There’s more to these ubiquitous fruits than meets the eye…
It’s finally here… strawberry season. Strawberry month to be exact, as May is National Strawberry Month here in the States. And what better time than May to celebrate these bright red fruits (that’s right, I said fruits — not berries), the weather is perfect, the sun is shining, and we’re standing on the cusp of spring and summer. And with farmers’ markets finally opening after a long, cold winter, it’s the perfect moment to fill a bowl with fat, sun-ripened fruit bursting with flavor, like pure sunshine in a cup. But what you might not know is that there’s more to these ubiquitous fruits than meets the eye. Sure, strawberries are delicious and cute, but they’ll also boost your immunity and make your skin look radiant. Don’t believe me? Read on to learn all about the benefits of strawberries and how to make a nourishing (and tasty, if we’re being honest) face mask.
What are they? Everybody knows strawberries, right? Simple, red, usually sitting plump and pretty in a green farmers’ market box awaiting their destiny of pie, or jam, or to be smothered in yogurt and topped with granola. Turns out these humble little fruits — yes, fruits… not berries — are more complex than you might expect. Strawberries are what’s known as an “accessory fruit,” where the visible “seeds” lie on the outside of the flesh. Why the quotation marks around “seeds”? That’s because what you see on the outside of strawberries are actually the ovaries of the strawberry flower — the seeds are hidden inside (fun fact!). First cultivated in the 17th century from a woodland species and brought to France from Chile, strawberries have come a long way since their humble beginnings — with some twists and turns along the way. Unfortunately, these once diminutive, woodland-growing fruits have grown to jumbo proportions thanks in large part to widespread use of pesticides, chemicals, and fertilizers. While those impossibly enormous conventionally-grown strawberries might beckon from their clamshell container at the grocery store, the modern farming practices that helped them get there are also what landed the everyday strawberry on the Environmental Working Group’s list of the world’s most contaminated foods, the “Dirty Dozen.” You can read more on the specifics of conventionally-grown strawberries here, but this is why it’s so important to always choose organically grown strawberries. Not only will you be getting a tastier, better quality fruit and giving organic farms a boost, but you’ll be avoiding harmful, potentially cancer-causing pesticides and chemicals in the process. Need further proof of the organic strawberries superiority? If you ever find one growing in the wild, eat it (after confirming that it is, indeed, a strawberry) and prepare to be blown away. What they lack in size, real, true strawberries make up for in flavor.
Author’s note: please don’t go running about eating mysterious plants. Find a local farmer or certified forager who can point you in the right direction.
What are the benefits? If you’re not a fan of citrus, consider strawberries as the next best option for a healthy dose of vitamin C. A single medium-sized strawberry contains roughly 10% of your daily value of vitamin C — and that’s just one strawberry. Along with the ability to boost your immunity, strawberries are a good source of fibre, which aids in digestion, and manganese, the nutrient responsible for synthesizing other nutrients like biotin and thiamin and helping to regulate blood sugar levels (among many other benefits). Vitamin C is also just one of the many antioxidants present in strawberries, which work to scrub the body of free radicals, reduce inflammation, and boost cell and tissue repair. Strawberries can also do wonders for your skin, thanks to their high levels of alpha hydroxy acids and salicylic acid, which help to gently exfoliate, renew and detoxify skin.
How do I use them? So! Now that you have your box of beautiful, organic ruby red strawberries, what are you to do with them? While they’re obviously amazing eaten raw (try sprinkling with a little unsweetened coconut – yum!), strawberries are incredibly versatile and lend their flavor well to everything from sweet to savory. Try them roasted in this amazing smoothie, or use them to top off a raw strawberry vegan cheesecake. Slice ‘em up and use to top salads, or create a reduction and drizzle over a vegan pizza to shake up the more commonplace balsamic. Or, go wild and use them in your beauty routine! In the face mask below, the AHA’s, salicylic acid, and vitamin C in strawberries work to gently exfoliate skin while the honey and coconut oil add a dose of moisture. It’s good enough to eat — and I wouldn’t blame you if you did.
5 medium organic strawberries, washed
1 tsp raw unfiltered honey
½ tsp organic unrefined coconut oil, melted
After removing their green tops, mash strawberries together with the honey and coconut oil in a bowl until well combined. Apply to a clean, dry face and allow to sit 5-10 minutes. Rinse with warm water and pat dry. Follow up with moisturizer or face oil of choice.
*If you have sensitive skin, I recommend doing a patch test first. To do this, apply a small amount of face mask to your inner forearm and allow to sit for 10 minutes. Rinse off and wait 24 hours (the face mask above will keep in the fridge if stored in an airtight container). If no reaction, you should be good to go!
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This information is not intended to treat, diagnose or prevent any disease or issue. Please seek your doctor’s advice for any questions regarding a specific condition and before beginning any exercise, diet or health-related regimen.