen destruction and inflammatory response- two major factors in development of wrinkles- in human skin cells, after continued exposure to skin-damaging UV-B rays.

5. Strawberries fight bad cholesterol. According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, hearth disease is one of the leading causes of death among Canadian women. Luckily, strawberries also contain powerful heart-health boosters.  “Ellagic acid and flavonoids— or phytochemicals—can provide an antioxidant effect that can benefit heart health in various ways,” explains Edwards. “One way includes counteracting the effect of low-density lipoprotein, or LDL—bad cholesterol in the blood—which causes plaque to build up in arteries. A second way is that they provide an anti-inflammatory effect, which is also good for the heart.” Researchers at the Clinical Nutrition and Risk Factor Modification Center in Toronto studied the effect of strawberries on a cholesterol-lowering diet and concluded that adding strawberries to the diet reduced oxidative damage, as well as blood lipids—both of which play a role in heart disease and diabetes.

6. Strawberries reduce inflammation. The antioxidants and phytochemicals found in strawberries
may also help to reduce inflammation of the joints, which may cause arthritis and can also lead to heart disease. A study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health shows that women who eat 16 or more strawberries per week are 14 percent less likely to have elevated levels of C-reactive protein (CRP)—an indication of inflammation in the body.

7. Strawberries regulate blood pressure. Potassium is yet another heart healthy nutrient, and with 134 mg per serving, strawberries are considered a "medium source," according to Alberta Health Services. Potassium can help regulate blood pressure and may even help to lower high blood pressure by acting as a buffer against the negative effects of sodium. With their impact on the reduction of LDL, inflammation and high blood pressure, strawberries have earned the title of one of the most heart-healthy fruits you can eat.

8. Strawberries boost fibre. Fibre is a necessity for healthy digestion, and strawberries naturally contain about 2 g per serving. Problems that can arise from lack of fibre include constipation and diverticulitis—an inflammation of the intestines—which affects approximately 50 percent of people over 60. Fibre can also aid in fighting type 2 diabetes. “Fibre helps slow the absorption of sugars (i.e. glucose) in the blood,” says Edwards. "As a result, adults who are managing diabetes can enjoy strawberries—in moderation—in their diet."

9. Strawberries aid in weight management. Maintaining a healthy weight is one of the best defenses against type 2 diabetes and heart disease, not to mention just plain good for your overall well-being. “Strawberries are naturally low calorie (around 28 kCal per serving), fat-free and low in both sodium and sugar,” says Edwards. “Strawberries do contain natural sugars—though total sugars are fairly low with 4 grams per serving—and the total carbohydrate content is equivalent to less than a half slice of bread. Triple your serving to 1.5 cups and you'll have a snack that's less than 100 calories—and much healthier than those pre-packaged 100-calorie snacks!”

10. Strawberries promote pre-natal health. Folate is a B-vitamin recommended for women who are pregnant or trying to conceive, and strawberries are a good source with 21 mcg per serving. Folate is necessary in the early stages of pregnancy to help in the development of the baby’s brain, skull and spinal cord, and the folic acid in strawberries may help to prevent certain birth defects, such as spina bifida.

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Friday, March 7, 2014

How To Keep Berries Fresh Longer

I am sure many of you are aware of this little tip but if not there is a simple little trick to keeping berries fresh for days or maybe even a week longer.
I find myself making two trips to the store most weeks because my kiddos can literally eat pounds of fresh berries in just a day or two. This takes a few extra minutes when you get home but the bonus is you might get to buy more up front and skip an extra trip to the store.
Or if you have a hard time getting through the berries you buy, it gives you a little extra time to eat your fruit before the mold sets in.
I was always told not to wash berries until you are ready to eat but actually you can wash them in advance and then grab and go!
Once you get home just submerge your berries in a solution of 1 part vinegar to 10 parts water.  (So 1 cup vinegar for every 10 cups of water.)
I have actually used up to 1 cup vinegar for 3 cups water so you don’t need to be super careful with measurements.
Some people use the sink and just stopper it but I get squeamish about using the sink since sinks really are pretty germy.
I have a little tub that works great from the Dollar Tree. Just add your water and vinegar solution and dump them in.  Let them soak for just a few minutes and then the key is to let them dry completely.
You can either spread them on a dish towel to dry or set them in a colander.  Once they are dry place a paper towel on the bottom of your container, add the fruit and voila!  You are done.
Pop them in the fridge like normal. What I actually like to do is cut the tops off as they are laid out to dry and slice them and then put them in a Tupperware.  It makes the fruit easy to grab and go (and I am more likely to actually grab it and not a handful of chips!)
This process should be fine for raspberries, blackberries, strawberries and blueberries.  And you will not taste any vinegar flavor on your berries.

From My Frugal Adventures

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