Superfoods for Spring: Three Nutrient Superstars

Spring is the perfect time to clean up any unwanted habits and cultivate new, healthier habits. One of the best places to start is by cleaning your plate! If your diet doesn’t currently boast an abundance of superfoods, now is the perfect time to try these nutrition-rich superstars and give a boost to your taste buds and longevity!

We all know that fruits and vegetables are packed with important antioxidants that can potentially decrease the risk for chronic disease. Certain foods, however, contain such high amounts of antioxidants that they are deemed “superfoods.” Try adding these three spring superfoods to your diet.

1. Amazing Artichoke 

You may be familiar with this green vegetable, but perhaps have bypassed it in your produce section. According to the USDA, fresh artichokes rank first in antioxidants in the vegetable category. Artichokes contain two powerful antioxidants, cynarin and silymarin, which may improve your liver health. With only 25 calories, zero fat, and 170 mg of potassium, this green vegetable is the perfect addition to your spring meals. High in vitamin C, folate, magnesium and fiber, this superfood is also simple to prepare.

Cook up an artichoke:

1. Rinse the artichoke well before cooking. Pull off the outer, tough petals, and slice off the stems.

2. Stand the artichoke in a large saucepan covered with water halfway. Cover and simmer for about 30 – 40 minutes, or you may choose to steam it instead. The artichoke is ready when the leaves can be pulled off easily.

3. Hold the tip of the leaves, curved side down and eat the fleshy part. To get to the heart, make sure you scoop out the hairy layer or the "choke.” Enjoy!

2. Fabulous Figs 

Dried figs are pretty easy to come by year round. But, have you ever had a fresh fig? Once the birds start chirping, you will see fresh figs pop up in your grocery stores and markets. Take advantage of this sweet and delicious fruit this season! Figs boast the highest mineral content of all common fruits and are an excellent source of potassium. In addition, figs contain bone-strengthening calcium, iron, vitamin B6, and fiber. Insoluble fiber may help protect against colon cancer, while soluble fiber helps to lower cholesterol and blood pressure. Unlike their dried counterpart, fresh figs contain a very soft flesh and pair perfectly with mixed greens, unsweetened yogurt, or can be added to savory dishes. Figs contain powerful compounds called polyphenols and flavonoids that put them at the top of the superfood list.

Try a simple fig recipe: 

Slice fresh figs in half and top with a dollop of unsweetened yogurt. Sprinkle with unsalted, toasted pistachios and drizzle with a touch of raw, organic honey or maple syrup. Enjoy as a snack or dessert!

3. Remarkable Ramps

Also known as wild spring onions, these green, lean, antioxidant-rich plants are only in season from late April until early June. Resembling scallions, they impart a delicious garlic-onion flavor to your dishes and can be found at your local farmer’s market. Their sulfur-containing compounds and flavonoids put ramps on the nutritional pedestal. In addition to their delicious taste, ramps contain the trace mineral selenium, which the body requires in small amounts. Some studies suggest that selenium may help protect the body against certain cancers, cardiovascular disease, and the adverse effects of heavy metals. So what are you waiting for? Run and get those ramps while you can!

Use ramps in your cooking:

Ramps can be used in your meals, taking the place of garlic. Enjoy them raw in salads or sautéed with your favorite vegetables.

I hope that you will enjoy these nutritious superfoods this season!

May you live long, live strong, and live happy!

—Dr. Mao

Find plenty of nutrient-rich and tasty recipes for long and healthy living in Secrets of Longevity Cookbook, which just came out. Also, many of the terms that were defined in this article come from The Natural Health Dictionary, a comprehensive guide that answers all your questions about natural remedies, healing herbs, longevity foods, vitamins, and supplements.

Follow me on Twitter to get insider tips and to ask your health questions.

This blog is meant to educate, but it should not be used as a substitute for personal medical advice. The reader should consult his or her physician or clinician for specific information concerning specific medical conditions. While all reasonable efforts have been made to ensure that all information presented is accurate, as research and development in the medical field is ongoing, it is possible that new findings may supersede some data presented.

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