April Showers Bring May SuperfoodsPosted on May 18th 2011 2:00PM by Emma Gray
Pick up some fresh produce at your local grocery store or better yet, farmers market, and mix these seasonal goodies in with your year-round staples. We picked out a few foods that are must-tries for the month of May.
Although beets are available year-round, young beets are particularly fresh during the spring months. Varietals can be found in array of brilliant colors -- yellow and orange in addition to the traditional deep red. Besides being low-calorie and virtually fat-free, beets are incredibly nutrient-rich. They are a good source of Vitamin C, potassium (which has been shown to reduce blood pressure), manganese and folate, and the vegetable's rich color comes from beta-carotene, which is a major source of Vitamin A.
How to Buy and Eat
Registered dietitian and author of American Dietetic Association Complete Food and Nutrition Guide, Roberta Larson Duyff, counts baby beets as one of her favorite healthy choices for spring. She urges consumers to use the beet's greens and stalks, as well as the beet itself. Duyff recommends buying beets at a local market or Whole Foods and roasting them in the oven with a bit of olive oil, or including them raw in a salad.
"When you get beets, don't cut off the tops and throw away the greens," she says. "Slice them and toss them into your salad, or stir-fry them the way that you would spinach."
Another colorful superfood comes in the form of blueberries -- a sweet treat and a healthy one to boot. Although blueberries contain quite a bit of sugar, they are also a fantastic way to get your necessary dietary fiber, Vitamin C and Vitamin K. In the past 10 years, an array of research has been conducted on the blueberry, shedding light on its potential preventive qualities. A study published in 2007 looked into the phytochemicals that are present in blueberries and cranberries, concluding that "the evidence suggests a potential role for dietary cranberry and blueberry in the prevention of cancer and vascular diseases."
How to Buy and Eat
A bowl of fresh blueberries might be all you need. This superfood needs no added flavoring, as long as you buy a batch that are ripe and fresh. However, if you want to get creative in the kitchen, blueberries can be a fantastic addition to a light pasta salad or salsa, turning traditionally savory recipes on their heads. For dessert, tickle your tart taste buds with an easy-to-make blueberry sorbet.
Bob Stefko/Getty Images
More difficult to get your hands on than beets or berries, garlic scapes are worth going the extra mile for. Garlic scapes are the immature flowering stems of the garlic plant and are part of the same family as leeks, chives and onions. According to Duyff, this plant derives its "super" value from its phytonutrients.
"[Garlic scapes'] phytonutrients, which are compounds that have a health benefit that goes beyond basic nutrients, have potential heart health benefits ... and maintain the immune system," she says.
How to Buy and Eat
With their long, green stems, "garlic scapes look like overgrown scallions," says Duyff. Make sure that you eat the long leaves of the scape and not the bulb itself. Garlic scapes are most often used as side dishes, sautéed or grilled with some light flavoring and other vegetables. Duyff suggests taking advantage of their simplicity to complement a chicken or fish entrée.
The Bottom Line
Go forth, eat superfoods and prosper. But, remember that the best way to ensure that you get the greatest health benefits from these foods is to include them in a balanced diet. No one food is a shortcut to a healthy lifestyle.
Says Duyff, "It's really the whole diet that is super."