How Eating Seasonal Foods Can Benefit Your Health - By: Vanessa Edmonson
Just as the seasons change, our nutritional needs will change along with them. Did you ever stop to think why you want to eat more soups and chili in the winter and more salads and lighter refreshing foods in the summer? Probably not, you were simply listening to your body’s nutritional needs without even knowing it. Now, that’s not to say don’t eat salads in the winter. A salad is a wonderful way to incorporate fall vegetables and herbs. But when the temperature changes in our environment, it also changes in our body and our body tries to adapt, allowing it to do so on a nutritional level will diversify the nutrients we consume, creating an environment for better brain function, mood stability, a more supported gut microbiome (gut health), the ability to fight viruses and prevent micronutrient deficiencies.
With so much accessibility to various foods year-round in grocery stores, we often get stuck eating the same things out of convenience or preference. But when choosing local seasonal produce, we are not only adding a variety of readily available nutrients packed with vitamins and minerals but also adopting a more sustainable diet and having a positive impact on the environment. Seasonal produce from local farms is often less expensive than your grocery store produce due to eliminating the transportation needs and other costs associated with processing. As well as supporting your local economy, community, and farmers.
Seasonal produce has a considerably higher nutrient count and a higher flavor profile.
Vegetables such as carrots that are grown in the winter months are high in beta-carotene which converts to vitamin A and helps protect against cold and flu.
Does that mean we only have to eat seasonally? No. But starting to add different fruits and vegetables to your diet will not only help to develop your palate but strengthen your gut microbiome preparing you for the changes in the season. Fruits and vegetables that have been grown in diversified soil local to you will help aid in building healthy bacteria in your gut and assisting with disease prevention. Further supporting the need for year-round seasonal local produce.
With winter arriving, let's look at the seasonal produce locally grown here at Hopewell Farms and its benefits. Dark green Vegetables are packed with antioxidants that strengthen your immune system and contribute to healthy cell growth.
Kale contains vitamins A, K, B6, and C, calcium, potassium, copper, and manganese.
Collards- while collard greens contain the same as kale it also contains choline, a neurotransmitter that aids in boosting your mood and improving your sleep. Choline also contains folate which can help to combat depression. Ever heard of the winter blues? Carrots previously noted contain beta-carotene which converts to vitamin A helping to fight against winter viruses such as cold and flu. It also is high in vitamin C supporting the body’s ability to fight infection. Cabbage contains vitamins k, C, B6, magnesium, folate, calcium, potassium, and beta-carotene. Fermenting cabbages can help with building immunity, aiding in digestion, and supplying a healthy dose of probiotics.
Fennel contains vitamin C, K, B6, E, potassium, sodium, calcium, iron and magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, copper, selenium, niacin, folate, choline, beta-carotene. This is one of those highly medicinal vegetables that can be used in so many ways and helps with many different ailments. Lowering inflammation, bone health, blood pressure, heart health, detox, menopause, and digestion just to name a few!
Lettuces, not all are equal! The lettuces with the highest nutrient count are your romaine, red leaf, and green leaf variety. They have a wonderful source of vitamin C, folate, fiber, iron, and water. Your iceberg lettuce is unfortunately not as nutrient-dense.
Cilantro is another one of my favorites! This amazing herb is packed full of nutrients and can help aid in healing so many ailments. It contains vitamins, A, B1,2,3,6, C, E, and K, calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, and zinc!!!! Cilantro is known to target heavy metals in our system, digestive support, and immune support along with many other benefits. Superfood for sure!
Celery is high in antioxidants and a good source of fiber. It also contains a compound called apigenin which is anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antiviral. It also contains a flavonoid called luteolin which has been suggested to contain anticancer properties. It does also contain vitamins K, A, C, folate, and potassium.
What these superfoods all have in common is that they are seasonal and grow during the season that is favorable to colds and flu. They also just so happen to be loaded with nutrients that fight disease! Eating seasonal produce can take some time to adjust to, but by slowing trying new things and adding new flavors to your plate you will be on your way to a nutrient-dense way of living.