With winter rapidly approaching and the ever-present need to protect our immune system, why not add some wonderfully colourful and health-giving foods to your daily diet?
Eating seasonally means you are getting the best out of these foods and if you can buy locally, even better.
Clinical Nutritionist Suzie Sawyer shares her top five foods in-season right now and awaiting arrival onto your plate!
Now is the perfect time to be eating root vegetables and it’s no coincidence that many are in season during autumn and winter. At this time of year, we need to be grounded within ourselves to help protect the body from unwanted illness. Turnips fit the bill perfectly.
Turnips are part of the super-healthy cruciferous vegetable family, which includes Brussels sprouts and kale. They provide plenty of immune-boosting vitamin C as well as calming minerals including calcium. They’re also packed with fibre and contain a small amount of protein.
Turnips are not always top of the shopping list because people are unsure what to do with them. They have such a delicious naturally ‘rooty’ flavour, they need no more than to be peeled, cut, and placed in the oven to roast with a little olive oil and the tasty herb, thyme.
If you want to brighten up your plate whilst enriching your health, beetroots are the perfect answer. Often termed ‘super foods’ they really live up to their name. Their rich red/purple colour means they are packed with anthocyanins – plant compounds high in antioxidants which help protect us against disease. They are also rich in energising folate and heart-loving potassium, as well as being great for detoxifying the liver.
Whilst you might not want to eat them cold in a salad right now, why not cook them and serve them warm with sliced pears, goats’ cheese and toasted walnuts? They’re also delicious roasted in the oven and served with other root vegetables as a side.
A sometimes-forgotten meat, and not as readily available as other red meats, venison is lower in fat and slightly higher in protein. Because deer are predominantly ‘free-range’ their meat is intrinsically lower in fat, including cholesterol.
Essentially deer are only fed on grass, wildflowers, clover and legumes, all naturally rich in essential nutrients, making it a great food choice. This also makes the meat super-tasty and tender, therefore it only needs lightly cooking as a steak and can be served up with a choice of vegetable sides.
Whilst we often talk about oysters in February, specifically around Valentine’s Day, they are in season right now. It is their richness in the mineral zinc, essential for fertility and reproductive health, that has given them their claim to fame as an aphrodisiac. However, zinc is also essential for immune health.
Oysters are also rich in protein and low in fat, making them a great meal choice or decadent starter.
Their list of health benefits is nearly as long as the number of varieties of apples! Whatever the variety, they all contain some wonderful nutrients and provide benefits especially to the digestive tract. They help feed the good bacteria that naturally reside in the gut and which are essential to overall wellness.
Apples contain an abundance of polyphenols – plant compounds that provide so many health benefits, especially antioxidant protection. They have also been found to help reduce cholesterol levels, and this is mainly down to their high fibre pectin content. This fibre also helps to keep the bowels moving smoothly. And for those watching their waistline, apples have a stabilising effect on blood sugar levels, which is key in maintaining weight in the healthy region.
So, enjoy some variety and colour and look for foods in season right now for the greatest health benefits.
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