Welcome to sunny and rainy May! So many feelings when the tease of Spring is here, but we all know that summer is just around the corner.
A stroll through the Farmer's Market will remind you that the change in weather has resulted in an exciting new harvest. May veggies are super resilient, full of flavor and packed with great health benefits. Here is a list of them in case you feel adventurous and choose to make them part of your May feasting.
Asparagus: This spring staple is anti-inflammatory, high in antioxidants that can neutralize free-radicals and even slow the signs of aging, a good source of fiber, vitamins A, C, E, K, and chromium, a trace mineral that enhances the ability of insulin to transport glucose from the bloodstream into cells. It is also effective as a natural diuretic that helps rid the body of excess salts. Another anti-aging property of this delicious spring veggie is that it may help our brains fight cognitive decline. Like leafy greens, asparagus delivers folate, which works with vitamin B12 to help prevent cognitive impairment.
Beet Greens: Besides supplying good amounts of protein, phosphorus, and zinc, beet greens are also a great source of fiber. Packed with antioxidants, they’re high in vitamin B6, magnesium, potassium, copper, and manganese, and low in fat and cholesterol. Studies have also shown that the vitamin K in beet greens contains blood clotting properties, helps ward off osteoporosis, works with calcium to boost bone strength, and may also play a role in fighting Alzheimer’s. Beet greens have a higher iron content than spinach, and a higher nutritional value than the beetroot itself. The vitamin A content in beet greens helps strengthen the immune system and stimulates production of antibodies and white blood cells. The beta-carotene in vitamin A is a known antioxidant that can fight the effects of free radicals in the body along with cancer and heart disease.
Broccoli Rabe: This green leafy vegetable is a great example of a food that can have a huge impact on your nutrition and overall health as it is one of the most nutrient dense foods on the planet. It’s packed with potassium, iron and calcium, dietary fiber, as well as vitamins A, C and K. Broccoli rabe also contains lutein, which is an antioxidant that protects the retinas of your eyes from damage caused by free radicals. The health benefits are numerous and include slowing the signs of aging, promoting stronger bones, decreasing the risk of hypertension, reducing inflammation, as well as protecting against cancer, Alzheimer’s, stroke and birth defects
Dandelion Greens: The health benefits of dandelion include relief from liver disorders (Liver's best friend), diabetes, urinary disorders, acne, jaundice, cancer and anemia. It also helps in maintaining bone health, skin care and is a benefit to weight loss programs. They are also rich in vitamin A, C, iron, calcium and detoxifiers which explains its common inclusion in medicines. Some research even suggests that dandelion protects the liver from acetaminophen toxicity. If in case you are looking for a liver detox include lots of dandelion tea or juice some dandelion greens to get the best results.
Fiddlehead Ferns: Fiddlehead Ferns are packed full of great antioxidants that protect you from heart attacks, strokes, and cancer. They are also loaded in vitamin C which is great for a healthy immune system. These awesome veggies are full of Omega 3 and 6 oils, making them important for cardiovascular health and lowering blood pressure. They also contain phenol compounds like that found in green tea that help to prevent cancer and promote health and overall well being. They contain more than 130% of your daily requirement of Vitamin A which is important for eye and skin health. Vitamin A also helps to protect against cancer, especially lung. Fiddleheads are full of Beta Carotene an excellent antioxidant that helps to protect you from cancer and other debilitating diseases. Plus they contain important B vitamins that are critical for mood enhancement and for overall good health. They also contain trace minerals, iron, copper, phosphorus, selenium, manganese, magnesium, and especially potassium which is important for lowering blood pressure, cardiovascular health, and controlling water balance.
Jerusalem Artichokes: Also known as sunchoke, these are packed with B vitamins and thiamine which are great for digestion. High in inulin which helps regulate blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol. Full of fiber, iron, copper, magnesium, protein, potassium which are all key to a healthy diet.
Mache Lettuce: Also called lamb's lettuce or corn salad, mache is one of the most nutritious lettuce varieties there available, and its wonderful nutty flavor makes it a wonderful choice in salads, juices or smoothies. High in vitamin C and antioxidants as it contains almost as much as lemons. Also high in B6 which is great for a healthy metabolism, cognitive development, immune system and skin. Along with spinach, mache is as the top of the list of iron containing salad greens. It’s also loaded with heart benefiting potassium and copper to help regulate blood pressure and cholesterol levels respectively.
Magenta Spreen Lambsquarter: Magenta spreen also know as wild spinach is a highly nutritious plant, rich in vitamins C and E, essential fatty acids, iron, calcium, minerals and antioxidants which are good for dealing with free radicals. The underside of the leaves and top of the new leaves are covered in a fine pink dust. Resist the temptation to wash it off as it is full of calcium and protein; it contains even more protein than kale.
Mustard Greens: Mustard greens or leaves of mustard plants are excellent source of essential minerals including potassium, calcium and phosphorous, as well as phytonutrients that promote good health and prevent disease. It is also a good source of magnesium and dietary fiber. Vitamin content offered by mustard greens includes profuse amounts of vitamin A, C and K. Vitamin B and folate are also present which help detoxify the blood and aid in metabolism.
Radishes: Radishes work as a good appetizer, mouth and breath freshener, laxative, diuretic and metabolism regulator. People whose weekly diets are supplemented with normal amounts of radish see an improvement in blood circulation, and radishes are a good treatment for headaches, acidity, constipation, nausea, obesity, sore throat, whooping cough, gastric problems, urinary disorders, gallstones, and dyspepsia. Can also be used to soothe insect bites due to its anti-pruritic properties. Great for purifying the blood and detoxifying the system. Radishes were used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to cure endometriosis, and to fix liver problems, including jaundice.
Ramps: Also known as wild leeks, ramps have similar nutritional content as their cultivated counterpart , the leek. Ramps are high in vitamins A and E which are essential to the formation of healthy teeth, bones and skin and a good working immune system, among other benefits. In ramps you’ll find a wealth of minerals such as manganese, iron and chromium, important to the metabolism of fats, carbohydrates and insulin. Ramps can also improve the immune system, lower bad cholesterol levels and fight cancer.
Rhubarb: Some of the health benefits of rhubarb include its ability to aid weight loss, improve digestion, prevent Alzheimer’s disease, stimulate bone growth, avoid neuronal damage, increase skin health, prevent cancer, optimize metabolism, improve circulation, and protect against various cardiovascular conditions. Rhubarb is packed with minerals, vitamins, organic compounds, and other nutrients that make it ideal for keeping our bodies healthy. Some of these precious components are dietary fiber, protein, vitamin C, vitamin K, B complex vitamins, calcium, potassium, manganese, and magnesium. It is also a rich source of polyphenolic flavonoids like beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin.
Sage: The traditional use of sage in medicine is well-documented and stretches back thousands of years. It was initially used for the treatment of snakebite, protecting against evil and boosting female fertility. Out of the many health benefits of sage, some of the most important include its ability to improve brain function, lower inflammation throughout the body, prevent chronic diseases, boost the strength of the immune system, regulate proper digestion, alleviate skin conditions, increase the health and strength of bones, slow the onset of cognitive disorders, and prevent the onset of diabetes.
Spinach: It has been used in various parts of the world as a medicinal plant specifically included in cooking to help increase overall health. The health benefits of spinach include improved eyesight, healthy blood pressure, stronger muscles, the prevention of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), cataracts, atherosclerosis, heart attacks, neurological benefits, bone mineralization, anti-ulcerative and anti-cancerous benefits, skin protection, healthy fetal development, and boosted growth for infants. The various health benefits of spinach are due to its low fat content and the presence of minerals, vitamins, pigments and phytonutrients, including potassium, manganese, zinc, magnesium, iron and calcium. It is also a source of vitamins like folate, niacin, vitamin A, B6, C and traces of the rest of the essential vitamins.
Spring Garlic: Spring or green garlic is the younger form of the real garlic and this is collected before the cloves start to mature. Has the anti-cancer element and it is known to cause the protection of the blood vessel lining and in the way the same is protected from being damaged. This happens as there is an increased production of the nitric oxide and this helps in the relaxation and the dilating of the blood vessels. If you take leeks in the right amount you are sure not to suffer from gastric cancer so make sure to have the vegetable in your daily diet. The sort of vegetable has the capacity to fight against several ailments. This is the best component to reduce chances of stomach and colorectal cancers. This is the reason the intake of the same is sure to help you stay safe and less endangered. Great for women during pregnancy. It also contains lots of antioxidants and vitamins.
Written by Vanessa Upegui
Photography by Megan Martin