Strawberries for the Win: Weight Loss Benefits of the Rose-Red Fruit

by Marixie Ann Obsioma, MT, undergrad MD on July 28, 2021
Last updated on July 25, 2021

Although they are usually seasonal (particularly in spring (1), strawberries are found in numerous products in the markets – from jams, to desserts, to sweetened beverages. As they taste better than they look, these scrumptious fruits are perfect foods when you’re on a weight loss mission.

Strawberries for the Win: Weight Loss Benefits of the Rose-Red Fruit

Like any other fruit, strawberries are filled with antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins. They are also found to have several health benefits, such as improving blood sugar control, reducing several risk factors for heart disease and inflammation (2). Amidst all of these, you may be left with one question in mind before reading this article: “Are strawberries good for weight loss?” – The answer is simply yes!

Although there haven’t been many studies that prove how strawberries can particularly help with weight loss, these berries are, in fact, low in sugar and calories yet high in soluble fiber and antioxidants – characteristics that resemble a good weight loss food (1).

Strawberry Nutrition Facts

For each 100 grams of strawberries, its nutrient component includes (3):

  • Water: 91 percent (3)
  • Calories: 33 (3)
  • Fat: 0.3 grams (3)
  • Fiber: 2 grams (3)
  • Sugar: 4.9 grams (3)
  • Protein: 0.7 grams (3)
  • Carbs: 7.7 grams (3)

So, if you happen to be a strawberry-lover, you’re in luck! – As per Taub-Dix, strawberries are a good source of fiber, water, and nutrients, and are also found to improve heart health and insulin sensitivity (4). Plus, they are relatively low in carbs compared to other fruits, but they are packed with nutrients like vitamin C and potassium (1).

Not only is this superfood naturally nutritious and sweet, but it can help you shed those extra pounds without depriving yourself. Like raspberries, blueberries, and other berries in general, these tiny red-heart shaped fruits are full of polyphenols – which are naturally powerful chemicals that can help you lose weight (5).

A Note on Carbs and Fiber

Since Fresh strawberries are very high in water, it is not that their total carb content is tremendously low, whereas in 100 grams of strawberries, there are only around 8 grams of carbs. It is important to know that most of these carbs come from simple sugars, such as glucose, fructose, and sucrose, but they do have a decent amount of fiber – which comprises about 26 percent of strawberries’ carb content (6).

Dietary fibers play a role in feeding the friendly bacteria in your stomach and improving your digestive health. They are useful in weight loss and aids in the prevention of several diseases (6).

Moreover, they also possess a relatively low glycemic index (GI) of 40, which means that strawberries do not cause big spikes in your blood sugar levels and are safe for people with diabetes (6).

Other Components Found in Strawberries

Vitamins and Minerals

Apart from those mentioned in the nutrition facts, strawberries contain an abundant amount of the following vitamins and minerals. Also, note that each of these also contain small amounts of many more other vitamins and minerals (6):

  • Vitamin C: Strawberries are good sources of vitamin C, which is an antioxidant that functions in immunity and skin health (6).
  • Manganese: These are abundantly found in legumes, whole grains, vegetables, and fruits (like strawberries). Overall, it is important for many body functions (6).
  • Potassium: This mineral usually plays a role in several essential body functions like blood pressure regulation (6).
  • Folate (Vitamin B9): Folate is a B vitamin that is involved in normal tissue growth and cell function, and is essential for older individuals and pregnant women.

Strawberries also contain few amounts of copper, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, as well as vitamins E, K, and B6 (6).

Plant Compounds

Other than vitamin C, strawberries are also full of antioxidants and plant compounds like:

  • Ellagic Acid: This polyphenol antioxidant is one of the most abundant compounds found in strawberries and is found to offer several benefits (6).
  • Procyanidins: These antioxidants are mostly found in a strawberry’s flesh and seeds. Like ellagic acid, it also provides many beneficial health effects (6).
  • Pelargonidin: This is the most abundant anthocyanin (more on that later) found in strawberries, being mainly responsible for its bright red color (6).
  • Ellagitannins: They converted into ellagic acid in your stomach (6).

Anthocyanins

There are over 25 different anthocyanins found in strawberries, and – as mentioned – pelargonidin is the main one found in this fruit. Since they are responsible for the bright colors of flowers and fruits, they are usually highly concentrated in the fruit’s skin (6).

However, when it comes to strawberries, they tend to have anthocyanins in the flesh. Nonetheless, it is known that anthocyanin content is directly proportional to the intensity of the color, where it increases as the fruit ripens. Foods that are abundant with anthocyanin are commonly associated with several health benefits, particularly to heart health (6).

Ellagitannins and Ellagic Acid

Strawberries are known to be one of the main sources of phenolic antioxidants – being 2 to 11 times greater compared to other fruits (6).

In particular, the two phenolic antioxidants that make up a large proportion of antioxidants in the little red fruit are ellagitannins and ellagic acid. They are recognized to have numerous health benefits, including a reduced risk for cancer and defense against bacteria. In addition, the most abundant ellagitannin found in strawberries is sanguiin H-6 (6).

Weight Loss Benefits of Strawberries

It is proven that these heart-healthy berries are instrumental in weight loss. Plus, the best thing about them is that they are versatile – apart from serving as delicious toppings on your desserts, they are also found to provide notable benefits in the fitness and health industries (7).

That said, here are some reasons you should incorporate strawberries to your weight loss diet.

1. Rich in Ellagic Acid and Anthocyanins

Strawberries are found to have plenty of a dimeric derivative of gallic acid, known as ellagic acid – which restores the normal functioning of the hormones responsible for keeping you lean (7)(8).

On one hand, anthocyanins are water-soluble pigments that are full of health benefits. In strawberries, anthocyanins help in the production of your adiponectin – a hormone responsible for stimulating your metabolism and appetite suppression – which are fundamental to weight loss (7)(8).

Along with anthocyanins, ellagic acid aids in weight loss in at least two ways:

  • As an anti-inflammatory food, they can help you fight inflammation – specifically chronic inflammation, which blocks your weight-reducing hormones (8).
  • Both anthocyanins and ellagic acid slow down the digestion rate of starchy foods by controlling blood sugar spikes after taking in a starchy meal. Moreover, the effects are utilized for controlling the blood sugar surge in people with adult-onset Type 2 diabetes (8).

2. Low in Calories

Weight loss entails creating a calorie deficit, which is achieved either by consuming fewer calories, exercising more, or possibly a combination of both (1).

If this seems difficult for you, another possible way to cut back those calories is by volume eating, wherein you eat large quantities of nutrient-enriched, low-calorie foods to keep yourself full. Among these foods include air-popped popcorn, non-starchy vegetables like spinach, broccoli, and lettuce, as well as fruits like strawberries (1).

Given that a hundred grams of these fruits only contain 33 calories, their low-calorie content makes them a great addition to your weight loss diet plan. So, if you’re planning to lose weight, consider saving up on the calories (7).

In addition, strawberries contain a sufficient amount of water (about 91 percent) – which also plays a role in its low-calorie content (2).

3. High Fiber Content

According to the book “Healing Foods,” Fiber in the fruit can help with sluggish bowel (7). This component boosts your digestion and eases your bowel movement (3).

That said, a good and healthy digestion is crucial to weight loss. Oppositely, poor digestion can result in weight gain, as our bodies are not able to assimilate and absorb the nutrients properly nor eliminate waste efficiently. Oftentimes, this can lead to a slowed metabolic rate, making it more difficult to burn calories properly (7).

More specifically, strawberries are high in soluble fiber – which aids in water absorption and formation of the gel-like consistency in your digestive tract. Studies prove that soluble fiber can reduce the speed of your stomach’s emptying rate and add to fullness feeling to aid in regulating your appetite (2). Each cup contains 3 grams of fiber — which is roughly ten percent of your daily fiber needs (1).

Simply put, fiber helps us poop easier. Furthermore, research shows that increasing your fiber intake can help reduce body weight without applying any other changes in your diet (1).

Interestingly, fiber also functions as a food source for healthy bacteria residing in your gut, enabling them to function better in your body, specifically contributing to an improved blood sugar control. This way, fiber in strawberries can help regulate your appetite and even promote a healthier metabolism (1).

4. Naturally Sweet

Craving for something sweet without the guilt? – Then strawberries are for you! They are known as naturally sweet, making it a great alternative for the less healthy sweets (3).

Although they contain natural sugar, they are digested and absorbed into the bloodstream at a more slowed pace because of the fruit’s fiber content. Thus, the natural sugars found in strawberries are less likely to have similar blood-sugar effects from added sugars in sodas, sweets, and candies (2).

Moreover, strawberries – same as other berries like blackberries and raspberries – have less sugar and carbs compared to most fruits, making them suitable for low carb diets like keto. However, keep in mind that they still contain 8.5 grams of net carbs per cup serving, so you still have to regulate your consumption (1).

Overall, cutting back on added sugars and replacing them with less sugary fruits like strawberry can aid in weight loss by stabilizing your blood sugar levels and controlling hunger and food cravings (1).

How To Include Strawberries in Your Diet

Strawberries can be consumed in a lot of ways – whether it be eaten raw as a snack, or used as a topping on your salad or cereal (2). On that note, when it comes to yogurt, it’s better to cut out small chunks of raw strawberries and add them to your yogurt rather than purchase a flavored one. That way, you can intake less calories and less sugar (3).

You can also enjoy a fresh, cold smoothie in between your meal. However, note that you should not consume more than you should, as this will hamper your weight loss goals (3).

More importantly, it is important to keep in mind that, like any other food, beverages, and supplements, strawberries won’t cause sudden weight loss if you add them to your diet. Still, it does not disregard the fact that they do make a perfect (and deliciously yet guilt-free sweet) addition to your diet (1).

The best way to incorporate strawberries in your diet is to replace higher calorie foods (mainly sweets) with this delectable fruit. As a matter of fact, you won’t have any trouble eating strawberries as an alternative, as they are an easy way to reduce your calorie and sugar intake while still satisfying your sweet tooth (1).

To give you a brief idea, you can try these awesome and tasty variants for breakfast, snack, and of course, dessert!

  • Strawberries dipped in plain Greek yogurt with a trickle of honey (1)
  • Fresh, raw strawberries with a bit of stevia and whipped cream on top (1)
  • Strawberry protein shake using unsweetened almond milk and vanilla protein powder (1)

The recommendations set by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans strictly emphasizes consuming around four servings of fruits daily – and this applies to fruits like bananas, oranges, and apples (2).

Although it may not be harmful for most healthy adults to consume several servings daily, it is also a must for people with diabetes to monitor their blood sugar levels and ensure adjustments to their fruit intake responsibly. Moreover, people following a ketogenic or low carb diet may also need to restrict their intake to adhere to their daily carb allotment (2).

Before anything else, when shopping for strawberries, make sure they are fresh to get the most out of their benefits. Always go for bright red and firm ones (8).

When to Avoid Strawberries

Although strawberries are usually well-tolerated by many of us, allergy is reasonably common – particularly in young children (6).

It is known that they contain protein that trigger symptoms in people who are sensitive to birch pollen or apples, which is popularly known as pollen food allergy. Its symptoms include the following (6):

  • Itching or tingling in the mouth (6)
  • Hives (6)
  • Headaches (6)
  • Swelling of the lips, face, tongue, or throat (6)
  • Breathing problems (in severe cases) (6)

Furthermore, this protein is also linked to the fruit’s anthocyanins. Plus, goitrogens can also disturb the normal thyroid gland function in individuals with thyroid problems. Nonetheless, colorless, white strawberries are normally tolerated by these people (6).

Moreover, strawberries are only keto-friendly in small amounts, so if you are on a no-carb diet, then these little fruits may not help you with your diet goals (1).

It is also known that various strawberry products are usually fortified with added sugar and calories, so it may also hamper with your plans to lose weight. Some various forms of strawberries to avoid include (1):

  • Strawberry jams, syrups, and jellies (1)
  • Strawberry cake, ice cream, and toaster pastries (1)
  • Strawberry wine (1)
  • Dried strawberries (1)
  • Chocolate-dipped strawberries (1)
  • Strawberry-flavored candies or sugary drinks (1)
  • Canned strawberry variants (2)

These strawberry preparations may not be healthy, as most of which have been sweetened with added sugar. On that note, added sugar significantly increases the total number of calories that you eat and it can also cause chronic health conditions like type 2 diabetes, obesity, and heart disease.

According to the most updated Dietary Guidelines for Americans, your intake of added sugar should be restricted to less than ten percent of your total daily calories – which is around 50 grams (or 12 teaspoons) for a 2,000-calorie diet (2).

That said, it is still best to consume them raw and fresh as an addition to your weight-loss diet (2). As they say, it’s best enjoyed as soon as they are picked from the plant. To retain the highest amounts of vitamins, it should be stored whole and unwashed in the refrigerator for up to three to five days (although you can also freeze them up to three months), according to the Old Farmer’s Almanac. This is because slicing or crushing strawberries before freezing can reduce some of their nutrients. Only when they are ready to eat, you can wash strawberries and enjoy them at room temperature (9).

Some Interesting Strawberry Facts

Let’s test your strawberry knowledge with a brief set of trivia about strawberries.

  1. Strawberries are only one of its kind to have their seeds on the outside, and an average strawberry has around 200 of them. Plus, according to DK publishing, their seeds contain small amounts of omega-3 fatty acids (10).
  2. Given that their seeds are on the outside, there aren’t technically true berries like grapes and blueberries (10).
  3. Strawberries are, in fact, members of the rose family. They grow in bushes and smell terrific as they taste (10).
  4. Since Strawberry plants are perennials, they may not bear fruit immediately, but once they do, it remains fruitful for about five years (10).
  5. In Belgium, there is a museum dedicated solely to strawberries – known as Le Musée de la Fraise or “The Strawberry Museum (10).”

Strawberries and Weight Loss

Given their impressive nutrients and unique set of benefits, there is no doubt that strawberries are an excellent addition to your weight loss diet. Since they are versatile, they can also be easily utilized in many recipes.

Although there are no studies currently existing to directly support weight loss and strawberries, they are still deliciously healthy alternatives to sweets with added sugar (1).

Overall, strawberries are a good source of fiber, yet are low in sugar, calories, and carbs (1) – qualities that make up a perfect weight loss food.

References

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