Spring is here so it’s a great time to enjoy some of the fruits and vegetables that are in season. Not only are theyattheir freshest, but these fruits and vegetables are also a little more affordable at this time of year. The best part eating about fruits and vegetables – any time of year – is that they’re generally low in calories but big in nutrition.
Here’s a look at the health benefits of tasty springtime produce:
Like most fruits and vegetables that have an orange color, apricots are rich in vitamin A. They’re also a good source of vitamin C, fiber and potassium. Apricots make a delicious and healthy snack or can be used in a number of dessert recipes.
Dark red beets contain vitamin C, folate, manganese, potassium, fiber and magnesium. They also contain plant chemicals called betalains that may help reduce inflammation. Beets can be roasted or boiled and served as a simple side dish with a little salt and pepper.
These crunchy root vegetables are a good source of low-calorie fiber. Raw radish slices add a kick to a fresh salad or you can simply dip them in your favorite dip.
Carrots have been studied for their health benefits and as a result, they show up on a few superfood lists. Carrots are high in vitamin A and potassium. They also give you some vitamin C and vitamin B6. They’re versatile too – delicious served raw, steamed, roasted or used in soups and stews.
Try whipped turnips instead of potatoes as a tasty side dish – they’re an excellent source of vitamin, potassium and fiber. The greens are good for you too - they’re a huge source of calcium and glucosinolate, a powerful antioxidant.
Sweet or sour, cherries are a source of vitamin A, vitamin B6 and vitamin C. They even offer a bit of iron. Cherries also contain melatonin – the natural substance that helps you sleep. Cherries can be eaten raw or can be used in recipes.
This leafy green vegetable is the main ingredient of almost any salad. Although lettuce doesn’t have many vitamins or minerals, it’s extremely low in calories. Fresh, tender lettuce leaves can be served with a simple dressing and topped with other fresh vegetables.
Another one of my favorite superfoods, strawberries are chock full of vitamin C and fiber. They’re also a good of potassium. Eat fresh strawberries topped with just a touch of cream or almond milk, or blend them with a banana and juice for a healthful and delicious smoothie.
These little green guys may not look like much, but they’re really a nutritional powerhouse. Peas are rich in vitamin C, potassium, fiber and vitamin A, plus they are a great source of iron, vitamin B6 and magnesium. Serve cooked peas as a side dish.
Fava beans are a good source of vegetarian protein, plus they contain fiber, magnesium and iron. They can be boiled or steamed and served as a side dish.
Fresh herbs have much more flavor and aroma than the dried version. Choose your favorite herbs to add flavor to soups, stews and main dishes.
Shereen Jegtvig is a health and nutrition writer with two decades of experience counseling people on nutrition and diet. She has a master’s degree in human nutrition and is a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the Association of Health Care Journalists. She is the co-author of Superfoods for Dummies and Clinical Anatomy for Dummies. Shereen also teaches The Evidence Based Approach to Nutrition to nutrition graduate students at the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut.
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