As we move towards spring, we shift away from heavy foods and the sedentary lifestyle. 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.
The redder your rhubarb the greater the anthocyanin content and uptake!
This leafy green not only has a delicious peppery flavour, but is also an extremely rich source of vitamin K. In fact, just 34g contains over 100% of our daily requirements. Vitamin K is an essential nutrient required for blood clotting and healthy bones. Since it is a fat-soluble vitamin, adding fat such as avocado or olive oil to watercress can help to increase its absorption.
3. 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.
4. Spring Greens
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.
This shellfish is not only low in calories and fat, but is also a rich source of iron. In fact just 100g of clams provides as much as 8mg iron – the current UK guidelines are set at 8.7 mg/day for men and 14.8 mg/day for premenopausal women. Iron is critical for haemoglobin production which transports oxygen in the blood to organs. A deficiency in iron can disrupt this process and lead to fatigue.
Vitamin C can increase the absorption of iron from the gut, therefore including some vitamin C rich fruit and vegetables alongside clams can maximise absorption
6. Blood Oranges
Aside from vitamin C, blood oranges are a source of potassium. This mineral can help to lower blood pressure and has beneficial effects on cardiovascular health.
Enjoying blood oranges as a tasty snack. 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.
About Lily Soutter BSc MSc ANutr
Lily is a London nutritionist who graduated from Newcastle University with a BSc (Hons) degree in Food and Human Nutrition (AfN accredited) where she was awarded the Sage Faculty for Excellence Scholarship on an annual basis. She then graduated with distinction with an MSc in Nutritional Medicine (AfN accredited) at the University of Surrey. She has also completed a 2-year post-graduate Diploma in Nutritional Therapy and is registered with the Association for Nutrition. Lily’s extensive knowledge of the science of food and health, enables her to regularly write for The Times, The Telegraph, The Daily Mail, The Independent, Women’s Health and Cosmopolitan.
Her frequent TV appearances include ITV’s This Morning with Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield, ITV’s primetime series Save Money: Lose Weight with Dr Ranj Singh, ITV News, NBC News and Channel 5’s Secrets Of Your Supermarket Food. Lily’s passion is to simplify the science around nutrition, to provide health hacks and smarter eating strategies that empower people to enjoy a healthy and successful lifestyle. Her specialities lie in workplace wellness, designing and implementing nutrition-focused corporate wellbeing programs in London and beyond.