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There's no better time to enjoy strawberries than now. It's the season when freshly picked berries are juicy, bright red (not white in the middle) and taste sweet like they're supposed to. (Strawberries don't ripen after they're picked. That's why berries shipped from south of the border can't match the quality and taste of those locally grown.)

It's hard to beat strawberries when it comes to nutrition. One cup of sliced strawberries delivers more than a day's worth of vitamin C (103 milligrams) and is a good source of fibre, folate, potassium and manganese, a mineral that maintains healthy bones and helps regulate blood sugar.

Strawberries also get top marks for their strikingly high antioxidant content. In an analysis of more than 100 different foods, strawberries ranked among the top 20 for the most antioxidants per serving. Not bad for such a tiny fruit.

Antioxidants in strawberries pack a powerful punch. Earlier this year, Harvard University researchers found eating three or more servings of strawberries (and blueberries) per week – versus one serving per month or less – cut the risk of heart attack in women by one-third. Antioxidants in strawberries called anthocyanins may help dilate arteries and prevent the build-up of fatty plaque.

Eating strawberries is also good for your brain. Anthocyanins protect brain cells by fighting free-radical damage and reducing inflammation. They also activate the brain's natural house-cleaning process, helping remove toxic proteins that accumulate as we age.

Strawberries are more than just a topping for breakfast cereal.

From smoothies to salads, strawberries are great in both sweet and savoury dishes. Blend fresh strawberries into a fruit smoothie or protein shake. Layer sliced strawberries with Greek yogurt and granola for a satisfying breakfast or snack. Stir chopped strawberries into pancake and muffin batters.

Sliced strawberries are a great addition to a spinach salad. (The vitamin C in strawberries makes the iron in spinach more readily absorbed by your body.) Blend fresh strawberries into a vinaigrette dressing to serve over greens or use as a marinade. Add sliced strawberries to a wrap made with a whole-grain tortilla, roasted turkey and baby spinach or arugula.

For a healthy dessert, serve sliced strawberries with a dash of balsamic vinegar and orange juice. Or simply enjoy the sweet taste of freshly picked strawberries on their own.

Strawberry nutrition

Per 1 cup, sliced:

  • 58 calories
  • 13.5 grams carbohydrate
  • 0.5 grams fat
  • 4 grams fibre
  • 103 milligrams vitamin C (more than 100 per cent daily requirement)
  • 42 micrograms folate (10 per cent daily requirement)
  • 268 milligrams potassium (5 per cent daily requirement)
  • 0.667 milligrams manganese (30-40 per cent daily requirement)