Five Spring StarsSome of the great joys of spring line the produce aisles of you local produce store or farmers market. Along with the delicious spring harvest comes some great opportunities to up the nutrition content of your diet, while enjoying it more! Fresh, seasonal produce reaps the most nutritional value. We've picked five of our favorites to share with you!
- Apricots' long growing season last from May to August. Fresh apricots are an excellent source of Vitamins C, E, potassium, and iron, as well as being a great source of beta-carotene. Additionally, two to three apricots offer nearly 50% of your daily value of Vitamin A. Did I mention they're a great source of fiber with the low-overhead of three for 50 calories!
- Artichokes are available year-round, but the best time for truly fresh artichokes is from March through May. A study done by the USDA found that artichokes have more antioxidants than any other vegetable. Some of the powerful antioxidants in artichokes are quercertin, rutin, anthocyanins, cynarin, luteolin, and silymarin. They are also a good source of iron, potassium, magnesium, folate, and vitamin C. A 2-ounce serving has about 3 grams of fiber... all that for just 25 calories!
- Asparagus is one of the first foods to signal the beginning of spring. Fresh asparagus are at their peak from March through June. They are a good source of fiber, folate, vitamins A, C, E and K; and are also a very good source of chromium, which heightens the ability of insulin to move glucose from the bloodstream into cells. Additionally, asparagus is rich in of glutathione, a detoxifying compound that helps break down carcinogens and other harmful compounds like free radicals. Finally, each one of those green spears is brimming with antioxidants that neutralize cell-damaging free radicals. Preliminary research shows it may even help slow the aging process!
- Sweet cherries have a short harvest season, from late spring to early summer. They're not only a highly sought-after summer favorite, they're a true super fruit! Chock full of antioxidants, they help replace free radicals in your body before they can cause any damage. They are rich in the flavanoid queritrin, one of the most potent anticancer agents and contain ellagic acid, a naturally occurring plant phenolic known as an anti-carcinogenic/anti-mutagenic compound, which some researchers say acid may be the most effective way to prevent cancer. It's hard to find a treat that offers so much goodness along with great taste!
- Fava beans are a nutrient-dense food that provide a high amount of nutrients packed in a low amount of calories. You can get 10 to 19 percent of your recommended daily value of vitamin B1 or thiamin, iron, copper, phosphorus, potassium and magnesium in just 1/4 cup of fava beans.They're also an excellent source of folate, and manganese, supporting the immune system function and cardiovascular health while enabling metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins and cholesterol. Fava beans also have 9 grams of fiber in that 1/4 cup and are particularly rich in soluble fiber which may help improve your blood sugar and cholesterol levels.