The Top 10 Spring Foods

Who doesn’t love spring? The longer, hotter days bring with them a cascade of vibrant superfoods.  While there are many great possible spring superfoods, here are my picks for the top 10.  Enjoy!

Artichokes—A medium-sized artichoke is loaded with fiber (about 10 grams) and vitamin C. It also contains plentiful amounts of the heart- and muscle-health minerals magnesium and potassium.  It’s also high on the ORAC list of foods that have high antioxidant values.  High amounts of antioxidants translate into reduced free radicals linked to aging and disease.

Asparagus—An excellent source of nutrients like vitamin K which is necessary for bone health and folate, asparagus also contains good amounts of vitamins C, A, B1, B2, niacin, B6, manganese, potassium, magnesium, and selenium.  Its high folate content makes it especially good for pregnant women who have higher folate needs than most people.

Chives—Potent in antibacterial, anti-yeast and antifungal compounds, chives has many similar properties to its relatives garlic and onion.  Chives also help boost glutathione levels in the body.  Glutathione is a powerful detoxifier and anti-cancer compound.

Collards—Research shows that collards are among the best foods for lowering cholesterol levels due to its superior ability to bind to bile acids in the intestines.  Collard also shows excellent anti-cancer properties thanks to its naturally-occurring components, including: glucoraphanin, sinigrin, gluconasturtiian, and glucotropaeolin.

Kale—Proven to lower the risk of bladder, breast, colon, ovary, and prostate cancer, kale is among the best superfoods available.  Great for building healthy bones largely due to its high calcium content, kale also improves the body’s detoxification systems by increasing isothiocyanates (ITCs) made from the vegetable’s glucosinolates.  Researchers have identified over 45 phytonutrients in kale, including kaempferol and quercetin, giving it impressive antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Rhubarb—High in fiber, vitamins C and K, rhubarb stalks (not the leaves which are poisonous), rhubarb is an excellent spring food but most people don’t know what to do with it.  Sorry, dumping cups of sugar into it for jams and pies wrecks any superfood qualities this food might otherwise have.  I enjoy it stewed or added to chutneys.

Spinach—Not just for Popeye anymore, spinach is high in iron, calcium, beta carotene (which turns into vitamin A in your body), and vitamin K, which is important for bone and blood health.  The chlorophyll gives spinach their green color and is a powerful blood cleanser.  High in neoxanthin, which is proven to aid prostate health, spinach also contains the phytonutrients lutein and zeaxanthin which strengthen the eyes and help prevent macular degeneration and cataracts.

Spring greens—Spring greens contain high amounts of calcium and magnesium needed for strong bones, muscles, and a relaxed nervous system.  Like spinach, they also contain the blood cleansing phytonutrient chlorophyll.

Strawberries—Just eight strawberries pack more vitamin C than one orange.  Whether you want to evade heart disease, arthritis, memory loss, or cancer, these berries have proven their ability to help.

Watercress—If ever there was a vegetable made for smokers, watercress is it.  In a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers found that eating raw watercress daily increased the ability of cells to resist free radical damage to DNA, which reduces the risk of cell changes linked to cancer.  Their research showed that this protective benefit was pronounced in smokers.  But, anyone can benefit from this spring nutritional powerhouse.  It is also high in beta carotene (essential for skin and eye health), B-complex vitamins (important for nerves, energy, and mood balance), and vitamin E (critical for skin and immune system health).

Dr. Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, DNMis an international best-selling and 20-time published book author whose works include the vegan cookbook:  The Cultured Cook: Delicious Fermented Foods with Probiotics to Knock Out Inflammation, Boost Gut Health, Lose Weight & Extend Your Life.

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