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During the winter months, seniors living in retirement communities may want to enjoy a delicious yet healthy pick-me-up to brighten their days. Luckily, National Strawberry Day is right around the corner, giving people the perfect excuse to add a bit of sweetness to their lives. When Feb. 27 rolls around, seniors should be sure to whip up some simple dishes centered around strawberries, relishing both the flavor and the health benefits that come from these juicy berries.
Strawberries: a history
American strawberries were not always like the variety that you can currently find in the produce section of the supermarket. In fact, the origin of today's fruit goes back hundreds of years, when types native to North America and South America blended together to form the modern kind of berry that you now enjoy eating.
According to the USDA, it is believed that strawberries from Virginia made their way to France in the 1500s after explorers brought them back from the New World. These berries were bigger and boasted a more saturated color than those seen in Europe at the time. Even though Europeans grew these heartier plants in their gardens for a couple of centuries, it wasn't until the introduction of yet another variety - this time, from Chile - that the modern day strawberry came to be. When horticulturists planted the South American strawberries next to those from Virginia, they crossbred to form a hybrid fruit that was smaller yet still full of flavor, and it can be found in grocery stores today.
What's health got to do with it?
There are a number of health benefits stemming from the consumption of these berries, according to Medical News Today. As you could probably guess from their bright red color, strawberries are rich in antioxidants, which means that consuming them will combat free radicals in your body. For this reason, this kind of fruit can reduce your risk of cancer while allowing you to maintain a youthful glow.
In addition, strawberries contain the flavonoid quercetin. This means that the fruit has anti-inflammatory properties and can decrease your odds of atherosclerosis. Not to mention, eating strawberries regularly could reduce your chances of heart disease, potentially decreasing your low-density lipoprotein - or bad cholesterol - while lowering your blood pressure and even preventing plaque from building up. On top of all this, some studies suggest that consuming these berries may enable you to protect the lining of your arteries, further promoting heart health.
Bearing all of these benefits in mind, you may now have a hankering to celebrate National Strawberry Day by savoring some delectable dishes. While you could always make a traditional strawberry shortcake or simply throw some of these berries into your salad at lunchtime, you may want to incorporate this tasty fruit into your first meal of the day.
Kick start your day with strawberries
What's the best way to wake up your taste buds in the morning? If you work some of these berries into your breakfast, you can start your day on the right note and set the tone for making more healthy food decisions. Just take a look at this recipe for a strawberry parfait and you will see how easy it is to eat these strawberries on a consistent basis:
4 C cut strawberries
1 C fat-free plain yogurt
1 C graham crackers, smashed
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp pistachios, shelled
Take a tall glass and pour in a third of your strawberries. Mix the vanilla extract into your yogurt. Then put a third of that yogurt into the glass on top of your strawberries, followed by a third of your graham cracker crumbs and pistachios. Repeat this process, alternating your ingredients to form layers. Top the finished product with any remaining graham crackers and pistachios you may have.