Widely appreciated for their sweet aroma, juicy texture, and bright red color, strawberries are one of the healthiest fruits. Once plucked, the deep red, plump, and firm strawberries don’t ripen further.
A serving of strawberries provides more vitamin C than an orange. Packed with high levels of disease-fighting components called polyphenols, strawberries are fat-free and fiber-rich energy sources. They are also low in potassium and zero in cholesterol. Such characteristics make it diet-friendly and a healthier snack.
Strawberries are rich sources of manganese and potassium too. They are one of the top 20 disease-fighting antioxidant-rich foods.
Composition of Strawberries
While their sweetness comes from sugars, the flavor and color of strawberries come from anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are the disease-fighting components (antioxidants) present in strawberries.
The acidity or citrus flavor of strawberries comes mainly from citric acid. While citric acid contributes to 88% of its acid content, ellagic and malic acids make up the rest, making strawberries acidic with a pH of 3.0-3.5.
A single serving of about eight strawberries provides more vitamin C than an orange. As strawberries ripen, their citric acid content decreases, and sweetness increases, making them more juicy and delicious.
Is Strawberry a Citrus Fruit?
The high citric acid content and its unique flavor often raise the question, is a strawberry a citrus fruit? To answer this: no, strawberries are not citrus fruits.
Though strawberry is citrus in nature and is famous as a berry or a fruit, it is not a fruit but an enlarged receptacle (stem) of the flower. While citrus fruits have seeds inside, strawberries have seeds on the outside. Strawberry is achene; it does not open up to give up seeds. But, it has seeds on its surface. While citrus fruits grow on trees and shrubs, a strawberry is a creeping ground cover and not a fruit that grows on trees or shrubs. While citrus fruits belong to the Rutaceae family, the strawberries belong to the Rosacea family or the Rose family.
Although strawberries are not citrus fruits, they taste similar to citrus fruits due to their exceptionally high citric acid content. Citric acid is a weak organic acid that is naturally present in fruits, especially citrus fruits. Citric acid is a natural antioxidant that people use for flavoring. Citrus fruits such as oranges and lemons are the highest sources of citric acid, says a study titled “Citrus Fruits” published in the Encyclopedia of Food and Health.
Strawberries and citrus fruits have certain things in common, such as high vitamin C and citric acid. That is why strawberries taste a little like citrus fruits. But they are not.
Strawberries also have a short shelf life, just like citrus fruits. Soon after harvest, their vitamin C content starts decreasing rapidly. They are best consumed fresh, right after harvest.
Advantages of Strawberries
Powerful antioxidants called anthocyanins and polyphenols present in strawberries contribute to their unique health benefits of it. Strawberries fight against various conditions, such as diabetes (high sugar levels), heart diseases, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, osteoarthritis (joint aches), and many others. They delay nerve aging too. Strawberries also fight the signs of inflammation, such as redness, swelling, pain, fever, and difficulty moving.
An article named “Antidiabetic, Lipid Normalizing, and Nephroprotective Actions of the Strawberry: A Potent Supplementary Fruit” published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences, mentions the following health benefits of strawberries.
- Strawberries increase the good cholesterol (HDL) and reduce the bad cholesterol (LDL) and fight heart diseases.
- Strawberries fight diseases present for a long time (chronic diseases.)
- Strawberries improve liver function.
- Strawberries for four weeks significantly improve blood sugar levels. Major phenolic compounds present in strawberries, such as catechin, quercetin, and ellagic acid, fight diabetes. Strawberries also fight the complications of diabetes, such as kidney diseases.
Are Strawberries Safe for Everyone?
Strawberries are generally safe. However, if you have an allergy to fruits like apples, you might be sensitive to strawberries too. Those who have bleeding disorders might need to use strawberries with caution. People who experience GERD or acid reflux should consume strawberries in moderation.
Owing to its innumerable benefits, strawberries are considered a superfood. Though strawberries are rich sources of citric acid, they do not belong to the category of citrus fruits. Strawberries not only protect your heart but also fight against diseases, such as cancer, diabetes, heart diseases, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. Being rich in vitamin C, citric acid, and healthy sugars, strawberries carry the best benefits owing to the healthy, soulful combination of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Abdel-Salam, O. M. E., Youness, E. R., Mohammed, N. A., Morsy, S. M., Omara, E. A., & Sleem, A. A. (2014). Citric acid effects on brain and liver oxidative stress in lipopolysaccharide-treated mice. Journal of Medicinal Food, 17(5), 588–598. https://doi.org/10.1089/jmf.2013.0065
Mandave, P., Khadke, S., Karandikar, M., Pandit, V., Ranjekar, P., Kuvalekar, A., & Mantri, N. (2017). Antidiabetic, lipid normalizing, and nephroprotective actions of the Strawberry: A potent supplementary fruit. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 18(1), 124. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms18010124
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