Strawberries are bursting with delicious flavor, and they help with weight loss by eliminating the need for a fatty sweet.
Luscious strawberries are the most popular berries and are unique because they are the only fruit with seeds on the outside rather than on the inside. In season, quality strawberries need no extra sweeteners or toppings.
These delicate heart-shaped berries range in size from tiny wild varieties to larger cultivated ones. Generally, smaller varieties are more flavorful. Unfortunately, today's cultivated berries are bred with durability, not flavor, in mind. Still, in late spring and early summer, you can find superbly sweet strawberries at farmers' markets and green grocers.
As with all berries, they are a fabulous fiber find, with those little seeds providing insoluble fiber that keeps you regular and helps fend off digestive system woes, including hemorrhoids and varicose veins.
Most of all, strawberries are a super source of vitamin C, even better than oranges or grapefruit. Strawberries are also a good source of potassium. Because it keeps blood pressure in check, potassium may keep you from becoming a stroke statistic. Also, strawberries contain ellagic acid, a phytochemical with cancer-fighting and anti-inflammatory power.
Selection and Storage
Look for strawberries that are ruby red, evenly colored, and plump, with fresh, green, leafy tops. Big does not translate into flavor; in fact, smaller berries tend to be the sweetest. Avoid strawberries in containers with juice stains or berries packed tightly with plastic wrap. And walk on by if you notice soft, mushy, or moldy berries. Strawberries spoil quickly. So it's best to buy them within a day of serving. Refrigerate unwashed strawberries loosely covered.
Preparation and Serving Tips
Though they are superb served au naturel, strawberries can perk up any cereal, add pizzazz to any salad, or beef up pudding or gelatin. If strawberries become overripe, puree and add them to smoothies or fruit drinks (strain the seeds, if you wish) or drizzle the puree over fruit salad for a low-fat dessert. To bring out the strawberries' sweetness, add a splash of balsamic vinegar.
When you get those signals from your sweet tooth, reach for a handful of juicy, satisfying strawberries, and you won't even miss the shortcake and whipped cream.
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