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Seasonal nutrition: what should we be eating right now?

With the current emphasis on staying healthy, travelling as little as possible and getting home deliveries for food, now is the best time to buy homegrown, local produce, says clinical nutritionist Suzie Sawyer.

With the focus on seasonal nutrition, here are her five favourite fruits and vegetables in season right now.

Strawberries

A punnet of strawberries

A favourite fruit for many, strawberries also deliver some wonderful health benefits. They contain some of the highest polyphenol content of all foods – a group of healthy plant compounds packed with antioxidants.

It’s down to their polyphenol content and antioxidant capabilities that strawberries are known to be ‘heart-friendly’.  Polyphenols protect the artery walls from oxidation and hardening.  They also encourage good blood flow which reduces pressure and are low on the glycaemic index, helping balance blood sugar and reducing the risk of Type 2 diabetes.

Strawberries are packed full of vitamin C and boast some of the highest levels found in all fruits and vegetables.  Clearly, they’re a treat with cream but enjoy them on cereal, with natural yoghurt, in a smoothie or just on their own, plain and simple.

Pea shoots

A bunch of pea shoots

Pea shoots are readily popping up in Farmer’s Markets and vegetable delivery boxes.  They are are also an allotment favourite and now is the time they’re at their very best.

Sprouted from dried peas, they are totally delicious added to salads or lightly wilted in stir-fries.  As with any green shoots, they are naturally rich in chlorophyll, often called the ‘food of life’.  Pea shoots are also mineral-rich, especially in energising iron, and are packed with many other immune-supportive vitamins.

Jersey Royals

A sack of jersey royal potatoes

As the name suggests, these delicious new potatoes are grown in some key sites across the beautiful island of Jersey.  They are packed within one hour of picking – another reason for their wonderful taste on reaching the plate.

Potatoes are rich in heart-loving potassium, which is concentrated in their skin; another good reason to eat them in their natural state. Vitamin-wise, they are packed with vitamin C and energising folate.

Many people worry about eating potatoes due to their carbohydrate content, but boiled potatoes have much less effect on blood sugar balance than those in their jackets.  Enjoy them at their best tossed in a little butter and fresh mint, sprinkled with black pepper.

Asparagus

Bunches of asparagus

Another British institution, English asparagus is a class apart from the asparagus available at any other time of year.  This is certainly noticed in its wonderful taste.

From a nutrient perspective, asparagus is great for feeding the good gut bacteria which in turn helps protect the immune system – especially important right now.  Plus, asparagus is rich in B-vitamins to boost energy levels, and vitamin K, essential for heart and bone health.

English asparagus only need boiling for three minutes, steaming for around five minutes or grilling for six to eight minutes. For the perfect vegetable side, sprinkle with black pepper and some Parmesan cheese.

Elderflower

Elderflower cordial and plant

Another British tradition, elderflowers come into their own during June.  As with so many plants and trees, their health benefits date back many thousands of years. Elderflowers have both anti-inflammatory and antiseptic effects, helping minimise many conditions including colds and arthritis.

Elderflowers can often be foraged and used to make an amazingly refreshing cordial.  There are also many recipes that benefit from the addition of elderflowers including jellies, jams, cupcakes, teacakes and gooseberry fool.  They are certainly worth hunting down both for their wonderful health benefits and gorgeous taste.

So, embrace in-season British produce this June and support your health and the local economy.

 

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