APRIL is slap-bang in the middle of strawberry season in Spain.

Usually regarded as a luxurious treat, especially when covered in thick cream, the fruit is grown mainly in Huelva (Andalucia) and exported all over the world.

But as well as their fantastic taste and colourful appearance, strawberries are full of health benefits.

Valencian scientists have published a report highlighting the various areas in which fresas play a vital role, encouraging consumers to include them in their regular menu.

Firstly, the fruit is said to be very rich in vitamin C, E, B3, B6, B2, B1, B9 and A. They are also a prime source of minerals such as potassium, phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, sodium, iron, iodine and zinc.  

They are great for people who are on a diet, as 100 grammes of strawberries contain a mere 35 calories – in fact, 90 grammes out of 100 are water.

Consumers with diabetes or high sugar levels need not worry, as they contain very little carbohydrates and have a low glycaemic index. Their high levels of soluble fibre also helps prevent or improve constipation.

Strawberries: more than meets the eye…

One of the least known benefits of strawberries relates to eyesight, as they include several pigments that offer a high degree of protection against degenerative diseases of the eyes.

The Valencian study also reveals that fresas contain a type of antioxidants known as anthocyanin – a flavonoid that contributes towards delaying the ageing process of cells and preventing cardiovascular diseases and cancer.

Interestingly, teeth also like strawberries, as their high levels of xylitol help combat demineralisation, protect the enamel and reduce plaque.

Strawberries are also diuretic, thus being a great choice for people who suffer from water retention, gout or arthritis.

According to the researchers, strawberries contain proportionally more vitamin C than oranges, making them ideal to prevent or improve anaemia, when this vitamin becomes necessary to correctly absorb iron.   

The salicylic acid they contain has anti-inflammatory properties, but people who are allergic to aspirin are warned that they could also have negative reactions to strawberries, such as rashes.

Finally, thanks to their high vitamin C and water content, strawberries help maintain healthy, hydrated skin by promoting collagen production.

However, it might not be a good idea to cover them in sugar or artificial squirty cream though…

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