Eating seasonally offers many benefits, mainly because produce is tastier when eaten at the time nature intended. Indeed, British strawberries have been particularly delicious this year.
So, what’s in season right now which will also deliver some amazing nutritional benefits?
Clinical nutritionist, Suzie Sawyer, shares her five top seasonal foods to enjoy now.
A perennial favourite for any keen gardener, the best time to eat runner beans is freshly picked otherwise they can become tough and chewy. And whilst they might seem like a British traditional late summer vegetable, runner beans are actually native to Mexico and Central America.
As with all beans, runners’ deliver some good quality protein and dietary fibre, plus useful amounts of magnesium and copper (great for the muscles and joints), and energising iron. Unlike many vegetables, they are not especially rich in vitamin C but do provide plenty of other powerful antioxidants including various carotenoids.
From an enjoyment perspective, there’s simply nothing better than pairing runner beans with some delicious roast lamb (also on good form right now).
Also called eggplant, they are loaded with vitamins, minerals and polyphenols which are powerful antioxidants, helping scavenge free radicals. Interestingly, latest research has focussed on a particular antioxidant found in aubergines called nasunin, which is found to be especially protective of the brain. Aubergines provide good sources of vitamin B6, useful for hormone-balancing and vitamin K, great for heart health.
In terms of preparation, aubergines can generally be eaten with the skin-on so are super-easy to roast, along with red peppers and onions. They can be made into the ever popular babaganoush with garlic, lemon and tahini or used in many traditional Mediterranean dishes, including ratatouille.
Watercress was a favourite of the famous Greek doctor, Hippocrates, due to its high mineral content; it has more calcium per 100 grams than a glass of milk (although you’d need to eat a fair amount!)
Just like spinach with its powerful green leaves, watercress delivers plenty of health-giving chlorophyll (otherwise known as the green food of life), plus immune-boosting vitamin C and the mineral manganese for a healthy nervous system.
Watercress adds a delicious peppery taste to salads, helps balance the richness of a steak or makes a delicious soup. Enjoy!
Truly a vegetable where you get plenty of ‘bang for your buck’, beetroot is low in fat but high in wonderful nutrients. Interestingly, whilst the edible leafy tops were used medicinally in ancient times, it’s generally the red root that’s eaten. And unlike many other vegetables, freshly boiled beetroot has higher levels of most nutrients than raw, including heart loving potassium.
However, fresh raw beetroot juice does provide a great source of vitamins and minerals and is often used as a tonic. It’s also useful for athletes and has been found to help aerobic performance.
At this time of year, when they’re freshly harvested, there’s no better way than eating beetroot grated in salads with some feta cheese to compliment the flavours.
Second only to blackberries in terms of their health benefits, raspberries provide very high levels of vitamin C. Raspberries became super-famous when it was discovered they could possibly help with weight management, hence raspberry ketones were developed. It was found that they helped stop the production of our fat-digesting enzyme, lipase, hence less fat was digested and absorbed. Raspberries certainly help balance blood sugar levels which will also help with weight management.
Why not get your day off to a flying start by adding some to your low-sugar morning muesli with some natural yoghurt? Raspberries are also great on their own as a dessert with some freshly chopped mint.
So, make the most of the this seasonal and nutritious produce whilst you can!
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