A feast for the eyes as well as the palate, strawberries are one of nature’s most beautiful and delicious fruits (even if they aren’t actually berries). They also happen to be a great, low-calorie addition to a healthy lifestyle, packing enough vitamin C, manganese, and fiber for a berry nutritional punch (sorry we’re not sorry).

Into The Patch — Why It’s Super

The star player in strawberries is vitamin C, an antioxidant that helps build and repair the body’s tissues, boosts immunity, and fights excess free radical damage. Studies also suggest vitamin C promotes healthy eye function and might even inhibit wrinkle formation (at least in mice!)Eye Sensitivity and Vitamin C. McIntosh, EN. American Journal of Public Health 1982 Dec; 72(12): 1412-1413.Anti-wrinkling effects of the mixture of vitamin C, vitamin E, pycnogenol and evening primrose oil, and molecular mechanism on hairless mouse skin cause d by chronic ultraviolet B irradiation. Cho, H., Lee, M., Lee, J., et al. LG Household & Healthcare Research Park, Daegeon, Korea. Photodermatology, Photoimmunology & Photomedicine 2007 Oct; 23(5): 155-62.. In one recent study, researchers found the specific antioxidant content in strawberries might help control cholesterol levels. Participants with high cholesterol who were given a diet rich in strawberries showed a reduction in LDL (“bad”) cholesterol similar to a control group given oat bran supplementationThe effect of strawberries in a cholesterol-lowering dietary portfolio. Jenkins, D., Nguyen, T., Kendall, C., et al. Clinical Nutrition & Risk Factor Modification Center, St. Michael’s Hospital, Toronto, Canada. Metabolism 2008 Dec; 57(12): 1636-44.. Combined with its high vitamin content, strawberries’ cholesterol-checking effect makes this fruit a dietary dual threat (triple, if you count taste).

So Berry Good — Your Action Plan

Strawberries are a tasty, low-calorie treat (49 calories per serving), but it doesn’t even take much to reap their nutritional benefits. Just one cup of the dimpled diva more than satisfies the daily requirement for vitamin C (75 milligrams per day for women and 90 for men). An 8-ounce serving also packs more than a quarter of the suggested daily value of manganese, along with a respectable 3 grams of dietary fiber. But take caution! While these succulent fruits may seem like nature’s golden child, beware of strawberry allergies. More common among infants and children, these allergies can lead to swelling and tingling in the mouth, watery and itchy eyes, runny nose, asthma, and sneezing. More severe symptoms are rare, but avoid strawberries and consult with a physician if even mild allergic symptoms occur. Strawberries are a heavenly treat, especially when they’re in season (April in Florida and Texas, May in the deep South, and June in Northern states). Stock up now before the season comes to a close! Photo by Jordan Shakeshaft