We’re not far from strawberry season, folks. They are the first fruits to ripen each spring. Besides tasting just plain good, they’re also good for you. Because their benefits are far too many to list — unless you’d rather read a lot and eat a little — we’ll hit the highlights.
- Strawberries fight wrinkles. The fruit is loaded with vitamin C, which produces collagen, and collagen helps to improve skin’s elasticity and resilience. One serving of strawberries provides more vitamin C than an orange.
- The heart-shaped fruit is good for your heart, too. Coincidence? Maybe. But it’s definitely a juicy fact that should make you feel good about liking strawberries. They are a perfect choice for heart health because strawberries not only contain essential elements, including potassium that helps the heart function properly, but they are also naturally free of fat, sodium and cholesterol. That means that strawberries help control three of the risk factors associated with heart disease — high cholesterol, high blood pressure and high homocysteine levels. And one serving of strawberries, the equivalent of about 8 berries, contains only 43 calories.
- Mounting research and positive test results suggest that strawberries help fight cancer, too. The mighty phytonutrient ellagic acid gets the credit. It’s found in berry seeds, and various studies have shown that people who consume foods high in ellagic acid are three times less likely to develop cancer than compared to those who consume very little. Strawberries are also good sources of antioxidants and folic acid, as well as excellent sources of vitamin C, which decreases the risk for esophageal cancer. One cup of strawberries provides 100 percent of your recommended daily allowance of vitamin C.
- Strawberries are high in fiber. High-fiber foods bring multiple benefits to the body. They’re filling, and they help to control blood sugar and keep cholesterol levels down. Strawberries also enhance digestive regularity, making fiber another key factor in weight control. Research has found that 1 gram of fiber eliminates 7 calories, so consuming the recommended 25 to 35 grams daily could cancel out nearly 300 calories for a 30-pound weight loss in one year.
Need more reasons to like strawberries? Get them here from Eating Well.
Sweet potatoes are suddenly giving their white-skinned cousins a run for their money. While we certainly can’t pinpoint exactly why, the U.S. Department of Agriculture suggests that sweet potato consumption increased nearly 80 percent between 2000 and 2014 and sweet potatoes continue to gain popularity here and abroad.
Growing consumer demand for sweet potatoes may be due to mounting evidence that they are one of the world’s healthiest foods. Sweet potatoes are higher in beta carotene than many other vegetables and are a tremendous source of potassium, fiber, and vitamins A, C and E.
>> Read: 5 Huge Health Benefits of Sweet Potatoes
In October 2015, McDonald’s began trial testing sweet potato fries in Amarillo, Texas. And the North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission recently released two surveys that suggest the super food is finding its way onto restaurant menus more frequently. The findings, published in The Packer, showed:
- About two-thirds of consumers eat sweet potatoes in restaurants — baked, fried, whipped and in gourmet recipes.
- About 15 percent of a la carte sweet potato sides are upgrade menu options, netting an average of $1.50 more per order.
- 75 percent of diners believe sweet potatoes are healthy and nutritious. >> Read the full story
Demand for U.S. sweet potatoes is rising in Europe, as well. Exports on all forms of sweet potatoes to Europe reached $92 million in 2015, up 35 percent compared with 2014, according to a news release from the American Sweet Potato Marketing Institute.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that the United Kingdom was the second largest export market for U.S. sweet potatoes in 2015, after Canada. Exports of U.S. fresh and dried sweet potatoes to the UK from January through November 2015 totaled nearly $53 million, up 45 percent compared to the same period in 2014.
Richter and Company Produce welcomes Chappell Farms to its farm family. Peaches have been part of the Chappell name for five generations, dating back to 1927. The year that James Chappell planted his first peaches in Candor, North Carolina, Calvin Coolidge was president; Charles Lindbergh flew from New York to Paris in a single-engine plane; Ford debuted the Model A; and the Yankees swept the Pirates in the World Series.
Great-grandson Pat Chappell continues the family business from his home base in Kline, South Carolina, where he moved in 1952 and planted his first 100-acre orchard. The farm has since grown to 1,000 acres and sells mostly early-variety peaches — the first to be plucked from the tree, usually in early May but sometimes in late April if the stars align.
Chappell’s is the southernmost peach farm along South Carolina’s Coastal Plains, where winters are mild, summers are warm and ample rainfall keeps crops well-hydrated — perfect conditions to grow early fruit bursting with flavor. Dedication to quality and craft have established “Pat’s Pride” as one of the South’s best early brands.
Richter Produce now markets three South Carolina peach farms: Chappells in Barnwell County, Cotton Hope in Aiken County and McLeod Farms in Chesterfield County. South Carolina is traditionally the nation’s second-largest producer of peaches, trailing only California and ironically ranked just ahead of Georgia, the Peach State. The fresh fruit and vegetable industry provides an annual economic boost to state revenues of more than $150 million.