Winter strawberries drive healthy choices
PLANT CITY/DOVER, FLA— It’s a fact. Aggressive marketing programs of the Florida Strawberry Growers Association (FSGA) are causing consumers to become increasingly aware of the opportunity to purchase fresh, hand-harvested strawberries in the winter months.
“We’re getting the word out this season to consumers, retailers and others about the availability of Florida-grown strawberries like never before,” said Sue Harrell, director of marketing for the Association.
“Florida is the only place in the country where strawberries may be sourced in the winter. We begin harvesting them right after Thanksgiving. Our program is giving consumers, chefs and caterers, for example, the knowledge and opportunity to purchase Florida’s flavorful, healthy and delicious berries when they least expect them – in the winter and all the way through March.
“Many Americans have the notion that strawberries are only a spring and summer fruit, but today they are discovering that they can enjoy a taste of summer all winter long. Florida strawberries are rushed to market in refrigerated trucks just hours after picking and packaging.
“There is helpful information for consumers on strawberry packages at the supermarket indicating where the product was grown. We realize that purchasing home-grown produce and other products is a priority for many consumers today,” Harrell continued.
New Year’s resolutions have spurred Americans to lose weight and stick to a more healthy diet in 2009. Strawberries can help. Eight strawberries contain more vitamin C than one orange. A one-cup serving (about eight to 10 medium-size berries) contains 45 calories and has no fat, cholesterol or sodium. They are an easily portable snack food that may be eaten out-of-hand or added to beverages, salads, side dishes, entrees or low-calorie desserts.
Most consumers have digested information over the past several years about the benefits of antioxidants. Antioxidants are natural healthful compounds found in fruits and vegetables such as strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and red cabbage. They make food appealing due to their rich color, and they are potent enough to neutralize harmful free radicals in our bodies. Free radicals are responsible for playing a role in cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, cardiovascular disease, cataracts, macular degeneration and even the age-related mental slippage that makes us forget where we left our car keys or glasses.
According to scientists at the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), the chief scientific research agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), when it comes to certain antioxidants in strawberries, it seems that the more you eat, the greater the benefit.
To find out, they assessed the human body’s capacity for absorbing certain key antioxidants from strawberries. In the study, a dozen volunteers ate three different serving sizes of strawberries during three separate treatment periods. Each two-day treatment included 3.5 ounces, 7 ounces or 14 ounces of blended strawberries, along with a full diet of carefully controlled foods. Each treatment period was separated by a one-week break.
The ARS scientists found that the human body can assimilate more anthocyanin pigments as the intakes increase, thus confirming that the body does not “max out” regarding the amount of antioxidants it can absorb from foods.
The ARS scientists offered some very practical advice. Eat some food that is rich in antioxidants with every meal. There are many choices that are full of antioxidants; strawberries, plums, grapes, blueberries, blackberries, cherries and kiwifruit are just some examples.
Nutritious, delicious and so much more!
Select strawberries for their delicious taste, nutritional benefits and convenience.
- Eight medium strawberries contain more vitamin C than one orange.
- Strawberries are virtually fat free, contain no cholesterol and are an excellent source of folic acid that helps the body metabolize protein.
- Eat strawberries out-of-hand when you are on the run. Just wash and bite—anytime, anyplace.
- Health, convenience and deliciousness are just three reasons strawberries are such a popular produce pick.
- Research by the USDA indicates that strawberries may help fight cancer, heart disease and other ills.
- A serving size of strawberries is one cup—about 5 ounces, or eight to ten medium-size berries.