Fresh foods for the summer

These days, the idea of eating foods ‘in season’ has nearly lost its meaning. Worldwide distribution has now made a variety of foods available all year round. However, buying seasonally harvested and locally grown produce from farmers’ markets and local grocers not only helps sustain regional agriculture, but also assures you’re getting the highest quality in freshness and taste.

Read on for some healthy foods to help put the pep back in your step this summer!

Asparagus: Rich in vitamins A and C, calcium, iron, and folate. Choose asparagus stalks that are rounded, with firm, thin stems and dark green or purplish closed tips. Just one serving of cooked asparagus provides over half of the daily requirement for folate, essential for heart health and prevention of birth defects.

Salmon: The health benefits of eating fatty, cold-water fish are widely known, but salmon contains the highest volume of omega-3 fatty acids, essential for maintaining good heart health.

Spinach is a rich source of vitamin A (for cardiovascular health ) and vitamin K (for bone health ). Is it any wonder it was a favourite of Popeye!

Apricots: Not only do they help satisfy a sweet tooth, but the vibrant orange and yellow colours signal a plentiful supply of antioxidants. They are also rich with beta-carotene and lycopene, two carotenoids important in reducing LDL (bad ) cholesterol and maintaining a healthy heart.

Scallions: These tasty vegetables are available year-round but are at their peak when they make their debut in the first few weeks of spring. They also provide vitamins A and C, calcium and iron.

Peas are a rich source of folate and a wide range of B vitamins, essential for the proper metabolism of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates.

Avocados: Often avoided by those watching their weight due to a high fat content, avocados have made a comeback as a great source of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats to help lower cholesterol.

Introducing a few small changes to your diet this summer could make a big difference to your health over time. So why not extend summer's fresh start to the way you eat?

By Pauline Dunne, Senior Community Dietitian, Community Nutrition & Dietetic Service, HSE Dublin Mid-Leinster. Tel (044 ) 9353220

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