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Spring into the Season with 5 Superfoods!

3/16/2011 4:59:08 PM

Tags: natural health, heart health, superfoods, spring, vision, eyes, eyesight, cancer, lutein, folate, iron, vitamins, fiber, potassium, Parkinson’s disease, artichokes, asparagus, avocado, fava beans, spinach

As spring unfolds, it's time to rediscover the beauty of eating fresh, local food—and what better way is there to celebrate spring than by partaking of its bounty? This season brings with it an arsenal of superfoods—delicous, nutrient-packed fruits and vegetables that not only better our bodies but can often be found locally! Celebrate spring—and good health—by indulging in these 5 spring superfoods. 

Asparagus 

Nothing heralds spring like the harvest of fresh asparagus spears. Fresh asparagus is rich in vitamins K, C and A, as well as potassium, fiber and heart-healthy folate. Asparagus also has high concentrations of heart-healthy compounds such as B vitamins, folate and rutin, which strengthens capillary walls, and contains the highest amounts of cancer-fighting glutathione of any food.

Asparagus is delicious boiled, roasted, fried, baked or raw. Enjoy asparagus three ways this spring with these asparagus recipes.

asparagus bundles 
Asparagus contains more glutathione, a cancer-fighting compound, than any other food. Photo By Liz West/Courtesy Flickr.  

Artichokes 

They may look intimidating to eat, but once you’ve cracked the artichoke’s rough exterior, you’ll find a succulent treat brimming with healthy goodness. Fresh artichokes are packed with antioxidants—more so than any other fresh food, according to a study by the USDA. This spring vegetable is also a good source of potassium, vitamin C, folate, magnesium and fiber, and only contains 25 calories each.

(Keep your eyes open for the May/June 2011 issue of Natural Home & Garden for a delicious, easy way to enjoy an artichoke.)

Avocado 

This wonderful fruit provides numerous health benefits, from improving your eyes to boosting your nutrient intake. Packed with healthy monounsatured fat, potassium, lutein, folate and oleic acid, avocados offer special protection for your heart. A recent study found that eating avocadoes every day can reduce cholesterol by 17 percent. Avocadoes can also regulate blood pressure and prevent heart disease.

Discover five ways to incorporate avocadoes into your diet, from sandwich and salad suggestions to an authentic guacamole recipe. (Keep in mind that unless you live in a relatively warm climate, you will likely have difficult finding fresh, local avocadoes.)

clipped artichoke 
Dig into an artichoke to unlock a tasty source of antioxidants. Photo By joyosity/Courtesy Flickr. 

Fava Beans 

Although shelling fava beans can be labor intensive, they’re well worth the work. Sometimes called broad beans, this buttery spring bean is loaded with fiber and iron while containing very little fat and cholesterol. Fava beans are also a known source of L-dopa, a compound commonly used to treat Parkinon’s disease.

Spinach 

Spinach is a staple spring harvest—no spring salad is complete without it! Spinach provides an extremely concentrated supply of nutrients, containing high amounts of vitamins K, A and C, as well as plenty of manganese, folate, magnesium and iron. Eating spinach once a week can fight vision loss, build strong bones and protect against cancer. Add spinach leaves to your favorite salads!



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