Nowadays they are consistently one of the most consumed fruits (at least in the top twenty and the most widely eaten berry) and are used to flavour tons of foods such as ice cream and yoghurt.
However what many people don’t realise is that strawberries are one of the healthiest fruits ever too. Importantly for us, they are full of specific nutrients that are fantastic for your skin and can strengthen your defences against acne.
Firstly, strawberries are very low in sugar. One of the great conundrums about fruit is that while they are full of antioxidants and many beneficial phytonutrients like quercetin, they contain lots of natural sugars.
A banana, for example, contains 12 grams of sugar per 100 grams, and if you eat other high-sugar fruits this can quickly add up. Consuming too much sugar is a massive cause of chronic inflammation and thus acne.
Therefore with fruit, it’s important to calculate the perfect combination between the sugar content and the nutritional benefits. For this strategy, strawberries are perfect. 100 grams of fresh strawberries contains just 5 grams of sugar.
That’s extremely low; a banana contains far more, an apple contains about 10 grams of sugar, 100 grams of green grapes contains 16 grams. Even blueberries, one of healthiest fruits ever, contain 10 grams of sugar.
The only fruits that can match the strawberry’s low sugar content are raspberries, blackberries, watermelon, lemons, and limes.
Why is this particularly important? Since you have no fear about overdosing on sugar, you have far more freedom to enjoy the many benefits that strawberries have for your skin. Those benefits include…
Strawberries are very high in antioxidants
Antioxidants are vital for curing your acne and strawberries are full of them. They score approximately 4302 on the ORAC scale, which is great compared to the banana, which scores only 795, or the watermelon with a score of just 142.
The most important function of antioxidants in preventing acne is preventing your sebum from oxidising. This is the single biggest cause of blocked pores and therefore eating strawberries is an excellent way to deprive your acne of the chance to even form in the first place.
Strawberries have performed well under examination too:
- In this 2013 study, a team of scientists took some volunteers and fed them strawberries every day for a month. They analysed the bloodstreams of each patient after both 15 days and 30 days, and found that the level of oxidative stress in their bodies had fallen substantially. Levels of key oxidative stress biomarkers like malondialdehyde and isoprostanes were far lower. The total antioxidant capacity of the patients’ bloodstreams increased by between 25% and 41%. The scientists concluded that “strawberry consumption improves… biomarkers of antioxidant status”.
- Scientists in this study used antioxidant rich strawberry extract, which was especially high in anthocyanin antioxidants. The extract was tested on human cells, and the generation of reactive oxygen species (free radicals) by immune system actors was significantly suppressed. The scientists concluded that “our results confirm that the strawberry possesses antioxidant properties, and may be useful for the prevention of free radical-induced skin damage”.
- In this 2014 study, 31 patients were fed 500 grams of strawberry pulp for 30 days. Blood samples were collected and measured for antioxidant and free radical activity. The total antioxidant activity hadn’t actually changed much after 30 days, but the total amount of oxidants had fallen substantially. There was big inhibition of certain immune system chemicals called chemiluminescences, which spew out free radicals.
- This study fed strawberries or red wine to elderly women. After 4 hours, strawberries increased the total antioxidant capacity of the women’s blood by between 7 and 25%. Part of the increase was due to the vitamin C content of strawberries (which functions as an antioxidant) but scientists noted that “the increased vitamin C… could not fully account for the increased total antioxidant capacity in serum following the consumption of strawberries”.
It seems that strawberries are one of the best fruits for increasing antioxidants ever.
Furthermore, the strawberry’s antioxidants are also extremely varied; this study found that strawberries contain a ton of different ones such as rutin, myricetin, quercetrin, gallocatechin, epigallocatechin, and catechin. That’s great for your acne because antioxidants don’t all have the same effects. Many antioxidants have their own unique functions; lutein, for example, is an antioxidant found in eggs that can protect your eyes from blindness.
As for strawberries, quercetin is known to enhance the digestion of nutrients from food, which makes important nutrients like magnesium more bioavailable. Rutin, also found in bananas, has strong stress-lowering qualities.
We also know that strawberries have a ton of medicinal uses; Europeans in the Middle Ages used the strawberry plant as a cure for depression. Therefore this wide range of different antioxidants makes it far more likely that strawberries benefit your skin through many hidden methods.
Could one antioxidant protect your body’s vitamin A (very important for acne) and allow it to be used better? Who knows, there are so many different compounds that we can’t understand them all, but anything could be possible.
Strawberries – one of the best fruits for vitamin C
Being packed full of vitamin C is one of the strawberry’s standout features. 100 grams of strawberries contains 60mg, which is nearly 100% of the whole daily allowance.
Raspberries are a good source but only contain 43% of the allowance, blueberries only contain 16%, and bananas contain just 20%. The pomegranate, which is a terrific food for acne patients, also has a lot less with merely 17%.
Why is vitamin C so fantastic? Higher levels can accelerate wound healing, and heal old acne scars faster. Vitamin C can strengthen your skin‘s structural proteins and increase their resistance to inflammatory damage.
When you’re stressed out and your cortisol levels get far too high, vitamin C is used to clear the excess hormones from your blood. You get all these benefits from strawberries and they are also quite cheap compared to other fruits. Strawberries also contain vitamin E, calcium, and magnesium, the most overlooked acne mineral in existence.
Studies on the health benefits of strawberries have been just as positive. Strawberries can improve several of the root conditions behind acne:
Lower insulin. Scientists in this study found that eating strawberries with a meal reduced the post-prandial (post-meal) increase in insulin. High insulin is one of the most common causes of acne in the 21st century. Insulin stimulates your sebaceous glands to produce more oil.
Less inflammation. Chronic inflammation is what causes your acne to get red and swollen and there’s evidence that strawberries can help to combat this. Scientists in this study found that eating strawberries with a meal significantly lowered inflammation in the hours following the meal. C-reactive protein was a lot lower and that is a classic indicator of inflammation in the body.
These benefits could be due to the antioxidants, the vitamin C, or some other hidden compounds. What’s certain is that while most fruits will help your acne to some extent, the strawberry rises above nearly all of them.
Pomegranates are an excellent fruit, as we discussed in this article. However, strawberries are even better. They are not as high in antioxidants (the pomegranate scores over 10,000 on the ORAC scale) but strawberries contain far more vitamin C and are also a lot lower in sugar. With pomegranates you could never eat too many of them due to this sugar but with strawberries you’re able to eat a lot more and thus enjoy more of the benefits.
Make the most of your strawberries
One of the only problems with strawberries is that they are highly perishable. Like many berries, they will begin to degenerate if you leave them longer than two days. They won’t grow mouldy and unhealthy, but according to this study the vitamin C and antioxidants will begin to break down and become useless. They examined the strawberries for ten days and found that the nutritional value gradually declined.
However, while the overall decline was very significant in cold conditions, it was also fairly slow. Therefore you can still make the most of the acne-clearing benefits as long as you don’t keep them in the fridge for days and days. Interestingly the study also found that the decline in nutrition depended hugely on the specific types of strawberry. They used two cultivars called “dorit” and “selva” and found that the nutrition in selva was generally better maintained.
Therefore, while you might not know how far the nutrients in your strawberries have degraded, it might not be substantial depending on the specific type you have bought. Your best option for all strawberries is to eat them quickly and store them in the fridge.
Also note that a strawberry that hasn’t properly matured will have lower amounts of nutrients anyway. A fully ripe strawberry is best for your acne and you can spot them by looking for the richest, most full colour you can find.
In terms of fruit and vegetables, we humans are actually designed to find the appearance of the most nutritious foods more attractive. It’s antioxidants like anthocyanins that provide vibrant colours; our brains are helpfully trying to make us eat them.
A pomegranate, for instance, is especially high in antioxidants, and hence to our eyes, it has one of the richest, most vibrant and appealing colours. When it comes to strawberries you should trust your eyes. A strawberry that’s a lighter pink, with bits of white in the mix too, is not fully ripe. The picture at the top of this page is the perfect strawberry.
Watch out for non-organic strawberries!
What’s not up for debate is that many pesticides that non-organic foods are blasted with are highly toxic. Strawberries, unfortunately, contain the greatest chemical contamination of any food in the world. Examination has found that strawberries contain several neurotoxins, numerous carcinogenic (cancer causing) substances, a dozen developmental toxins, and many pesticides linked to hormone disruption.
The problem is that insects particularly love berries, and therefore copious amounts of pesticides have to be used. Some strawberry companies even use chloropicrin, a chemical weapon used by the German army in World War 1! They used it as a tear gas and modern day strawberry companies use it to kill plagues that can devastate strawberry fields.
Therefore I cannot recommend that you eat strawberries if you can’t get them organic. The harmful chemicals could lead to inflammation, as other pesticides do, and if so that could outweigh the advantages from the nutrition.
Such pesticides are notorious for disrupting hormones too. Regardless of your acne, you don’t want to be eating a bunch of neurotoxins.
Luckily, organic strawberries are quite widely available, because strawberries are such a widely consumed fruit themselves. They are also fairly cheap so the classic stereotype about organic food making you go bankrupt definitely doesn’t apply here. Other organic berries cost a lot (particularly blueberries) but organic strawberries are very affordable.
Some more good news is that some of the worst pesticides are facing a minor crackdown; in 2012 the FDA banned methyl iodide, a pesticide commonly used on strawberries that has been linked to cancer. It’s likely that others will be banned, and the strawberry industry is apparently investing in less toxic alternatives.
You still need to go organic for now but stay tuned for more news. Perhaps one day we will be able to eat regular strawberries again.
The ultimate strawberry
The other glorious alternative is to keep your eyes peeled for wild strawberries. They are not as common as blackberries but can be found in many places. Wild strawberries are typically a lot smaller than commercial strawberries and the colour might be slightly different, with small hints of pink rather than straight-up red. They have a similar shape to regular strawberries but do look somewhat different.
Here’s what they look like and also the plant you see them on:
Find this and you’ll have found the holy grail of strawberries, because according to some studies, wild berries contain even higher amounts of antioxidants. The idea is that because they don’t have farmers to lovingly tend to them and keep them safe, wild berries have to develop higher amounts of protection. One of the strategies they use is very high quantities of antioxidants.
Therefore considering that commercial strawberries are already very powerful, the power of wild strawberries could be enormous.
Wild strawberries can be found in both Europe and North America. They can be found on the sides of roads, woodland areas, and meadows. They don’t tolerate strong sunlight very well, so if you live in a southern part of the USA you are more likely to find them in shaded areas.
Apparently deer and similar animals love to eat them, so if you live in a deer infested neighbourhood (like many places in England) you might struggle to find them. What you have to remember about wild strawberries is that they are quite uncommon, but the areas in which they can appear are very widespread.
Strawberries are pretty much the most nutritious commercial fruit available, even beating miracles like the blueberry.
If you enjoy the taste then eating about 100 grams per day is a good idea. If you don’t then raspberries are a healthy alternative; they contain less vitamin C but slightly more antioxidants. Eating strawberries alone will not clear your skin, you have to correct your entire diet and lifestyle, but they’re one of the best foods for strengthening your entire system against acne in the first place.
Strawberries have wide-ranging benefits like preventing blocked pores, lowering stress, combatting insulin resistance and so on. If you were to eat just one portion of fruit per day, I recommend that you make it the strawberry.
Thanks for reading!