Alpine strawberries have impressive benefits, such as their ability to soothe indigestion, hydrate the body, boost the immune system, prevent signs of aging, stimulate liver activity, lower cholesterol, detoxify the body, help prevent cancer, relieve inflammation and treat respiratory disorders.
There are some side effects to be wary of, including skin inflammation, allergic reactions and certain negative side effects in pregnant women. However, moderate use and proper preparation of these berries will help you avoid most of these unpleasant effects.
What are Alpine Strawberries?
Alpine strawberries go by many names, including wild strawberry and European strawberry, but the scientific name of these berry plants is Fragaria vesca, or Fragaria alpina, according to some experts. Unlike common strawberries (Fragaria x ananassa), which are a hybrid of members in the Fragaria genus, these strawberries grow in the wild and have been consumed by indigenous people since the Stone Age. Alpine strawberries are also reputed to be sweeter, more flavorful and easier to grow! Their health benefits are legendary, and every part of these plants have been used for some type of medicinal application. From the juice and leaves to the fruit, stems, and roots, this plant is packed with beneficial nutrients that can deliver a number of notable health benefits.
Most of these effects on the body can be attributed to the high levels of vitamin C, vitamin A, B-family vitamins, potassium, tannins, flavonoids, proanthocyanidins, phenolic compounds, and other volatile acids and antioxidants.
Benefits of Alpine Strawberries
Alpine strawberries are not as widely used as in the past, but they are still beneficial for people suffering from dysentery, gout, arthritis, premature aging, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, liver damage, a weak immune system, and high toxicity. These berries also help reduce cancer risk, respiratory infections, indigestion, constipation, and dehydration, among others.
Rich in Vitamin C
Alpine strawberries are rich in vitamin C, which is known to boost the immune system by stimulating the production of white blood cells, while also acting as an antioxidant throughout the body. Traditionally, these strawberries were used to prevent dysentery and vitamin C deficiency, which also helped speed repair and collagen production.
Prevent Premature Aging
The juice of alpine strawberries is high in antioxidants and is often topically applied to the skin to eliminate wrinkles and age blemishes. There are natural bleaching agents in alpine strawberries that can also help clear up the skin, balance out skin discoloration and speed the healing process of wounds and insect bites.
Regulate Blood Pressure
Moderate levels of potassium found in these wild strawberries can help to lower blood pressure and protect cardiovascular health. Potassium is a vasodilator, meaning that it can reduce stress on blood vessels and arteries, which lowers your risk of atherosclerosis, heart attacks, and strokes.
Prevent Liver Damage
When the juice of alpine strawberries is consumed on an empty stomach, it is known to stimulate liver function and help to heal damage from cirrhosis and hepatitis. Although liver cells regrow very slowly, regular use of the juice from wild strawberries can speed that recovery process.
The leaves of the alpine strawberry plant have long been used to treat gastrointestinal problems, including constipation, diarrhea, nausea and high acidity levels. This leaf preparation is also excellent for stimulating appetite and improving digestive efficiency and nutrient uptake.
There is a wide range of flavonoids, phenolic compounds, tannins, and proanthocyanidins in alpine strawberries. These polyphenols in strawberry extracts initiate certain biological activities that help in lowering the risk of breast cancer, according to a 2016 research paper.
Detoxify the Body
The leaves of the alpine strawberry plant are known to have diuretic properties, and when brewed into a tea, they can help to detoxify the body and improve kidney function. Excess urination lowers stress on the kidneys and promotes the elimination of excess fats, salts, toxins, and water from the body.
Despite having so many nutrients, alpine strawberries also have a high water content, and these berries were traditionally picked by travelers on the road, as they could maintain hydration levels and increase energy.
Heal Sore Throat
The leaves of this plant can be boiled in water for 4-5 minutes until the active ingredients are released, and then the resultant liquid can be drunk to eliminate inflammation and pain in the throat. This is particularly effective for people struggling with cold and flu symptoms, as this brew can also help reduce congestion.
How to Eat Alpine Strawberries?
You can eat alpine strawberries much the same way as you would eat common strawberries, either mixed in fruit salad, fresh when picked by hand, or added to the tops of cereal, salad or desserts. Alpine strawberries are notably smaller than common strawberries, and when they are ripe, they are quite soft and easily crushed. One popular way to eat these fruits is to pour a bit of milk or cream over the berries, add sugar, and then mash the berries to release the juice.
The taste is very poor until they are ideally ripe, which is easy to tell by the extremely fragrant smell around these fruits. In fact, the aromatic compounds released upon ripening can fill up an entire room. The plants do not grow many berries at once, unlike their more common cousin, so they are considered a delicacy in many cultures, particularly in Europe.
How to Grow Alpine Strawberries?
Alpine strawberries have a reputation of being hard to grow, but that isn’t necessarily true. They are quite easy to grow from seed, provided you start them at the right time of year and are diligent in your care. If you follow these simple steps, you could have a lovely ground-cover alpine strawberry plant in your own garden by next spring! The best conditions to grow alpine strawberries are slightly acidic, well-draining soil exposed to partial sun and regular precipitation.
- Step 1: Choose your variety of alpine strawberry (depending on the climate you live in, do your research on which cultivar is best – Alexandria, Ruegen, White Soul, Yellow Wonder, etc.)
- Step 2: To germinate the seeds, place them on top of moist, acid-rich soil in a small planter. It is important to keep the soil moist at all times; even a few hours of complete dryness can stop the germination process.
- Step 3: Once the seeds have germinated, place the planter in a bright window where it can receive ample sunlight. If germinating seeds outdoors, ensure that the seeds are blocked from wind, but not obstructed from sunlight.
- Step 4: Keep the germinating seeds at a temperature between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit for best results. Lower temperatures will slow the germination process.
- Step 5: Once the plants begin to form, they can be moved out of the planter and into soil outside, but these strawberry plants are fickle, and will often not take unless the soil is ideally matched to their original growth conditions.
- Step 6: Regularly water the plants in the middle months of growth, but ensure air movement so the dampness does not cause rot or other common diseases.
- Step 7: After approximately 4 months, the plant should bear its first delicious fruit!