Spring Clean Your Diet

Spring has sprung here in Canada and that means more than just finally being able to enjoy the warmer weather.  Spring offers us such a variety of crisp, refreshing new produce with so many health benefits. Eating fruits and veggies during their peak season ensures complete nutrient intake, flavour and freshness. 

Here’s a list of just some of the delicious and nutritious foods you can find right now in your local farmers’ market, grocery store or in your very own garden:

Seeing these interesting vegetables at your local grocery store is a sure sign spring has sprung. As their name suggests, their coil really does look like the end of fiddle.  Derived from the ostrich fern, fiddleheads grow abundantly across Canada, especially in the east coast, and are harvested for only a short period of time during the spring until the moment their coils unfurl.

Fiddleheads are extremely nutrient-dense and offer a plethora of health benefits. Unlike many vegetables, they are actually a great vegetarian source of omega-3 fatty acids.  They are also a source of fibre and contain many anti-inflammatory compounds.  But, that’s not all--studies show that their antioxidant content is actually twice that of blueberries!

Asparagus is one of the few vegetables that really kick off the spring season, and they are packed with nutritional benefits.  This alkaline vegetable is a good source of fibre, folate, antioxidants from vitamins A, C and E, and the bone-building vitamin K. Shown to stabilize blood sugar due to its high vitamin B content, it also contains asparagines, an amino acid which acts as a natural diuretic, which may help reduce blood pressure. Asparagus is so versatile and can be prepared in a variety of different ways. Enjoy it warm or cold, steamed or baked, on the BBQ or even with a variety of different veggies.

You’ve probably heard of rhubarb because it is often added to pies and crumbles. It is in its peak season during April so you won’t have any issues finding it in stores. Rhubarb is high in lycopene, an antioxidant responsible for the bright red stalks (the same antioxidant found in tomatoes). Rhubarb also contains vitamin K, which as mentioned above, plays a key role in bone strength and in heart health. Due to its very high fibre content found in the stalks, it’s an important vegetable for digestive health.

Although you may recognize arugula for its bitter taste, remember that the smaller the leaves, the sweeter they are, so spring is the perfect time to enjoy it. Arugula, also known as “salad rocket”, can take your salad from healthy to super healthy due to its superior nutritional content. High in antioxidants, especially the collagen-boosting vitamin C, it also contains high amounts of vitamin K and B-complex vitamins and iron. Its bitter taste and high fibre content make arugula very detoxifying, both for the liver and for the digestive system. With over 90% water content and a very low calorie content, this leafy green is a definite must-eat for the spring and summer months.

Fresh farm eggs are free-range and pasture-raised, which means the hens roam outdoors, away from artificial light, and obtain their diet through natural sources such as grass. Farmers’ eggs are shown to contain many more nutritional benefits than conventional eggs. They contain higher amounts of vitamin A, vitamin E, B vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids and even vitamin D because the hens have the chance to travel outdoors. They contain lower amounts of saturated fat.  While we all know that eggs are a complete protein, don’t be afraid of eating the yolk.  Recent studies show that contrary to previous beliefs, eggs do not raise cholesterol in many people, even though they are a source of dietary cholesterol. The egg yolks also contain powerful carotenoids such as lutein and zeanthin, which are crucial for eye health.