Spring is wrapping up now, and while I’m looking forward to sharing some fine summer recipes with you all, I will miss the spring lineup. We’ve spent plenty of time talking about the histories, both public and personal, behind our favorite spring vegetables, but hey- what about the nutrition?
Here then is a rundown of the nutritional benefits behind some perennial spring faves from Ashley Koff Approved, reprinted with her permission. Ashley Koff RD is an award-winning dietitian and creator of the Better Nutrition, Simplified program. You can read the original post and many others, here.
Asparagus is one of the most versatile spring vegetables with a long list of health benefits. Asparagus contains the antioxidant glutathione (GSH), which can help reduce the risk of chronic diseases like Type 2 diabetes and heart disease. It also contains inulin, which is a carbohydrate that is not broken down by the human body. Inulin is considered a prebiotic, which becomes a food source for probiotics in the large intestine and supports digestive health. Asparagus is also a good source of Vitamins C, E, and K, folate, and zinc. Asparagus is great roasted, grilled, steamed, pureed into soups or baked into frittatas.
This crunchy spring root vegetable varies in flavor from sweet to peppery can be eaten raw, pickled, or cooked. Radishes are a good source of vitamin C, which help detoxify your body and support a healthy immune system. Radishes are also a good source of potassium, which has been to shown to relax blood vessels and helps to reduce blood pressure. Radishes are a great way to add crunch and texture to your food for very few calories (25 calories/cup, sliced).
SUGAR SNAP PEAS
Sugar snap peas are a cross between green peas and snow peas. Sugar snap peas are a great low-calorie snack option and are a good source of folic acid, which is required for DNA synthesis – and Vitamin K, which plays a key role in the blood clotting. We love snacking of sugar snap peas raw, with dips, and used in stir-fry recipes.
This hybrid vegetable of Chinese kale and broccoli is similar in flavor to asparagus. Like other members of the cruciferous vegetable family, broccolette is a good source of dietary fiber, which supports a healthy digestive system. It also contains glucosinolates, which are antioxidants that may have a role in reducing the risk of certain types of cancers. Broccolette can be enjoyed similar to broccoli – steamed or roasted as a side dish, tossed into your favorite pasta recipe, or even made into a pesto like this recipe courtesy of Earthbound Farm Organics.
Rhubarb is most popularly known for it’s role in baked goods like pies and often paired with sweeter fruits like strawberries to compliment its tartness. Though it is normally treated like a fruit, rhubarb is actually a vegetable. Rhubarb is high in fiber, and high in vitamin A, which is an important vitamin for eye health. Rhubarb when it is cooked is also one of the best plant sources of calcium. Rhubarb is a great addition to any baked pies or cakes or thickened to a sauce. Make sure to remove the leaves of the rhubarb plant, they contain a poisonous substance called oxalic acid.
“King of Fruits” – Mangos provide just 100 calories per cup and 100% of your daily value of vitamin C. Mangos are also high in vitamin B6, which is necessary in the production of the inhibitory transmitter in the brain, GABA. Mango can be added to sweet and savory dishes. We love adding mangos to our smoothies and making salsas with it to pair over fish. When choosing a ripe mango, the skin should be firm but give a little when pressed with your thumb.
There is nothing more refreshing than biting into a juicy piece of melon as the days become warmer. Honeydew is nature’s candy with many nutrient benefits. Honeydew is roughly 90% water, which makes it a filling snack at just 60 calories per cup. Paired with potassium, honeydew may have a role in regulating blood pressure levels. Like other melons, honeydew is also a good source of vitamin c, which helps produce collagen for healthier looking skin. Honeydew can be paired with protein-rich Greek yogurt or in a tomato salad with feta cheese.
These are just a few of our favorite flavors of spring. Take a stroll to your local farmers market and see what else spring has to offer. Eating seasonally and locally tastes better and is easier on the wallet, as farmers are usually willing to strike a deal – even on organic!