We’re well into spring, a good time to load up on fresh produce and give your body a recharge after the long winter.
“The joy of spring harks us back to our ancestral roots. After the long, cold days of winter, the first bounty of spring not only renews the earth with a warming, multicolored explosion of abundance, it also provides the sustenance for days that lie ahead,” says Dr Mike Fenster, a cardiologist and professional chef based in Florida. Spring vegetables provide the highest levels of vitamin K, iron, and phytonutrients for your body.
Make the most of the season and load up on these spring superfoods:
The tender young shoots are packed with vitamin K that helps transport calcium to your bones, vitamin A that helps your immune system, proteins, folates and chromium. “Chromium plays a key role in the ability of insulin to remove glucose from the bloodstream. Asparagus is also a great source of fiber, which is sorely lacking in the modern Western diet, and a key component for a healthy gut microbiome,” says Dr Mike.
Regular consumption has been shown to be associated with lower rates of bone, breast, colon, throat, and lung cancer. Asparagus can be consumed in a salad with other spring vegetables, or plain grilled, sautéed or even pickled.
Spring is the best time of year to eat spinach. The leafy vegetable is a great source of vitamin C and folate that strengthen the immune system. It’s also rich in lutein and zeaxanthin, phyto-chemicals that help prevent age-related macular degeneration.
Dr Daemon Jones, a naturopathic doctor in Washington, and author of Eat More Plants, suggests the best way to eat spinach is to toss it into salad. “Try something like a strawberry spinach crunch salad with walnuts and onions. It’s not only flavorful but has loads of vitamin C, and more fiber than orange juice. Vitamin C is essential to maintaining strong blood vessels for heart health and beautiful skin to age gracefully,” she says.
The first greens to come out in spring, peas grow for just about two to three weeks. A cup of peas can provide you with a day’s worth of allergy-fighting vitamin C, and vitamin B1 that boosts your mood and wards off depression. Peas also contain fiber and protein, and can be eaten raw, mashed, baked (in a lasagna), or in a salad with dates and walnuts.
“Studies have shown that the regular consumption of peas and other legumes can significantly reduce the risk of stomach cancer. They also contain the unique saponins, pisumsaponins I and II, and pisomosides A and B, believed to help in the improvement of glycemic control for those with diabetes,” says Dr Mike.
Spring garlic or green garlic marks the appearance of spring. Green garlic is just younger garlic collected prior to the cloves maturing. It boosts the immune system, has anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory qualities, is rich in iron, is good for heart, and can help fight gastro-intestinal infections and the common cold and cough.
“Spring garlic is spicy. According to Chinese diet therapy, this taste is important to help the body detox,” says Dr Carolyn Dean, ND, medical advisory boards member, Nutritional Magnesium Association. Green garlic works well with fish, meat and vegetables. It tastes good just sautéed with butter or olive oil, in mashed potatoes, or in salad dressings and herb salsas.
Artichokes contain high amounts of phytonutrients which have strong positive effects on the liver and heart. They are a good source of potassium, vitamin C, folate, magnesium, dietary fiber and don’t contain fat.
“Artichokes have been shown to reduce the risk of certain types of cancer, reduce blood cholesterol levels and to help mitigate the many complications of diabetes,” says Dr Mike. He suggests simply grilling them with spices and lemon, and serving it with a dip for an unbeatable springtime appetizer.
Recipe: Minty Lentil Salad
By Dr Daemon Jones
- 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup of red wine vinegar
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon of pepper
- 3 cups of water
- 1 cup of green lentils
- 1 cup of finely chopped red onion
- 1 red, yellow or orange bell pepper, diced
- 1/4 cup of chopped fresh mint
- In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, vinegar, garlic, cumin, salt and pepper.
- In a saucepan, add 3 cups of water and bring to a boil.
- Rinse the lentils and drain. Add them to the water and reduce heat. Simmer uncovered for 15-20 minutes.
- Once they are tender, drain and place in a bowl.
- Add bell pepper and red onions. Gently pour the salad dressing over the lentil mixture.
- Top with chopped mint.
Calories: 259, Total Fat: 10g, Sat. Fat: 1g, Carbs: 31g, Fiber: 12g, Sugars: 4g, Protein: 13g, Sodium: 201mg, Cholesterol: 0mg
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