Working with the seasons and eating foods at their best during the seasonal food year brings many health benefits.
Nature is very clever and provides foods the body needs for optimal nourishment at the right time throughout the year.
Clinical nutritionist Suzie Sawyer shares her five favourite fruits and vegetables for February.
It’s all about roots during the winter months, keeping the body warm and grounded. Leeks are from the same family as onions and they thrive during colder times because of their ability to withstand frost. Nutritionally, leeks are high in potassium so are very supportive of kidney function, can work as a diuretic and also support a healthy heart.
Their taste is slightly more subtle than onions so they can be used in stews, soups or work well with a cheese sauce. Unfortunately, as with onions and garlic, they do tend to cause some flatulence which is mainly down to their ability to feed the good gut bacteria. It’s a positive sign and this is great for helping improve the overall balance of friendly flora.
Whilst not eaten that widely, partly because it’s naturally so sour, rhubarb needs quite a lot of sugar to improve its flavour. However, making classic rhubarb fool is certainly a great treat for special occasions, whilst delivering a very useful nutrient profile. However, rhubarb also works brilliantly as a sauce with savoury dishes such as duck. It’s high in immune-boosting vitamin C and is a great source of fibre and potassium. To that end, it’s been linked to helping improve cholesterol levels.
Rhubarb is actually a vegetable and not a fruit, despite looking like one, and makes a lovely change to eating some of our better-known fruits and vegetables.
Purple Sprouting Broccoli
Broccoli is well-known for its amazing health benefits. Purple sprouting has even more, down to its rich colour. This means it contains greater levels of antioxidant anthocyanins, plus some of our key immune-boosters, vitamin C and beta-carotene.
All types of broccoli contain a compound called sulphoraphane which has been found to help protect us from many degenerative diseases. Additionally, they provide a great source of relaxing magnesium and bone-loving calcium. Try and eat some at least three times per week whilst it’s in season, for all its great health benefits.
Whilst our climate is clearly not conducive to growing tropical fruits, other countries certainly are. Oranges from Spain are at their best right now and taste better than those imported from further afield. Whilst oranges don’t contain quite as much vitamin C as berry fruits, they still provide a very usable amount. Plus, if you’re low in iron, then eating iron-rich foods such as meat or green-leafy veg and eggs, with an orange or a little orange juice, helps iron absorption considerably.
As with all fruits and vegetables, oranges provide antioxidants which help protect us from disease and the ageing process. Oranges are great with fish dishes but are great partnered with dark chocolate in a dessert.
The rise in the popularity of low-carb diets has left potatoes somewhat in the shade. However, they don’t really deserve some of the bad press they receive: much of the issue around potatoes and potential weight gain is down to cooking methods. Clearly roasted, creamed and chipped potatoes contain more fat, and therefore more calories. However, who doesn’t love roast potatoes or some deliciously, creamy mash!
Potatoes actually provide a good level of vitamin C and heart-loving potassium. Additionally, they are high in fibre so help keep the digestive system running smoothly. As a vegetable side, they are delicious in recipes containing garlic or cheese; just be aware of portion sizes and then you don’t need to miss out totally.
So, enjoy the wonderful health benefits of eating seasonally.
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