By Nicole Parmenter, Dietetic Intern for FitNutrition, LLC and Providence College Athletics with Katie Jeffrey, MS, RD, CSSD
Just about this time in the midst of winter, many of us begin to long for spring, when those cool sunny days slowly merge into warmth and the sun hangs around just a bit longer. As spring commences, Mother Nature blesses us with some very colorful and delicious produce. Why not take advantage of some of this bountiful produce? Since the window of opportunity is short, watch for these gems beginning in April. Here are some of the top nutrient-packed ingredients spring has to offer:
- Fava Beans
- Fiddlehead Ferns
- Garlic Scapes
- Swiss Chard
Many of these ingredients offer multiple health benefits ranging from antioxidants to vitamins and minerals to phytochemicals. For example, asparagus contains saponins, powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer agents. Saponins have repeatedly been associated with lower blood-pressure and improved blood sugar levels and blood lipid levels. Fava beans and peas are great sources of lean vegetable protein providing vitamins B and K, and an abundance of minerals such as magnesium, iron, folate, manganese, potassium and copper. And, of course, fiber! Because of their fiber and protein content, fava beans and peas are excellent sources for regulating blood sugar and insulin levels.
Carrots are known for their carotenoids which the body converts to vitamin A to extract their antioxidant benefits. Carrots also contain specific phytonutrients called polyacetylenes. Polyacetylenes have been shown to prohibit the growth of colon cancer cells. As you can see, the benefits are endless.
To sample some of these spring gems, see the following recipe links from Food & Nutrition sponsored by The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics:
Warm Asparagus Salad with Walnut Oil Vinaigrette
Toasted Barley Salad with Fava & Fennel
Curry Roasted Baby Carrots
“Asparagus.” The World’s Healthiest Foods. The George Mateljan Foundation, 2015. Web. 13 Feb. 2015.
“Carrots.” The World’s Healthiest Foods. The George Mateljan Foundation, 2015. Web. 13 Feb. 2015.
“Spring Eating: Toasted Barley Salad with Fava & Fennel.” Food & Nutrition. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, May 2014. Web. 12 Feb. 2015.