It’s strawberry season!
Strawberries are synonymous with Wimbledon, and this year will be no exception, even if it rains! A whopping 8615 punnets are consumed each day during the tournament, all grown in Kent from LEAF-registered farms, a charity that promotes balancing organic with chemical practices.
But aside from this great sporting tradition, strawberries are a well known source of Vitamin C, important for our immune system health. They’re a rich source of phytochemicals (also known as phytonutrients) found in brightly coloured fruit and vegetables. Phytochemicals are part of plant immune system defences, and are thought to have similar health benefits to humans when we eat them.
The health benefits of strawberries
Strawberries are a rich source of Anthocyanins, which has been found to have anti-inflammatory properties that can help to reduce the risk of illnesses including cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. They’re also a reliable source of flavonoids which have beneficial cardiovascular effects and may help to lower blood pressure. Strawberries also have beneficial effects on bacteria in the gut. One study found that strawberries slow down the digestion of glucose whilst moderating the use of insulin, so it’s worth eating a handful after you’ve eaten.
Eating strawberries can have anti–inflammatory effects, reducing pain and inflammation for people with osteoarthritis. If fresh strawberries are in short supply, freeze dried berries may prevent certain cancers due to the polyphenols they contain which appear to halt the growth of cancer cells.
Why it’s worth choosing organic strawberries
Strawberries regularly appear at the top of PAN’s Dirty Dozen list because of the pesticides used to grow them, so they are an important fruit to switch to organic. Tests carried out by the US Department of Agriculture found that 99% of strawberry samples tested had traces of at least one pesticide, with almost a third of fruit tested with traces of ten or more pesticides. Whilst there are differences in chemical regulations in the US and UK, these results are concerning.
Where available, buy organic strawberries locally, or via home delivery options such as Riverford or Abel & Cole. Avoid strawberries imported out of season as they may have been sprayed more heavily with pesticides.
Grow your own strawberries
You can grow your own anywhere in your garden or outdoor space and enjoy the benefits of this super food without worrying about pesticides. The RHS offer a full guide here.
Read more about Phytochemicals