The birds are chirping, the rain is falling and the pollen count is through the roof. That can only mean one thing: Spring has sprung. And with the change in weather comes a new set of seasonal fruits and vegetables that not only taste delicious, but also pack a serious nutritional punch. The next time you head to the grocery store or the farmers market, don’t forget to pick up these five spring superfoods.
Whether you eat them cooked, raw or juiced, beets are nutritional powerhouses chockfull of cancer-fighting antioxidants and potassium. Plus, they’re high in folate, and iron, both important nutrients during pregnancy. Beet fiber is great for improving bowel function and cholesterol. And according to a study from the American Heart Association, beet juice may help lower blood pressure. Find out how to select the best beets as well as simple ways to cook them. And watch this video with naturopathic specialist Pina LoGuidice, ND, for tips on getting the most out of beets.
These delicate green stalks are nutrient superheroes. Asparagus is packed with vitamin K, important for strong, healthy bones; vitamin A, a powerful antioxidant that helps keep the eyes, heart, lungs, kidneys and other organs healthy; and thiamin, which helps maintain brain and liver function. It’s low in calories and carbs, too: One cup has only 27 calories, more than a quarter of which are from protein. Need help incorporating asparagus into your diet? Enjoy it sautéed, in a delicious asparagus soup or in this tomato asparagus salad recipe.
This deliciously sweet fruit is a great choice for spring. Strawberries are a rich source of phenolic antioxidants, which have been found to help reverse inflammation, aid in weight loss and protect against heart disease. They’re also loaded with vitamin C, which promotes immunity, folate and fiber. What’s even better? Strawberries are super low in calories — only 49 calories per cup. Find out how strawberries can counteract the damage of a high-calorie, fatty meal. Plus, check out this diabetes-friendly recipe for homemade strawberry sherbet.
Artichokes are a great addition to your spring menu. Because of their ability to lower blood lipids, they’re a great food for preventing heart disease. Fresh artichokes are high in a carbohydrate called inulin, which has been shown to improve blood sugar in people with diabetes. Plus, artichokes are high in lutein, which can help prevent the devastating effects of macular degeneration. They can even help ease stomach problems like bloating and gassiness. You get all that nutritional goodness with very few calories: One medium-size artichoke has just 60 fat-free calories. Try making your own baked artichoke dip, or check out these other delicious artichoke recipes.
The next time you make a salad, skip the iceberg lettuce and go for arugula instead. It’s got eight times the calcium, five times the vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin K and four times the amount of iron. Like other cruciferous vegetables, arugula contains glucosinolates, which lab studies suggest may fight cancer. In fact, a review of 31 studies found that people who ate the most cruciferous vegetables cut their risk of lung cancer by up to 23%. Try arugula raw or tossed with olive oil and lemon. Or pile it on top of pasta or pizza. Follow these tips for storing arugula properly.