5 Spring Fruits and Vegetables that Pack Nutritional Punch

Fruits and Vegetables Nutritional Punch, Mountain Medical Arts

Spring is here in full force, and in North Carolina, that means sunshine, flowers, and a time to shake off the doldrums of winter. One of the best ways to do that is to add some fresh fruits and vegetables to your diet, both to add a little variety and to help you get ready for the more active days of summer. Fruits and vegetables are great sources of fiber, which helps keep your gut healthy and functioning at its prime. And depending on the produce you choose, you can jump-start your health with an added dose of vitamins and minerals, too. Even better: Focusing on in-season produce can help you cut costs without sacrificing flavor, and since you can buy a lot of seasonal products locally, it’s a great way to support the neighborhood economy. Here are five fruits and veggies to add to your shopping list.

Asparagus

Asparagus has a relatively short growing season, so if you want it fresh from the farm, spring is the time to get it. Whether you prefer your stalks slim or fat, locally grown asparagus is especially sweet and succulent since it doesn’t have far to travel to get from the fields to your table (and ultimately, your mouth). Not only is asparagus tasty, it’s also full of vitamins, especially vitamins K, A, E, and C. It’s also got folate and chromium, as well as glutathione, a powerful antioxidant that can help “neutralize” the damaging effects of free radicals. Whether you steam it, bake it, or put it on the grill, asparagus is both delicious and nutritious.

Spinach

Popeye knew what he was doing when he reached for all those cans of spinach: Eating spinach is a great way to stay strong and healthy. Lots of people know spinach is a great source of iron, but it’s also full of vitamins A, C, and K, as well as folic acid and calcium. Spinach is great steamed, but it’s also good raw in a salad, when all of those important nutrients are fully preserved. Try some on a sandwich instead of lettuce or juice it. Combine it with arugula, another fresh, spring green, for a peppery kick to salads and stir frys.

Peas

Fresh peas and spring go together like — well, like peas in a pod. Whether you like traditional “shelling” peas or the edible pod varieties, peas can pack a powerful punch of nutritional goodness. Chock full of antioxidants, fresh peas provide you with plenty of protein, vitamins B6, K, C, and A, magnesium, folate, and phosphorous. Peas are delicious cooked, but you’ll get the most bang for your buck nutritionally speaking if you eat them raw, either as a side dish, mixed in a salad, or just popped in your mouth.

Squash 

Squash is a really versatile vegetable, and there are plenty of types to keep your recipes interesting. Squash is a staple of any midsummer market and roadside stand, but the first crops are coming in now. Both zucchini and yellow squash are types of summer squash, with thin skins that provide a lot of taste, texture, and fiber. Both yellow squash and zucchini are full of vitamins A, B6, and C, as well as minerals like magnesium, potassium, and phosphorous. Both types of squash can be eaten raw or cooked, and zucchini is great in baked goods, too.

Strawberries

While most fruits don’t come into season until late spring or summer, strawberries are ready nice and early, ready to liven up desserts, salads, or between-meal snacks. Strawberries are an excellent source of vitamin C, even edging out oranges in per-serving value. Plus, they’re full of manganese, potassium, and folate, as well as vitamins K, B6, and E, copper, iron, and magnesium. As a source of antioxidants, strawberries fight off free radicals, and they can also reduce LDL cholesterol in your blood. (LDL is the “bad” type of cholesterol.)

Spring is traditionally a time of renewal, and with so many fresh fruits and veggies coming to market, there's no better time to renew your commitment to a healthy diet and a healthier lifestyle. At Mountain Medical Arts, we can help you fine-tune your diet with nutrition services and healthy aging guidance customized just for you. To learn more about the nutrition and wellness services we offer, book an appointment online today.

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