There are a range of valuable nutrients in strawberries, plus they are low calorie and taste good. This makes them a good basis for healthy snacks, drinks and desserts. Unfortunately, they are often served with lots of sugar and/or cream, making them a less healthy option. There are plenty of healthy, low calorie ways to enjoy them though.
Nutrients in strawberries
- High in vitamin C – which boosts immunity and acts as an antioxidant to slow down ageing and protect against degenerative diseases such as heart and circulatory disease
- A good source of folate, which is especially important during pregnancy
- Contain ellagic acid, which combats carcinogens
- High in fibre (not actually a nutrient, but vital to health)
- Contain phyto-nutrients with anti-infalmmatory properties
- Good for keeping blood sugar regulated, due to the low sugar content and high fibre content
Healthy ways to enjoy strawberries
Strawberries and cream variations
Strawberries and cream is the traditional combination. But cream has a high saturated fat content which, as we all know, is not a good thing. There is also a debate over whether eating dairy products is a good thing, since milk is for young mammals and it isn’t a natural part of the adult human’s diet. Most of us still enjoy dairy, though, so here is a list of all the dairy alternatives to go with strawberries, with their fat content per 100g:*
Double cream 50.5g
Whipping cream 38.7g
Crème fraiche 31.1.g
Single cream 19.1g
Soured cream 18.5g
Half fat crème fraiche 15g (has starch and pectin added to stabilise)
Greek yoghurt 9.5g
Natural yoghurt 3.8g
Low fat Greek yoghurt 3g
Low fat natural yoghurt 1.4g
(*Figures taken from the published nutrition information of a UK supermarket own-brand products.)
So, on the face of it, the yoghurts win. But bear in mind that a spoonful of single cream will go a long way on your strawberries, whereas you could quite easily load your spoon up with 2 or 3 times this amount of thick Greek yoghurt, ending up with more fat.
Alternatives to cheesecakes and gateaux
Other traditional strawberry favourites are strawberry cheesecake and strawberry cream gateau. These are not only high-fat but high-sugar too, so they take away from the benefits of the nutrients in strawberries. Healthier alternatives are:
Strawberry scone – scones are lower in fat and sugar than cakes and biscuits. If you buy good quality ones, from the supermarket bakeries or their premium ranges, for example, they are a reasonably healthy and filling snack. Just put a thin layer of butter or other spread on them and fill with sliced strawberries.
Pancakes – pancake batter has no fat other than that in the eggs and the small amount naturally present in flour. Make batter with no sugar, then roll pancakes with sliced strawberries and a sprinkling of sugar.
Quick “strawberry cheesecake” snack – Digestives are quite healthy as biscuits go. Spread them with a little soft cheese and top with strawberries.
Savoury ideas with strawberries
- Strawberries go well with soft cheeses – make panninis or taosties with Camambert, Brie or goat’s cheese
- Salads made with strawberries, green leaves (like spinach and rocket) and a Balsamic vinegar dressing are good.
- Puree and mix with milk for one that kids love
- Smoothies – there are hundreds of recipes for smoothies; commonly used ingredients are other berries, banana and yoghurt
- Mix pureed strawberries with water and any citrus juice for a refreshing drink
- Add frozen strawberries to water for chilled, flavoured water
For the best taste and health benefits, grow them yourself
As with all fruits, the nutrients in strawberries start to be lost as soon as they are picked. So, for maximum benefit, eat them fresh from the garden. Home grown taste amazing too.
- You can grow strawberries in containers, but crops are larger if you grow them in the ground.
- Buy plants from garden centres in the spring – you’ll get a small crop in the first year but they’ll really get going the following year.
- When the fruits start to ripen, spread straw underneath them to protect them from rotting and cover them with netting to stop birds eating them.
- After fruiting, cut leaves back. The plants will start throwing off loads of new plantlets. You need to keep on top of this and remove them, or the bed will get too crowded.
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