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Sunday, July 5, 2015

STRAWBERRY - NUTRITIOUS FRUITS


STRAWBERRY (Fragaria x ananassa) is a small, low-lying, spreading shrub and botanically,the plant is a low-growing runner (creeper) belonging to the family of Rosaceae in the genus of Fragaria. The strawberries in Malaysia are grown commercially in highland area especially at Cameroon Highland and Lojing. There are about 1,100 hectare CHE of strawberries grown annually using fertigation technology and in the glasshouse structure in that area. Most fruits are for fresh consumption and processing. Strawberries bears small white flowers which eventually develop into small conical, light green, immature fruits. They turn red upon maturity with each berry featuring red pulp with tiny, yellow color seeds piercing through its surface from inside. Its top end carry a green leafy cap and stem that is adorning its crown. Each berry features conical shape, weighs about 25 grams and measures about 3 cm in diameter. The berries have the taste that varies by cultivar, and ranges from quite sweet to acidic.  Although wild varieties are sometimes available in the market, large-scale production uses the modern "plasticulture" system. In this method, raised beds are formed each year, fumigated, and covered with plastic, which prevents weed growth and crop spoiling. Delicious, rich-red, sweet, yet gently tart strawberries are among the most popular berries. These berries are native to Europe, however, nowadays cultivated as an important commercial crop in many temperate regions all over the world. This article in "Anim Agriculture Technology" contain about strawberries nutritious fruits and how to consume.
 

Health benefits of strawberries depends on fruit quality. Strawberry is low in calories (32 cal each 100 g) and fats but rich source of health promoting phyto-nutrients, minerals, and vitamins that are essential for optimum health. Strawberries have significantly high amounts of phenolic flavonoid phyto-chemicals called anthocyaninsand ellagic acid. Scientific studies show that consumption of these berries may have potential health benefits against cancer, aging, inflammation and neurological diseases. Strawberry has an ORAC value (oxygen radical absorbance capacity, a measure of anti-oxidant strength) of about 3577µmol TE per 100 grams. Fresh berries are an excellent source of vitamin-C (100 g provide 58.8 mg or about 98% of RDI), which is also a powerful natural antioxidant. Consumption of fruits rich in vitamin C helps the body develop resistance against infectious agents, counter inflammation and scavenge harmful free radicals.
The fruit is rich in B-complex group of vitamins. It contains very good amounts of vitamin B-6, niacin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid and folic acid. These vitamins are acting as co-factors help the body metabolize carbohydrate, proteins and fats. Strawberries contain vitamin A, vitamin E and health promoting flavonoid poly phenolic antioxidants such as lutein, zea-xanthin, and beta-carotene in small amounts. These compounds help act as protective scavengers against oxygen-derived free radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS) that play a role in aging and various disease processes. Furthermore, They contain good amount of minerals like potassium, manganese, fluorine, copper, iron and iodine. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps controlling heart rate and blood pressure. Manganese is used by the body as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme,superoxide dismutase. Copper is required in the production of red blood cells. Iron is required for red blood cell formation. Fluoride is a component of bones and teeth and is important for prevention of dental caries.



The selection and storage oh strawberries can be available year-round in the stores but are fresh and plentiful from spring through mid-summer in temperate country but in Malaysia are all year round. Choose berries that feature deep red with attached green caps, plump, shiny, free of sand and mold. Avoid those appear dull, sunken or flattened and those with signs of mold, cuts or discolored patches on the surface. Unripe berries have green or yellow patches on their surface. Since the berries cease ripening soon after their harvest, unripe berries should be avoided as they are likely to be sour and of inferior in quality. They perish early and therefore, should only be purchased a few days prior to use. Before storing inside the refrigerator, sort out any damaged and those affected by mold so that they should not spoil healthy ones. Place them in a wide bowl or spread out on a plate covered with a paper towel. They keep fresh inside the refrigerator for a day or two. Use them as early as possible. For extended storage, place them in the freezer compartment.

For preparation and serving tips better to wash strawberries, dip them in cold water in a large bowl for few seconds and swish gently few times. This helps remove any sand and insecticide/fungicide residues. Then, gently pat them dry using a paper towel or cloth. This method also helps berries bring back to normal room temperature, enriches their flavor and taste. Then remove the stems and caps by simply sniping off with your fingers or using a paring knife. For serving tips it was best to slice fresh strawberries can be a great addition to fruit or green salad. They can be a great snack between meals. Dried strawberry slices can be added in muffins, pie, cakes and are used in cereal flakes as a breakfast meal. The berries are a popular addition to dairy products; as in strawberry flavored ice cream, milkshakes, smoothies and yogurts. As safety profile for strawberries fruits taken may cause serious allergic reactions in some sensitized individuals. Some of the most common symptoms of strawberry allergy include swelling and redness of mouth, lips and tongue, eczema, hives, skin rash, headache, runny nose, itchy eyes, wheezing, gastrointestinal disturbances, depression, hyperactivity and insomnia. Individuals who suspect allergy to these fruits may want to avoid them. Such delicious Cameroon Highland Strawberries plucked from the farms. Thanks!.


By,
M Anem,
Senior Agronomist,
Room 308, Hotel Rosa Pasadena,
Brinchang, Cameroon Highland,
Pahang, Malaysia.
(12 Rejab 1436H)

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