Berry, Berry Good!

The only fruit with seeds on the exterior, strawberry is a power-packed wonder that can give big fruits a run for their nutritional content

StrawberriesDerived from the old English word, streowberies, a variation of strewed, strawberries not only resemble the heart – the symbol of love – but they are also filled with love. Of love for your good health and wellbeing.

A member of the rose family and the only fruit with seeds on the outside, the measure of vitamin C packed in this berry can put a citrus fruit to shame, much to the astonishment of the orange lover.

The largest strawberry producers are the USA, Canada, France, Italy, and Japan. In India, strawberry is still a fruit of luxury as it is mainly grown at higher altitudes where the weather and soil permit its luxuriant growth. Mahabaleshwar, a famed hill-station in Maharashtra, is one such place where you can experience many “strawberry-filled” moments. Remember the famed The Beatles’ song, Strawberry Fields? In Mumbai, it’s not difficult to spot vendors displaying their strawberry wares at the bazaar, or busy traffic signals.


Strawberry was cultivated around 200 BC, when it was greatly treasured by the Romans. It was also considered an aphrodisiac. In fact, a soup of strawberries, borage and sour cream was served to newly-weds for breakfast. In the 13th century, strawberry was used for its medicinal properties – to improve appetite, treat gallstone, hepatitis and other ailments.

Nobody will mind taking something as delicious as strawberries for medicine!

Berry healthy

Strawberries are nutritional gems, rich in vitamin C, vitamin K, dietary fibre and manganese.

Strawberries’ unique phenol content also makes them a heart-protective fruit, an anti-cancer agent, and an anti-inflammatory weapon, all rolled into one. The fruit derives its anti-cancer effect, due to its ellagic acid content. Eating 8-10 strawberries a day is proven to reduce high blood pressure and prevent heart disease too.

Among all fruits with anti-oxidant properties, strawberry ranks second and only next to blueberry in mopping up free radicals like a sponge. Phytonutrients [nutrients derived from plants] specific to each berry provide unique brain-protective benefits. Eating a variety of berries maintains your ability to retain what you know and also learn new information.

The respected medical journal, Archives of Ophthalmology, indicates that eating three or more servings of this wonder fruit per day may lower your risk of age-related macular degeneration [ARMD], the primary cause of vision loss in older adults.

Vitamin C-rich foods, such as strawberries, also provide protection against inflammatory polyarthritis, a form of rheumatoid arthritis, involving two or more joints.

Berry beautiful

Here is a natural, anti-oxidant mask made of strawberry and papaya that can make your skin glow.

Take 2 strawberries, 1/4 cup chopped papaya, 1 tbsp rolled oats, 1 tsp honey and 1 tsp fresh lemon juice. Grind the oats, blend papayas and strawberries until smooth, and warm honey until it is flowing freely. Combine all the ingredients. Apply this mixture on the face and neck and let it remain for 15 minutes. Rinse with warm water followed with moisturiser. For a clear face in a jiffy, mix one tsp of strawberry juice with 1 tsp of egg yolk. Apply a thin film on face and neck. Wash off with warm water after 20 minutes.

Berry Delicious

  • Cook strawberries with a little brown sugar, cinnamon powder and lemon juice. Use it as a topping for pancakes or a filling for crepes
  • Add chopped strawberries into your oats/cereal for added kick
  • Add a few strawberries while you blend your breakfast shake
  • Layer sliced strawberries and mangoes alternating with honeyed-yogurt in a wine glass for a healthy dessert.

When it comes to cooking with this berry, it’s best to keep it simple, preserving the superb taste and colour of the fruit. You can’t perfect something that’s already perfect. While everyone likes the taste of strawberries with cream or a thick slice of strawberry cheesecake, it’s better to eat this power-packed fruit by itself, or as a healthy recipe given below:

Strawberry Pepper Salsa

  • 100 gm strawberries – hulled and chopped
  • 1/2 medium onion-sliced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper/green chilli, finely chopped
  • 1/2 red pepper, 1/2 green pepper, 1/2 yellow pepper, chopped
  • 1 tsp coriander leaves, finely chopped
  • 60 ml fresh orange juice
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Salt to taste.

Wash strawberries with their tops. Dry them with a paper towel. With a paring knife or your fingers snap the top. Chop them fine. Add onion, pepper, and coriander leaves. Pour the dressing [ingredients], sprinkle some salt to taste and freshly cracked black pepper. Chill for two hours.

Serve with grilled fish/chicken, or tofu.

Strawberry Spinach Salad

  • 1 lb/450 mg strawberries
  • 400 gm baby spinach
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp onion
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp sesame seeds
  • Salt to taste.

Wash, dry and chop the berries roughly. Wash spinach thoroughly, removing any tough stems. Dry well. Mix them in a big bowl.

Blend the ingredients well, and pour the dressing on the strawberries and spinach. Mix well.

Serve chilled with the main course a la wild rice pilaf.

Nandita Iyer
Dr Nandita Iyer, MBBS, a Mumbai-based physician, is an enthusiastic writer and a passionate cook.


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