By Holistic Nutritionist, Mandy King (from Summer issue of LivePure Journal)
’Tis the season when fresh, colourful produce is abundant! It’s time to take advantage of the nutritional punch these locally grown, seasonal foods have to offer us.
Not only does buying local benefit the community, it helps the planet, with less transport and pollution. Better still, fresh food tends to be more nutritious because there is less time between picking and eating.
In fact, researchers at Montclair State University compared the Vitamin C in broccoli that was locally grown in season to broccoli that was imported out of season, and the out of season broccoli had only half the Vitamin C.
So there’s good reason to visit the summer farmers market in your community and to enjoy the nutritional abundance of summer fresh produce.
Here are five of my favourite produce items that have a serious nutritional impact.
Known to be excellent for your eyesight, carrots are really high in beta carotene, the precursor to Vitamin A. In fact, 1 cup of cooked carrots has 113% of your recommended daily intake of Vitamin A.
Carrots are rich in carotenoids, a type of antioxidant that may also help protect against certain cancers (prostate, breast, and colon).
My favourite way to have carrots is roasted with some cumin, honey, salt and pepper on them.
My general rule of thumb with produce is that the deeper the colour, the richer the nutrients, but cauliflower is the exception to this. One cup of cooked cauliflower has 73% of your daily recommended intake of Vitamin C and 3g of fibre. Fibre is an easy and often overlooked component to optimal gut health.
I love using cauliflower as a rice replacement in stir fries, or roasting it with turmeric and curry powder.
Kale is like a multivitamin in vegetable form. One cup of steamed kale has 1180% of your daily recommended intake of Vitamin K and 9% of your daily recommended intake of calcium.
Kale is rich in antioxidants, which helps fight oxidative damage (something aging is a result of) and can support your liver’s natural detoxification process.
To get rid of the bitter kale taste, make sure you massage your salad dressing into the kale leaves really well.
My personal favourite summertime food, raspberries are one of the highest fibre fruits out there. One cup of raspberries has 8g of fibre.
For those with blood sugar issues, raspberries are also a fruit lower on the glycemic index with about 5 to 6g of natural sugar per cup.
Raspberries are another produce item high in antioxidants, particularly quercetin, which helps fight inflammation.
I love raspberries on their own or mixed with some coconut yogurt.
Last, but certainly not least, is the colourful beet. One cup of cooked beets has 34% of your recommended daily intake of folate, a B vitamin.
Beets are high in nitrates, which have been shown to reduce blood pressure in high concentrations. These nitrates may also improve mental function through a dilation of blood vessels.
My favourite way to have beets is to boil or roast them and mix them with arugula, goat cheese, and balsamic vinegar in a salad.
Are you ready to visit your local farmers market? Freshness is waiting!
is a holistic nutritionist and the founder of HEAL - Healthy Eating And Living, a company providing corporate wellness programs and nutrition coaching. healthyeatingandliving.ca