Eating with the seasons means enjoying the freshest produce possible. This translates to more flavor and nutrient density (e.g. the most vitamins, minerals, disease-fighting antioxidants and other beneficial phytonutrients for the fewest calories). Because they’re more abundant, seasonal fruits and veggies are also a good value. Tastier and more affordable produce may lead you to eat more of them. (We hope!)
Incorporating an abundance of diverse fruits and vegetables into our diet is known to promote long-term health. One study followed over 300,000 participants for an average of 8.5 years, measuring their fruit and vegetable consumption, while monitoring health parameters. The results were quite impressive: participants who consumed eight or more servings of fruits and vegetables every day were 22 percent less likely to die of heart disease than those who ate three or fewer servings.
Fresh – Eating in-season means less time has passed since the veggie or fruit was harvested. It will taste better and the nutritional content is more likely to be preserved. Vitamin and mineral deficiencies (such as vitamin D, vitamin B12, magnesium and iron) are common, and having sufficient levels of essential nutrients helps meet ALL of your body’s needs.
Affordable – Whatever is in season will be more plentiful, keeping prices low. Eating in season also saves a tremendous amount of energy and resources–so it’s good for you AND the planet. Just consider how much time, cost and labor goes into shipping fresh kiwis from New Zealand during the winter.
Supports local farmers – Besides supporting your local economy, shopping at your local farmer’s market gives you the opportunity to get to know the farmers and ask questions about how they grow their crops (i.e organic, biodynamic, etc.). Eating seasonally often results in cleaner produce, as more pesticides and other chemicals are needed to produce and maintain foods outside of their natural growing period.
What’s in season and locally harvested will vary by region, so be sure to do your own research. (Check out this seasonal food guide by state.) Remember, if you do buy produce out of season, frozen is always a good bet since fruits and vegetables are frozen when harvested. Better yet, Coach Miriam suggests stocking up on seasonally fresh produce and freezing it yourself!
Here are some good options (courtesy of Coach Eden) that are available in most places, by season:
Swiss chard – A superb choice of leafy green, Swiss chard provides vitamins A, C, and K and magnesium, to keep your eyes, cells and bones happy and healthy.
Asparagus – Another nutritional powerhouse, eating asparagus is a great way to get your B-vitamins, and is also an excellent source of vitamins K and A.
Kiwi – Delicious and nutritious, kiwis help supply your body with vitamin C, calcium and magnesium.
Limes – One of the lowest-sugar fruits, limes help you get your vitamin C, potassium and calcium. Try adding a squeeze of fresh lime to your water.
Green beans – These beauties are chock-full of vitamins A, C, K and folate, plus calcium, magnesium and manganese.
Blackberries – Berries are a low-sugar, high-fiber fruit packed with antioxidants, which help support cellular health and combat inflammation. (Certain fruits, such as berries should be avoided if you have medical conditions such as kidney disease or diverticulitis.)
Watermelon – As its name suggests, this summertime fruit is extremely hydrating due to its high water content (90%). It delivers vitamins A, C, and B, and its red hue provides lycopene, an antioxidant renowned for its heart health benefits.
Arugula – This spicy green is a good source of calcium, potassium and vitamins C, K and A. It also contains the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, which support eye health.
Brussels sprouts – These high-fiber guys are a great way to get your vitamin C and A, and contain several antioxidants that help support the immune system.
Collard greens – One the most nutritious veggies, they boast high levels of vitamins K, A and C, as well as manganese, calcium and magnesium. They help reduce inflammation, support healthy cholesterol levels and are a plant-based source of the omega-3 fatty acid ALA (alpha-linolenic acid). Try using these sturdy leaves for your sandwich wraps.
Cauliflower – Cauliflower rice and cauliflower pizza crust make for great low-carb comfort foods. Look for purple varieties since they’re higher in antioxidants. (The deeper the color of your veggies, the more antioxidant power you get.)
Apples – Apples are a delicious, high-fiber fruit, that may help support healthy cholesterol levels. A study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that eating blueberries and apples reduced the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. This may be because these two fruits are rich in flavonoids called anthocyanin, which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Onions – These make for a good source of calcium, folate, and magnesium. They’re also a good topping for your cauliflower crust pizza 😊. The antioxidants in onions have been linked to healthy cardiovascular and immune system function, as well as healthy blood sugar levels.
Celery – A cup of chopped celery has only about 16 calories, making it one of the most calorie-friendly foods around. In exchange, you get vitamin K, calcium and magnesium, as well as cardiovascular and digestive health support. Try spreading celery sticks with your favorite nut butter for a nutritious snack.
Beets – A great source of folate and manganese, if you opt for the purple ones, you get high levels of antioxidants that may help support eye, digestive and immune system health – as well as a generous dose of fiber.
Carrots – A terrific source of vitamin A and antioxidants, such as lutein and beta-carotene, they’re also high in B-vitamins. If you can find them in your area, try the rainbow variety for an even wider array of nutrients.
Tip: Coach Susan notes that juice has a lot of concentrated sugar and can cause blood sugar spikes. “Eating the whole fruit or veggie, rather than drinking it, will generally give you more fiber, which prevents sugar spikes and keeps you feeling full longer,” she says. Pairing fruit with whole grains or protein can also help keep your sugar levels steady. In general, the riper the fruit, the more concentrated sugars they contain. You may have noticed the sweetness when eating an overly ripe banana, for example.
Experiment and share your favorite seasonal recipes with us on social media!