Healthful nutrients, essential vitamins and healing through food: Your guide to nutrition.
The Case for Fresh Produce
If given the choice, most people would choose the freshest ingredients over their processed or frozen counterparts. That’s why many families choose to join a CSA program – or Community Supported Agriculture – to get their produce. CSA members invest in local farms and in turn receive a weekly return of products. This virtually guarantees that you are receiving the freshest in-season produce from local sources.
Nature intends for us to eat fruits and vegetables when they are fully grown and ripe, giving us foods designed to support our seasonal health needs. Consuming these products while they’re in season gives your body the nutrients it needs most during each time of year. Fresh seasonal produce is always better for you since it is allowed to ripen naturally, rather than being picked early and sent to stores. Plants that have more exposure to the sun often contain higher levels of antioxidants.
But what food products are in season in which months of the year? And what are the nutritional benefits of eating fresh food? Lifespan Living breaks down foods in season from June-November and their health benefits.
With summertime in New England comes increased hours outdoors in the sunlight. While we all enjoy the nice weather, the heat can contribute to health problems such as dehydration, skin sensitivities and vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Summertime fruits and vegetables are packed with nutrients that replenish the body’s store after long hours in the sun. Check out the list below for seasonal selections and their health benefits:
- Tomatoes: Fresh-grown tomatoes are high in antioxidants that help prevent UV damage, as well as containing vitamin C.
- Watermelon: The high water content in watermelon keeps you hydrated and cool during the long summer days. It also contains lycopene, which protects skin cells from sun damage.
- Zucchini and yellow squash: These summer squash contain pectin, a fiber that is linked to increasing heart health and lowering cholesterol.
- Raspberries: A great source of fiber, raspberries pack about eight grams per cup. Raspberries are also very high in vitamin C.
- Spinach, kale and other dark leafy greens: Dark leafy greens contain carotenoids, which our bodies convert to vitamin A. They protect our skin from sun damage by decreasing skin sensitivity to UV rays and strengthening flaky and dry skin.
During the winter months, our bodies undergo changes that require different vitamins and minerals to counteract. Our energy levels and metabolism change, and we are typically at a greater risk for the common cold. Produce that thrives in cold temperatures are great sources of the vitamins our bodies need more of in the winter. Look for vegetables and fruits that are high in vitamin C or contain zinc to boost your immune system, and consider these options to add to your plate:
- Broccoli: Thriving in cooler weather, broccoli contains zinc, iron and vitamin C, helping you beat flu season and fight off other winter illnesses.
- Onions: Nutrients in onions lower LDL cholesterol levels and raise HDL cholesterol, and are high in fiber and vitamin C.
- Cabbage: Cabbage contains vitamin C and K, as well as folate, fiber and antioxidants.
- Beets, carrots and turnips: Root vegetables like these withstand colder temperatures when growing and are rich in Vitamin A, B and C, plus potassium and folate.
- Brussel sprouts: A favorite of the cold-weather, brussel sprouts are low in calories and contain protein and fiber that helps lower cholesterol. They also have vitamins A, C and B6, which supports immune health and fights off colds.
While the fundamentals of nutrition and health remain consistent throughout the year, it’s always helpful to adjust your diet seasonally to give your body the necessary vitamins when it may be running low. For an even deeper look into seasonal foods and their benefits, visit our other related blogs: 12 Foods of Summer for Your Skin, Top Winter Foods for Your Skin, and Five Ways to Make the Most of the Farmer’s Market.
Lifespan Blog Team
The Lifespan Blog Team is working to provide you with timely and pertinent information that will help keep you and your family happy and healthy.