5 Foods to Incorporate Into Your Diet This Spring -

5 Foods to Incorporate Into Your Diet This Spring

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By Bianca, @HolisticRX

After a very long and grey winter filled with snow days, gusty winds and freezing temperatures, spring is finally making it’s way to the Northeast and I could not be more excited! Warmer weather is an instant mood booster and an excuse to spend more time outdoors with friends and family! With wellness being such a hot topic and people doing anything and everything to feel and look their best, it’s only natural that we transition our diets to morph with the climate change.

Our produce has growing seasons and I believe we should adopt to nature’s cycle by incorporating different fruits and vegetables into our meals based on the changing seasons. Now that we are in a transitional phase where it is technically spring, but the cold has not officially left us, there are certain foods that are essential to keeping your immunity strong but also letting your body know that warm weather is on its way.

By incorporating the following five foods into your diet, your body’s immune system will be ready for the new season.

Artichokes

I look forward to this vegetable every spring for a number of reasons- and the main one being that it is one of the few vegetables characterized as a prebiotic food. What are prebiotics? Prebiotic fiber goes through the small intestine undigested and is then fermented when it reaches the large colon. This fermentation process feeds beneficial bacteria and helps to increase the number of good bacteria in our gut. So many of us are focused on consuming probiotics via supplement form that we forget the importance of prebiotics and simply consuming this delicious vegetable takes care of your digestive system organically.

Additionally, artichokes can help reduce inflammation in your body, detox the liver and can attribute to weight loss due to the high fiber content. They are also loaded with magnesium, a mineral vital for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body- including generating energy production, muscle contraction (something to pay attention to, active people), nutrient absorption, the metabolism and bone and cell formation and much more.

I love steaming artichokes and dressing them in olive oil and fresh garlic or adding them to soups and sautéed vegetable dishes!

Parsley

In my opinion, parsley is a very underrated green. Kale, spinach, arugula and various lettuces have stolen the spotlight when it comes to the salad game, but parsley is definitely a worthy addition. Not only does it add tons of flavor to dishes, but the fresh herb comes with detox and anti-inflammatory properties to say the least.

Parsley’s active ingredients include nutrients like vitamins A, C and K as well as phenolic compounds which plays an active role in cancer prevention, antioxidant flavonoids which acts as antimicrobials and anti-inflammatory compounds and contains essential oils like myristicin and apiol. To seal the deal, the herb is also a digestion soother as it helps to regulate bowel movements and decreases bloating.

I personally love adding parsley to fresh juices, as a garnish for almost any savory dish but most easily- a simple Mediterranean chopped salad. Just chop cucumber, cherry tomatoes, red onion, parsley and chickpeas and dress with fresh lemon, olive oil, salt and pepper.

Watercress

Meet kale’s cousin, watercress, another underrated green that is so versatile and part of the cruciferous vegetable family (hello fiber). Watercress is rich in immune-boosting antioxidants, vitamins C and A, and chlorophyll. It contains useful Omega 3’s (otherwise found is fish like salmon), reduces inflammation in tissue damage and swelling, supports healthy hair, skin and nails due to the high levels of phytonutrients and also strengthens bones and teeth.

Watercress also contains natural antibiotics that fight candida and other bad bacteria in the colon. One cup of watercress contains more than 100 percent of the daily recommended amount of vitamin K (essential for bone health).

The peppery, wild leafy green is often found in salads, sandwiches, soups and steamed as a side dish.

Bee Pollen

For many people, spring time is unfortunately associated with allergy season. Although pollen is one of the main trigger for allergies, bee pollen has been shown to naturally relieve them. Bee pollen contains almost all of the nutrients required by the human body to thrive and is rich in vitamins, minerals, proteins, lipids and fatty acids, enzymes, carotenoids and bioflavonoids.

Where do I even begin with what this means for the body? Bee pollen is antibacterial, antifungal and an antiviral agent that reduces inflammation, stimulates the immune system and lowers cholesterol levels. And for all of us wondering where to get more non-animal sources of protein- bee pollen contains more protein than any animal source and more amino acids than equal weight of eggs, chicken or beef.

I love to sprinkle a tablespoon of bee pollen on to my yogurt bowls (including Yasso dessert bowls) and smoothies for a little sweetness and crunch (not to mention tons of nutrients)!

*If you’re highly allergic to pollen, consult your doctor before consuming bee pollen.

Strawberries

We are all familiar with this berry, but did you know that it is actually a member of the rose family? In fact- it’s not even a berry! It is an aggregate accessory fruit, composed of several small fruits, each with one seed known as achene. It is the only fruit whose seeds are visible from outside and they flourish in the spring months.

Strawberries are packed with antioxidants, vitamins, fiber and are considered a low calorie food. They are packed with manganese and potassium and just one serving (about 8 strawberries) provide more vitamin C than a whole orange.

Another critical benefit is cardiovascular health- They contain ellagic acid and flavonoids which improve heart health through their antioxidant effects. They also counteract LDL (the bad cholesterol in our blood which causes plaque build-up in the arteries), lowering the risk of heart attack and disease.

As a Holistic Nutritionist, I typically recommend sticking to strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries when consuming fruit for their low sugar, high fiber benefits that attribute to weight loss and increase overall health and immunity.

The recipe ideas are endless! Blend them into smoothies, top your almond butter toast, eat them on their own or my personal favorite- chop them up and top your favorite Yasso flavor (mine is chocolate PB & yay)!

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