Now that spring is here and the weather’s warming up, we’re excited about all the delicious, nutritious produce that’s now in season! Here are some of our favorite spring fruits and vegetables, as well as all the reasons why they’re so good for you.
Asparagus is a versatile vegetable that’s low in calories and high in nutrients. Half a cup of asparagus contains just 20 calories, as well as lots of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, folate, potassium and Vitamin K. Asparagus also contains high levels of antioxidants and flavonoids, which lower your risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure. In fact, in a research study, rats that were fed asparagus for ten weeks had a 17% lower risk of high blood pressure than the rats that ate a diet without asparagus. Researchers are still investigating whether asparagus has the same effects on humans, but so far the data is hopeful!
Strawberries have myriad positive health benefits. They are one of the lowest glycemic index fruits, because they are relatively low in sugar and high in fiber. Strawberries contain only 53 calories per cup! They also provide fiber, magnesium, potassium, folate and Vitamin A. In addition, strawberries are a good source of flavonoids, which decrease the risk of heart attacks and strokes. In research studies, people who ate at least three servings of strawberries a week had the healthiest outcomes.
There’s a lot to love about this springtime legume! Peas are rich in Vitamin A, Vitamin K, folate and thiamine (also called Vitamin B1), which supports your metabolism, as well as keeping your heart, nervous system, digestive system and muscles healthy. Half a cup of peas contains 62 calories and provides lots of fiber, as well as 4 grams of protein per serving.
Oranges are usually available in grocery stores year-round because during the cold months in the U.S., grocers import citrus fruit from Mexico and other warmer climates. But once spring arrives in the U.S., locally-grown oranges come into season. One medium orange contains 80 calories, and a whopping 130% of your recommended daily Vitamin C intake! Oranges are also valuable sources of fiber, potassium and choline, a nutrient that improves memory, mood and muscle function.
Beets are one of our favorite, nutrient-packed spring vegetables. One cup of sliced beets contains only 59 calories, and high amounts of fiber, potassium and folate. Another benefit of beets is that they contain nitrates, which the body metabolizes into nitric oxide, a molecule that relaxes blood vessel walls and lowers your blood pressure. Within just a few hours of consuming beets, your blood pressure can drop between 4-10 points!
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Written by Sarah Thebarge, Physician Assistant