Seasonal Spring Fruits and Veggies
One of the many joys of Spring and Summer is the opportunity we have to indulge in delicious fresh produce. Spring fruits and vegetables signal a time of renewal and cleansing. By focusing your diet around the choices below, bikini season may not be so painful after all. Check out your local farmer’s market to see what’s in season near you. Enjoy the goodness and freshness that is readily available this time of year.
Asparagus – folate, iron, vit C, high fiber (odd urine smell occurs when a sulfur compound in asparagus is converted during digestion into a closely related compound that has the same distinctive sulfurous odor – about 40% of the population has this gene)
Lettuce – Depending on the type of lettuce chosen, lettuce supplies good amounts of vitamin C and folate. Some supply beta carotene – a good rule of thumb is to select lettuce wit6h the darkest leaves – this is why iceberg is at the bottom of the list in terms of nutritional benefits.
Spinach – riboflavin, B6, folate, magnesium, beta carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin. Best to eat spinach cooked with a small amount of fat like olive oil to get the most out of the carotenoids. **Note – while spinach does provide iron and also calcium, these minerals cannot be completely used by the body because spinach also contains a compound called oxalic acid, which limits their absorption – this is also why too much raw spinach increases risk of kidney stones (oxalates).
Broccoli – Broccoli is truly one of nature’s superfoods. Broccoli is a rich source of cancer-fighting chemicals. Once you eat broccoli, glycosinolates break down into indoles and isothiocyantes.
An indole in broccoli called indole-3-carbinol appears to be beneficial in protecting against hormone-related cancers like breast and prostate by interfering with the replication of cancer cells.
Isothiocyantes, including sulforaphane inhibit the damaging effects of cancer-causing substances and suppress the development of tumors. Dithiolthione, another anticancer substance in broccoli, is believed to activate cancer-fighting enzymes in the body.
Beets – fiber, potassium, iron, and folate. Betacyanin is the pigment that makes beets their deep ruby color – A genetic predisposition causes some people not to properly metabolize beets, so the betacyanin passes into urine and feces which turn pink or red for a day or two.
Strawberries – Fiber, vitamin C
Kale –Like broccoli, contains sulforaphane and indole phytochemicals that may protect against breast cancer by making estrogen less potent. Rich in antioxidants, fiber, vit C, B6 and beta carotene (also lutein and zeaxanthin).
Lemons – vitamin C, fiber, phytochemicals in lemons & limes – in the peels are rich in limonene phytochemicals which seep into the juice and may confer anticancer benefits.
Oranges – vitamin C – w hole fruit adds more fiber!. Also, folate, potassium and some thiamin. Tangerines also contain teh carotenoids beta cryptoxanthin, lutein, zeaxanthin, and beta carotene.
Chard – beta carotene, potassium, vit C and magnesium. Also vitamin E – usually found in high fat foods. Also contains oxalic acid like spinach, so limit raw.
Celery – potassium, vitamin C, insoluble fiber
Cauliflower – Like broccoli cauliflower is a reservoir of phytochemicals like isothiocyanates and indoles – help detoxify cancer-causing agents and impede tumor development. Also excellent source of vit. C, folate and B6. This veggie is best raw or very lightly cooked – steaming is best or else much of the nutrients get leached out into the cooking water.
Carrots – Carotenoids (the name carotenoid comes from the fact that they were first identified in carrots). Also contain a soluble fiber called calcium pectate which studies suggest may help to lower LDL cholesterol.
Onions – fiber, vitamin c, B6, potassium and phytochemicals. Onions are a rich source of diallyl sulfide, which research suggests may raise levels of protective enzymes that help to inactivate and eliminate agents that can cause cancer.
Green Onions – same as onions
Medjool Dates – potassium, fiber (lots), and some iron
Cabbage – vit C, fiber, folate, also cancer-fighting phytochemicals like broccoli (glucosinolates – which are converted into indoles and isothiocyanates upon digestion)
Avocado – Note, avocado is a fruit – folate, fiber, potassium niacin and B6. Fat is mostly monounsaturated. May help to lower LDL cholesterol.