22 Superfoods You Need To Stay Healthy This Spring
April 1, 2016
22 Superfoods You Need To Stay Healthy This Spring
The labeling of “superfood” is problematic for me. The word is used so often to describe so many things that it has become a marketing buzzword in the food industry — kind of like “all-natural” — verging on meaningless.
The more superfood becomes a blanket term, the less power it has to inform people on quality and, in turn, we trust it less. For the purposes of this article, we have rounded up nutrient-rich foods available during the spring months, from mid-march to mid-June. It’s as much about seasonality as it is about ranking the “healthiness” of foods.
With the changing seasons and springtime allergies kicking into high gear, there are a few “superfoods” you can add to your daily routine that will help protect you against unwanted illnesses, so you don’t have to miss out on the fabulous weather.
Pick up sweet California strawberries bursting with flavor from the grocery store to boost your immune system and keep your blood pressure low. Stock up on fresh parsley, which are an anti-inflammatory food, or channel your inner Popeye with lots of fresh spinach salads, which promise to boost energy.
We aren’t discriminating; we love all foods, super or otherwise, but these foods will go the extra-mile to promote health this spring.
Artichokes actually have two seasons, fall and spring, but this heart-healthy vegetable is at peak season from March through May. Use artichokes, which are high in magnesium (for bone health) and vitamin C (immune system) in salads, dips, tossed in pasta, steamed, and more this spring.
Spring salads are a welcomed sight after winter, and we can’t help but love arugula’s peppery flavor. Arugula prefers the cool weather of early spring. Toss arugula with a simple vinaigrette, add it to omelettes at breakfast, or stuffed into a lunchtime panini. Each addition of arugula will help you get your fill of beta-carotene, magnesium, fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, and folate — basically, arugula is your grown in the ground multi-vitamin.
Asparagus has a relatively short peak-season starting in late March and ending by mid-April. Packed with vitamin K and iron, asparagus will add color to your spring dinner plate, while promoting bone health and boosting energy. Steamed, grilled, roasted asparagus should be tender with a hint of crunch when cooked.
Beets are at their best during cool weather, like early spring and fall. Add this sweet superfood to salads, purée for cold soups, use in your sweets, or pickle for enjoying all year long. Beets help reduce blood pressure, boost energy, and relieve arthritis pain. This superfood is full of vitamin C, potassium, fiber, magnesium, and iron.
From late March to early May, you can find fresh fava beans. Peel open the large pods for sweet spring beans that are tender, nutty, and fresh. With tons of protein (13 grams per cup), they are also a good source of iron and fiber. The younger beans will be the tenderest.
Fennel is still in season in early spring, so get your fill of the crunchy, anise-scented, bulb before summer heat takes it out of season. Rich in potassium, you can slice the white bud and toss in salads or roast until tender, but don’t toss the green fronds, which make a delicious garnish.
While grains are available year round, we can’t help but include this high-protein ancient grain with our spring superfoods because it is an incredible source of protein, containing three times more protein than brown rice. Plus, its nutty flavor and texture is perfect for tossing in spring salads.
Probiotic kefir is a fermented milk product that you should consider adding to your diet this spring if you need a little help in the immune system department. You can enjoy it almost as you would a drinkable yogurt.
Our steady diet of tender kale will have to wait until the fall. The warmer weather will turn the favorite among the dark leafy greens bitter. Instead, try tender, green, leafy lettuces in your salads this spring. Romaine, Bibb, and leaf lettuce are all in peak season in the spring, and boast of plenty of folic acid and vitamin B.
The phytochemicals in leeks will help keep your immune-system powered up during allergy season. Leeks taste best cooked as opposed to raw and have a mild onion flavor. Leek season, which starts in the fall, comes to a close at the end of spring, so enjoy this superfood while you can.
Lemons are at peak season through April, so enjoy plenty of lemonade with this tart citrus to cool off as the temperatures outside begin to heat up for summer. Just one lemon contains a third of the daily recommended amount of vitamin C, which builds collagen. Not to mention it is an excellent, low-calorie way to add a bright kick of flavor to your meals.
More than just a garnish, parsley is an anti-inflammatory food with high levels of vitamin C, K, and A, as well as folic acid. Add it to your smoothies, sprinkle it over your roasted vegetables, purée it in pesto — even nosh on that plate garnish because parsley is one of the most overlooked superfoods.
Pistachios are actually harvested toward the end of summer, but are available year round. This delicious green nut becomes particularly important during your spring diet clean-up for warding off pesky spring colds. Plus their green color fits in perfectly with all the brightly-colored, spring produce.
Ramps, or wild leeks, are part of the allium family, which includes garlic and onions. One of the most photogenic spring vegetables, ramps are as good for you as they are beautiful. They have the intensity of garlic, but with a sweet aftertaste, similar to the milder leeks. They are also noted for containing high amounts of vitamin A (for bone health) and vitamin C (for immune health). In addition to vitamins, sulfides found in the vegetable are linked to a reduced risk for colon and breast cancers.
Scallions, sometimes referred to as green onions, are immature, milder onions that are harvested before a bulb forms. These springtime onions are delicious diced and sprinkled over dishes for a mild onion-y zing, and they contain lots of healthy phytonutrients. Quercetin lowers blood pressure and acts like an antihistamine, so if you suffer from seasonal allergies you might want to add more scallions to your spring diet plan.
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Warm days and cooler nights intensify the sugars in spinach making spring the best season for enjoying the leafy green that is high in iron, folate, and vitamin C. Spinach will help keep your energy levels up, allergies in check, and immune system running smoothly.
Spring garlic is still slightly immature giving it a sweeter, milder taste than the garlic you buy later in the summer. Like ramps, garlic is a member of the pungently scented allium family. As a superfood, garlic is responsible for boosting your immune system, safe-guarding your memory, and revving up your metabolism.
Collagen-producing vitamin C is the side bonus of indulging on sweet spring strawberries. Just slice and scatter on top of salads, your morning bowl of oatmeal, or with a sweet dessert.
Walnuts contain the amino acid tryptophan that helps the body produce serotonin, which makes you feel good, and who doesn’t want to feel good this spring? Add more walnuts to your diet this spring for mood stability and for added crunchy texture to your fresh leafy greens.