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7 Superfoods to Help You Feel Like Spring is Here

Snow and cold winds have still been blowing on the east  coast. Wintry weather regardless, it feels like it is time to start  working in the garden and to think ahead to a crisp salad.

March was the first month among the ancient Romans and appropriately so, as  it is the time of year when the world seems to be “waking up” after winter. In  honor of a time of new growth and new beginnings, here are seven spring  superfoods that can help you celebrate with a good blast of nutrients on your  plate.

1) Artichokes

I’ve always thought of artichokes as signs of spring. Growing up in northern  California, we’d eat them as the season started. My favorite part was the  artichoke heart, which you only discovered after working your way through the  leaves and past the prickles.

There are real benefits to eating them as artichokes contain some unusual compounds including cynarin, which stimulates  the taste bud receptors; inulin, a prebiotic that promotes the growth of  good-for-the-gut bacteria and antioxidants (more than any other fresh food, says  the USDA), plus fiber, vitamin C and more.

2) Asparagus

For all that you can get asparagus year-round, the green stalks (endowed with vitamins A and K, B vitamins, protein and  folate) are the greenest, tenderest and tastiest now. Asparagus is high in  fiber and can help to cleanse your system (it’s been suggested as a hangover  remedy).

Asparagus is actually from the lily family and has more uses than adding  color and nutrients to your meals. African species of asparagus are grown  as ornamental plants. Asparagus is also cultivated in underground in parts  of France to prevent the development of chlorophyll.

3) Lettuce and Leafy Greens

Another green vegetable that you can get year-round (grown in California) but  that’s best in spring is lettuce. Get yours grown locally and organically  and you’ll know it may not have any pesticides or chemicals, such as  perchlorate, which is found in rocket fuel. In previous years, perchlorate was discovered in the Colorado River, which provides water for California’s  crops.

The dark green varieties of lettuce (such as romaine) as well as other dark  leafy greens, like collard greens and kale, are rich in B vitamins. Arugula is a  sort of “multivitamin” all on its own as it  contains beta-carotene, vitamin C, folate, vitamin K, magnesium, fiber and calcium.

4) Scallions

A mainstay of the simple Cantonese stir-fries I sometimes make , scallions or green  onions are rich in the antioxidant quercetin, which helps to lower  blood pressure and can help allergy sufferers as they act like a histamine.   Scallions also contain vitamins A, C and K, as well as B-complex vitamins.  But take note: if you use them raw as garnish or in a salad, make sure you wash them carefully to remove any dirt — less-than-clean scallions have been linked to outbreaks of hepatitis A.

5) Spinach

This leafy green has been called the “first superfood.” It gives you a full share of vitamin C,  folate, lutein, omega 3 fatty acids and zeaxanthin, a phytochemical that can help age-related  macular degeneration. Even more (no wonder it was the food that gave superhuman  strength to Popeye), spinach contains anti-inflammatory and  anti-cancer agents and can help to strengthen your bones.

Forget about those bricks of frozen spinach in the freezer case. Spring is  the optimum time to eat spinach as, says OrganicGardening.com, warm days and “cold, nearly frosty  nights” draw out its natural sugars best.

6) Rhubarb

Rhubarb is a vegetable that is usually treated as a fruit; it belongs to the  same family as sorrel and buckwheat. Sour, fibrous and containing few calories,  the stems (the only edible part of the plant — the leaves are toxic) must be  cooked to be eaten in pies, jam and chutneys. It is used as a diuretic and laxative and also contains potassium  and vitamin C. One study suggests that chemicals extracted from rhubarb  called polyphenols could point the way to new drug treatments for leukemia and  other cancers.

7) Radishes

Another bright red spring superfood, radishes, can provide you with a good  wallop of your daily vitamin C requirement; you’ll get even more if you eat the  leaves. As radishes have a high water and fiber content, they can add bulk and crunch  to your meals with fewer calories. Even more beneficial is combining radishes with broccoli as their cancer-fighting  compounds are enhanced by myrosinase, an enzyme in radishes.

Wishing you a very nutritious, and colorful, start to the spring!

By Kristina Chew

Photo from Thinkstock

(Leesa recommends choosing Organic Produce!)

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Healthy Lifestyle Coach, Artisan, Author

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