Three Great Spring Menu Items
Spring is the peak season for many nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables and offers the opportunity to add great, fresh items to your menu every day. Take advantage of early harvests with these three great spring crops!
Asparagus is a local favorite, grows wild in Michigan and is gaining popularity in home gardens. Recent research shows that asparagus contains saponins, which have been shown to have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. Addition of saponins to the diet supports healthier blood pressure, blood sugar regulation, and cholesterol levels. Researchers have also found that asparagus offers digestive support through a compound known as inulin. Inulin isn't broken down in the first segments of our digestive tract with the majority of carbohydrates. Instead, it passes undigested to the large intestine. Once it arrives in the large intestine, it becomes a food source for bacteria that are associated with better nutrient absorption, lower risk of allergy, and lower risk of colon cancer. If you need more convincing ... asparagus are also rich in vitamins A, C and K, B-1, B-2, folate, B-6, manganese, copper and dietary fiber!
Strawberries are low in calories and are one of the top 20 fruits in antioxidant capacity. One serving of approximately eight strawberries contain more vitamin C than an orange, and they are a good source of manganese and dietary fiber. Sweet and tasty, this spring favorite protects your heart, increases HDL - or good - cholesterol, lowers your blood pressure, and guards against cancer! They also contain a good amount of minerals like potassium, manganese, copper, iron and iodine to help support a wide variety of body functions from controlling heart rate and blood pressure to the production of red blood cells. They are handy snacks and are a lot better for you than the chips in the vending machine!
Snap Peas or sugar peas are rich in B-vitamins and iron. Consumed whole, they are high in fiber and aid in reduction blood cholesterol levels. Eat them whole! Those pods have 150% more vitamin C than shelled garden peas and help develop resistance against infectious agents and pro-inflammatory free radicals. Pods are also rich in folic acid, which research suggests can help prevent neural tube defects in the newborn babies. Snap peas are also rich in vitamin A, K and many other essential B-complex vitamins, including pantothenic acid, niacin, thiamin, and pyridoxine along with many minerals such as calcium, iron, copper, zinc, selenium, and manganese. Best yet, you don't even have to shell them!
Take advantage of the great weather and the bounty it brings, not only does it taste good ... good food and good health go hand in hand!