The dark, cold days of winter can also lead to some pretty gloomy moods, but research shows that the simple consumption of certain foods can go a long way to create smiles where there were frowns.

Fortunately for the ever-increasing numbers of Americans who say it is their favorite fruit, strawberries are high on the list.

In fact, strawberries were featured prominently on NBC’s “Today Show” November 2. Registered Nutritionist Joy Bauer included them in a presentation about foods that can improve moods, pointing out that the soluble fiber in strawberries helps slow the absorption of carbohydrates in the blood stream, which helps keep a person’s blood sugar levels (and temperament) more even.

“One of the things that can make people cranky and feel bad is a big swing in blood sugar,” explains Susan Bowerman, MS, RD, assistant director of the UCLA Center for Human Nutrition. “Some people rely on sweets to give them an energy boost. The part they don’t expect is when they come crashing down because refined sugar is metabolized very quickly.”

“Strawberries can help satisfy the craving for something sweet. They taste delicious and the soluble fiber will help to avoid the letdown that can come after the sugar rush,” she adds. “Besides, it makes you feel good just to look at a bowl of strawberries – they’re so pretty.”

According to a survey conducted by the California Strawberry Commission, women, especially, said they connected to strawberries both nutritionally and emotionally. They reported benefits such as easing monthly cycle and menopause symptoms and helping to ease everyday aches and pains.

Additionally, the perception of strawberries as “romantic” spoke to their emotional needs, which contributes to overall health.

Strawberries are a nutritional powerhouse, packed with essential vitamins, fiber, potassium and other compounds that may boost the immune system. Plus, they are naturally low in sugar, high in vitamin C.

Strawberries can also be a healthy, festive addition to upcoming holiday gatherings. Create a delicious, non-alcoholic way to toast the occasion by simply blending fresh or frozen strawberries with sparkling water. Add a sliced strawberry to the rim of the glass for a bright garnish. A diet including strawberries can help everyone say, “Cheers!’

The California Strawberry Commission supports and represents the California strawberry industry with programs in research, education, marketing and issues management. The Commission represents an industry of over 700 growers, shippers and processors.