National Strawberry Day: “false fruits” with healthy benefits

Did you know that strawberries aren’t actually a fruit?! Botanists call the strawberry a "false fruit," a pseudocarp. A strawberry is actually a mu...

Did you know that strawberries aren’t actually a fruit?! Botanists call the strawberry a "false fruit," a pseudocarp. A strawberry is actually a multiple fruit which is made up of many tiny individual fruits - what we consider to be the seeds. The brownish or whitish specks (that look like seeds), are the true fruits, called achenes, and each of them surrounds a tiny seed.  These make strawberries relatively high in fiber. 

Some fruits contain more sugar or calories than others.  On National Strawberry Day we are encouraging type 2’s to enjoy two servings of fruit per day! Strawberries are a great source of essential micronutrients such as vitamin C, E and folic acid. 

According to the USDA, a 100 g serving of raw strawberries contains about 32 calories. This makes them a low-calorie food. You can eat these without worrying about any unhealthy weight gain.  So what makes strawberries so good for type 2’s and what are some great ways to integrate them into our two servings of fruit per day?

Why are strawberries great for type 2 diabetics?

The Mayo Clinic reminds us that strawberries are considered a low GI food and we can include them in one or two of our daily portions of fruit! “The total amount of carbohydrates in a food affects blood sugar levels more than does the source of carbohydrates or whether the source is a starch or sugar. One serving of fruit should contain 15 grams of carbohydrates. The size of the serving depends on the carbohydrate content of the fruit. The advantage of eating a low-carbohydrate fruit is that you can consume a larger portion. But whether you eat low-carb or high-carb fruit, as long as the serving size contains 15 grams of carbohydrates, the effect on your blood sugar is the same.”

The following fruit servings contain about 15 grams of carbohydrates:

  • 1/2 medium apple or banana
  • 1 cup blackberries
  • 3/4 cup blueberries
  • 1 cup raspberries
  • 1 1/4 cup whole strawberries
  • 1 cup cubed cantaloupe or honeydew melon

There are many important nutrients in strawberries that make them good for everyone, especially type 2’s…

Vitamin C - 58.8 mg per serving of strawberries which fulfills the recommended daily value of vitamin c for your day! Vitamin C is a nutrient your body needs to form blood vessels, cartilage, muscle and collagen in bones. Vitamin C is also vital to your body's healing process.  It can help those with type 2 diabetes by lowering elevated blood sugar levels across the day and minimizing spikes in blood sugar after meals.

Vitamin E - is a powerful antioxidant that helps maintain healthy skin and eyes, and strengthen the body's natural defense against illness and infection. 

Folic Acid - Folate helps the body make healthy red blood cells.  Some researchers say that adding folic acid to one’s diet significantly reduces homocysteine levels and may therefore offer an approach for lowering cardiovascular (CV) risk among patients with Type 2 diabetes. 

Fiber - Fiber improves our digestive health, strawberries have 3 grams of fiber per serving.  In a study where participants enjoyed a high fiber diet, particularly of the soluble type, above the level recommended by the ADA, improved glycemic control, decreased hyperinsulinemia, and lowered plasma lipid concentrations in patients with type 2 diabetes was shown. According to the Wellness Encyclopedia of Food and Nutrition, one-half cup of strawberries supplies more fiber than a slice of whole wheat bread, and more than 70 percent of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin C. 

Flavonoids - Flavonoids are a kind of phytochemical (a nutrient found in plants) that have beneficial anti-inflammatory effects and they protect your cells from oxidative damage that can lead to disease. 

Anthocyanins - Anthocyanins in strawberries are the major known polyphenolic compounds, responsible for fruit color.  High levels of anthocyanins in the berries relax the blood vessels, helping lower blood pressure, and preventing cardiovascular problems.

Strawberry Carrot Smoothie Recipe

Get your two servings of fruit, and one vegetable in this virtually one step-smoothie recipe! This recipe makes 2.5 servings so half it for yourself or plan on sharing it with someone else :) 

Ingredients

1 cups reduced-fat plain Greek yogurt OR 1/2 reduced-fat milk or oat milk

1/2 cup carrot juice (you can blend raw carrots for smoothies or juice. Make it easier for your blender by slicing your carrots before blending)

1/2 cup no sugar added orange juice or the juice of 2 oranges

1/2 cup frozen pineapple chunks

1/2 cup frozen unsweetened sliced strawberries

Instructions

Place all ingredients in a blender; cover and process until smooth and enjoy!

On this National Strawberry Day enjoy your “berries”.  Don’t fall for the myth that strawberries are sweet and therefore not healthy for people with type 2! Enjoy your healthy servings of strawberries frozen or fresh. For more information on the origins of one of our favorite fruits, read the History of the Strawberry from the University of Vermont. If you haven’t already, join our online type 2 community Winning Type 2 Diabetes Together, where we share, enjoy and enrich each other's lives together.