A member of the rose family, strawberries are loaded with antioxidants that are absorbed efficiently into your body. According to a study published in the July 2006 issue of “The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition," strawberries are one of 50 foods with the highest antioxidant content. While promoting optimal health, antioxidants help ward off chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease. Strawberries also contain other beneficial nutrients, such as fiber, magnesium, phosphorus, folate, potassium and calcium.
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Anthocyanins, Colorful Antioxidants
Anthocyanins are the antioxidants that give strawberries their red color. Cell-culture studies, epidemiological studies, animal studies and clinical studies have shown that anthocyanins may protect against cardiovascular disease, reports the USDA Agricultural Research Service. The majority of animal studies have demonstrated that anthocyanins benefit your heart health by obstructing the mechanisms that contribute to heart disease. These include reducing clotting, inhibiting chronic inflammation and lowering cholesterol.
Vitamin C, a Powerful Antioxidant
One cup of fresh strawberries provides about 85 milligrams of vitamin C, fulfilling 94 percent to 113 percent of your daily vitamin C needs. As an antioxidant, vitamin C exerts protective effects against free-radical damage. Free radicals are rogue compounds that damage your DNA. Apart from its antioxidant action, vitamin C contributes to the growth and repair of your body tissues. Your body requires this water-soluble vitamin to manufacture collagen, which is the major structural component of tendons, ligaments, cartilage, blood vessels and skin. The vitamin is also essential for the development of healthy bones and teeth.
Quercetin, an Antioxidative Flavonoid
Found naturally in strawberries, quercetin is part of a group of plant pigments called flavonoids that give vegetables, fruits and flowers their color. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, quercetin acts as an antihistamine and an anti-inflammatory agent, and it may help protect you from cancer and heart disease. Population-based studies suggest that quercetin may help decrease the risk of atherosclerosis, which is a buildup of plaque in the arteries that can cause stroke or heart disease. The flavonoid can also help histamine-releasing cells remain in balance and thereby exhibit an anti-inflammatory effect. Histamine are chemicals that cause allergic reactions.
Ellagic Acid, a Phenolic Compound
Ellagic acid is a phenolic compound derived from ellagitannins commonly found in strawberries and has antibacterial and antiviral properties. According to the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, a small clinical study demonstrated that ellagic acid may reduce lipid peroxidation and lower cholesterol in people with metabolic syndrome. Preclinical studies show that ellagic acid exhibits anticancer properties against esophageal, prostate, colorectal and liver cancer cells.