It is easy to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your diet when you choose ripe, seasonal produce. When it comes to flavor, freshness and nutritional value, locally grown, peak of the season produce is unsurpassed. The spring season produces a plethora of fruits and vegetables that are popular for their delicious flavors, versatility and exceptional health benefits. Here's a guide to a few of the favorites:
These beautiful, juicy orange gems are newly in season in May, and can be enjoyed throughout the weeks of late spring and summer. A relative of the peach, velvety apricots have a smooth, sweet texture and a slight tartness, and they are full of fiber, beta-carotene and vitamin C. Apricots are a tasty way to incorporate more fiber into your diet, which contributes greatly to digestive health. Enjoying apricots can also help protect your vision, as they contain vitamin A, a powerful antioxidant that can help protect against free radical damage to tissues and cells.
Spring greens and leafy lettuces are tender, colorful and packed with nutrients. A bed of lettuce topped or tossed with a flavorful and healthy assortment of fresh vegetables, lean proteins and a heart-healthy, olive oil based vinaigrette makes a perfect lunch or light supper during the spring season. One of the most popular lettuces is Romaine. Crispy and flavorful, this beautiful dark green lettuce contains vitamin A, vitamin K, folate, vitamin C, manganese, potassium and chromium. Extremely low in calories, its beta-carotene, fiber and vitamin C content make it a heart-healthy lettuce. Fiber assists the body in the breakdown of cholesterol, while the combination of vitamin C and beta-carotene helps prevent the oxidation of cholesterol.
Newly in season in April, the Hass avocado is prized for its silky, lush texture and mildly nutty flavor. It's a delicious indulgence that is healthy too, as about one ounce of an avocado has only 50 calories, and contributes nearly 20 beneficial vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients to the diet. The avocado is also one of the only fruits to contain heart healthy monounsaturated fat. Spread some creamy avocado onto a sandwich as a healthy substitute to mayonnaise, dice it into a green salad for added flavor and texture, or make some guacamole as a dip for freshly cut carrots, celery or tomatoes.
Exceptionally nutritious, and with a spring season that runs from March through May, spinach is one of the healthiest and most versatile spring vegetables. Delicious in salads, steamed with pressed garlic and fresh lemon juice for a flavorful side, or used in dishes ranging from omelets to fresh vegetable lasagnas, spinach is a spectacular vegetable to have on hand during the spring season. Researches have identified at least 13 different flavonoid compounds in spinach; compounds believed to function as antioxidants and anti-cancer agents. An excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin A, beta-carotene and folate, spinach is a heart-healthy green that is also believed to contribute to brain health, gastrointestinal health, and reduce symptoms caused by inflammation.
One of the most popular berries in the world, strawberries are an excellent source of vitamin C and manganese, and also contain dietary fiber, iodine, potassium, folate, riboflavin, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B6, vitamin K, magnesium and copper. Sweet, fragrant and juicy, strawberries are a true springtime treat that can help protect cell structures in the body, as well as help prevent vision loss and arthritis, and oxygen damage in the body's organs.