Bright green asparagus is a delicious reminder that spring has arrived!
Did you know the best months to buy this vegetable are March, April and May.
Not only does asparagus make a tasty side dish, it has a multitude of health benefits.
Asparagus is packed with nutrients
It’s a great source of fiber, folate and vitamins A, C, E and K. It’s also a good source of chromium, a trace mineral that helps prevent diabetes.
Asparagus helps your body fight cancer
This vegetable is an excellent source of glutathione, which is a compound that helps your body detoxify and break down carcinogens and other cancer-causing free radicals.
Asparagus promotes cognitive function
This is due to the folate that is found in asparagus. Folate works with vitamin B12 to help prevent cognitive decline. Vitamin B12 is found in fish, poultry, meat and dairy. This means having a side of asparagus with your favorite seafood is excellent brain food! In a study from Tufts University, older adults with healthy levels of folate and vitamin B12 performed better on a test of response speed and mental flexibility.
Asparagus is a natural diuretic
Its high levels of Asparagine, an amino acid that serves as a natural diuretic, cause this. Why is this important? Increased urination releases fluid and excess salts from your body, which alleviates bloating and discomfort. This is good news for people who have high blood pressure and other heart-related diseases.
The best ways to cook asparagus to preserve its nutritional content and antioxidant power are roasting, grilling and stir-frying. These are good methods because they take a short amount of time and don’t use any water. Generally, the longer you cook a vegetable, the more of its nutrients are lost during cooking. Also, when you use water to cook vegetables, such as boiling, a lot of the nutrients seep out into the water, and are lost.
Sweet Pineapple is one of the best sources of the trace mineral Manganese.
Manganese, is an essential cofactor in a number of enzymes important in energy production and antioxidant defenses. In addition to manganese, pineapple is an excellent source of thiamin, a B vitamin that acts as a cofactor in enzymatic reactions central to energy production.
Pineapples have exceptional juiciness and a vibrant tropical flavor that balances the tastes of sweet and tart. They are second only to bananas as America’s favorite tropical fruit. Although the season for pineapple runs from March through June, they are available year-round in local markets.
If you browse the Jacksonville Farmers Market on any given day, chances are at least one vendor is slicing and serving up samples of fresh, sweet pineapple.
Pineapple also provides potential anti-inflammatory and digestive benefits. Bromelain is a complex mixture of substances that can be extracted from the stem and core fruit of the pineapple. Among dozens of components known to exist in this crude extract, the best studied components are a group of protein-digesting enzymes (called cysteine proteinases).
Originally, researchers believed that these enzymes provided the key health benefits found in bromelain, a popular dietary supplement containing these pineapple extracts. In addition, researchers believed that these benefits were primarily limited to help with digestion in the intestinal tract. However, further studies have shown that bromelain has a wide variety of health benefits, and that many of these benefits may not be related to the different enzymes found in this extract.
With all of these benefits and more, it is an easy decision to adopt pineapple to your daily diet. Especially when it is so readily available, as a year round fruit.
Beta-carotene is one of a group of red, orange, and yellow pigments called carotenoids.
Beta-carotene and other carotenoids provide approximately 50% of the vitamin A needed in the American diet. Beta-carotene can be found in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
Reduce the risk of sunburn.
Some people who sunburn easily, including those with an inherited disease called erythropoietic protoporphyria (EPP), use beta-carotene to reduce the risk of sunburn.
Beta-carotene is used to decrease asthma symptoms caused by exercise; to prevent certain cancers, heart disease, cataracts, and age related macular degeneration (AMD); and to treat AIDS, alcoholism, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, epilepsy, headache, heartburn, high blood pressure, infertility, Parkinson’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, schizophrenia, and skin disorders including psoriasis and vitiligo.
It is recommended to get beta-carotene and other antioxidants from food instead of supplements, at least until research finds out whether supplements offer the same benefits. Eating 5 servings of fruits and vegetables daily provides 6-8 mg of beta-carotene.
Carrots are one of the richest sources of Beta-carotent. Your body turns beta-carotene into vitamin A, so its beta-carotene content is illustrated by the fact that one small carrot supplies nearly 300 percent of your daily recommended intake of vitamin A.
So, like mom always said… it’s essential to eat all of your carrots.