Most of the strawberries beginning to show up at Farmers Markets and natural food stores throughout the Seattle metro area are the locally-grown ‘June-bearing’ type rather than the everbearing varieties that are popular with larger growers. Why is this good to know? These local berries are deeply flavorful, juicy, and red all the way through, while everbearing varieties have white centers. This deep red color isn’t just pretty to look at—-it signals higher phytonutrient content.
All strawberries contain an impressive combination of different phytonutrients including anthocyanins, flavonols, terpenoids, and phenolic acids. More than other fruit, ripeness has a large impact on the phytonutrient content of strawberries, especially the polyphenols.
Kaempferol is one of these. Kaempferol is a flavonol (a flavonoid polyphenol) that has been shown to help make cancer cells more sensitive to anti-cancer agents such as chemotherapy. It is also a strong antioxidant that helps prevent DNA damage that can lead to cancer-promoting mutations. Kaempferol is somewhat unique in that it has been shown to inhibit cancer cell growth, inhibit blood supply formation for cancer cells, and promote cancer cell death while preserving normal cell survival. These cancer fighting properties can be enhanced when kaempferol is consumed with quercetin, another phytonutrient. Fortunately, both of these phytonutrients come conveniently and deliciously packaged together in strawberries.
Strawberry-Spinach Salad with Balsamic Reduction Dressing
The recipe below provides extra kaempferol, quercetin and other phytonutrients from spinach, pecans, and cucumbers. It also serves as proof that strawberries aren’t just for dessert!
- 8 oz washed spinach, torn into small pieces
- ½ c. diced celery
- 1 c. sliced English cucumber
- 2 c. fresh strawberries, sliced
- 2 oz honey pecans
- 1 recipe balsamic dressing (below)
- 2 oz crumbled goat cheese (optional)
- Toss together spinach, celery, cucumber, strawberries, and pecans.
- Add dressing and toss well to coat.
- Divide between 4 plates. If desired, add crumbled goat cheese. Enjoy!
Balsamic Reduction Dressing
- ½ c balsamic vinegar
- 2 T. honey
- ¼ c. extra virgin olive oil
- 1 t. finely chopped fresh rosemary or tarragon
- Salt and pepper to taste
- In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring the vinegar and honey to a boil.
- Immediately reduce heat to medium or medium-low until mixture just simmering.
- Simmer until the mixture is reduced to half. This will take about 5-7 minutes.
- When mixture has cooled, whisk in olive oil, herbs and salt, and pepper to taste.
Kim Jordan is the Manager of Medical Nutrition Therapy Services at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance.