As we are moving towards spring, we can now get rid of heavy foods and the sedentary lifestyle - no thanks to winter! Spring is all about the fresh, light and nutrient dense foods and drinks, which taste even better when they are in season. To help you put a spring in your step, here are the most colourful seasonal foods you should be eating:
Rhubarb is a rich source of antioxidants called anthocyanins, which provide it’s bright red colour. Anthocyanins are thought to play a role with cardiovascular health by improving our cholesterol profile and reducing certain biomarkers associated with heart disease. Here's a rule of thumb: the redder your rhubarb the greater the anthocyanin content and uptake!
This leafy green vegetable does not only have a delicious peppery flavour, but it is also an extremely rich source of vitamin K. In fact, just 34g of watercress contains over 100% of our daily requirements. Vitamin K is an essential nutrient required for blood clotting and healthy bones. And since it is a fat-soluble vitamin, adding healthy fats such as avocado or olive oil to watercress can help to increase its absorption.
Purple sprouting broccoli
Many think that oranges are a top source of vitamin C, but did you know that purple sprouting broccoli comes with more! Vitamin C is a critical nutrient for immunity, energy production and even healthy skin. Since this water soluble nutrient isn’t stored within the body it needs to be topped up on a daily basis. Vitamin C is a delicate nutrient and can easily be destroyed with heat, therefore aim to only lightly steam your purple sprouting broccoli to get maximum benefits.
Spring greens, like cabbage belong to the brassica family. This dark green leafy vegetable is a source of folate. This B vitamin is promotes healthy cell division which is required during pregnancy to reduce the risk of birth defects. Folate also is needed to convert the food we eat into energy. To maximise the folate you receive from spring greens, either eat raw in a refreshing spring salad or only lightly steam.
Aside from vitamin C, blood oranges are a great source of potassium. This mineral can help to lower blood pressure and has beneficial effects on cardiovascular health. Instead of cooking with blood oranges, enjoy it as a snack! This is because whilst the potassium levels are unaffected by heat and oxygen, this mineral can leach out into water, therefore it’s best to avoid preparation methods in which oranges are exposed to water for a prolonged period of time.
By London Nutritionist Lily Soutter BSc (hons) Food & Human Nutrition, Dip NT