Now May is here, we can revel in the fact that summer is just around the corner. As well as the promise of lighter, warmer days, the availability of different foods is also a highlight. In particular, vegetables tend to shine at this time of year, just before berries take centre stage during the hotter months of July and August.

Spring salads
Light, fresh and green dishes are more likely to grace our tables in late Spring and Summer.

Getting More Than 5-a-day

For decades, the health advice has been to consume at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetable a day. More recently, however, in order to get the recommended nutritional content we need from fruits and veggies, we need to look into eating around 10 portions a day!

Vegetables, in particular, are favoured more than fruits. This is because vegetables are low fat, low-calorie and generally low-sugar foods which contain sublime amounts of vitamins and minerals. Their benefits range from improving skin and hair quality to boosting mental wellbeing as well as helping us to fight diseases.

A basket of fruit and veg
Eating more plant-based foods reaps benefits for health and happiness

The Power of Green

Green vegetables are regularly placed high up on all the healthy eating lists whether you’re working out, dieting or swapping out less meat for more veg. Green vegetables are also essential to our diets in terms of physical and mental health.

Look forward to the fresh, green colours of Spring
Fresh herbs give a great green boost to many foods and meals

Greens are good all-rounders. The reason given for green vegetable superiority is because of the pigment called chlorophyll. We may know chlorophyll from science lessons into photosynthesis, where a plant converts sunlight into energy, but it can also benefit our bodies. Chlorophyll, in the human body, attempts to prevent damage caused by free radicals[1]. Interestingly, chlorophyll can also speed up wound healing too[1].

Regular consumption of green veg can also contribute to weight loss because it can stabilise blood sugar, therefore, there is a reduced chance of feeling sleepy or hungry[2].

Leaf and light
Chlorophyll is a substance which gives energy to plants

Chlorophyll is also linked to cancer prevention and can reduce the risk of dementia. To get the majority of the chlorophyll benefits from green, leafy veg, cook as little as possible or consume raw.

Don’t Overdo It

Recent studies have confirmed that a focus on eating the same foods, of any kind, can inhibit how we process the goodness in it. This is regardless if its meat, dairy or vegetables!

Many green vegetables are part of the cruciferous family which can trigger gut problems if consumed in very high proportions.

Savoy cabbage
Cruciferous, green veg can cause digestive issues such as flatulence, stomach aches and diarrhoea.

Saying this, it still is good to make the most of these green vegetables which are abundant during late spring and early summer to get the highest quantity of nutrients possible.

The Green Team

 

Discover these great vegetables in locally grown vegetable boxes from Hexhamshire Organics and G & S Organics. Alternatively, shop at your local farmers market or greengrocers such as Down to Earth in Selkirk and Galashiels and Julian’s Veg in Kelso.

Hexhamshire Organics grocery box
A grocery box from Hexhamshire Organics: plenty of green veg on offer!

Asparagus

British asparagus is believed to be the best in the world. Its season is very short from around late April till mid-June. Asparagus is wide-ranging in its benefits including its potential as an aphrodisiac to its antioxidant properties because of its high and varied vitamin and mineral content. Asparagus is especially rich in vitamin K and vitamin B9 (folate)[3] making it great for heart health.

Asparagus spears on a plate
Seasonal favourite: asparagus

Spring Greens

Spring greens are technically just cabbage but a lighter variety. Spring greens can be eaten raw but are also delicious lightly steamed or blanched. Often overlooked for more exotic veg, spring greens contain natural compounds including sulforaphane which is believed to be anti-inflammatory[4] as well as containing vitamins including C, E and K.

Spring greens growing
Spring greens are also known as collard greens

Spring Onions

Also known as scallions, spring onions are a milder alternative to its cousins the white and red onions. Filled with antibacterial and antiviral properties, the humble spring onion can help fight off colds[5].

Spring onion bunch
Spring onions are a popular ingredient in oriental cuisine as well as fresh summer salads

Broccoli

Everyone knows how nutritious broccoli is. It boasts high amounts of both vitamin C and K which are both exceptional anti-inflammatories and is beneficial to our hearts and blood. It is widely recommended by nutritionists that lightly steaming broccoli is the best way to retain the vital nutrients in this vegetable[6].

Broccoli is also a good source of chromium, which balances our insulin levels[7], manganese, which is important for our nervous system and brain function[8] and selenium, which has antioxidant properties mostly beneficial to skin, hair and nails[9].

Broccoli heads
The nutrient powerhouse: broccoli. Don’t forget to consume both the florets and the stalks for maximum nutrition.

Broccoli is a top vegetable to consume if you are concerned about cancer. The vegetable contains a compound called isothiocyanate which is responsible for its cancer-fighting properties[10]

Lettuce

Lettuce is an umbrella term which includes a substantial variety of salad leaves. Lettuce is an important vegetable that can help improve sleep, reduce inflammation in the body and also lower cholesterol levels[11]

Lettuce is generally eaten uncooked and can even be put into smoothies and juices. It has been a popular vegetable since Ancient Egypt[11] for its abundant health qualities including a high concentration of vitamins C and K[11].

Lettuce growing
Lettuce comes in all different shapes, colours and textures.

Watercress

Sometimes overlooked because of its natural peppery flavour, watercress is one vegetable to make sure to add to your shopping lists over the Spring and Summer months.

Watercress has more iron than spinach, more calcium than milk and more vitamin C than oranges[12] which is important for the iron absorption too if your levels are low.

As well as being a delicious food, research has proven that ancient medicinal treatments using watercress works for problems with the liver, fluid retention and mouth ulcers[12].

Watercress is also a powerful ingredient to consume with your dishes if you’re concerned about cancer or cardiovascular issues.

Cucumber

Cucumbers are a fresh vegetable associated with the warmer months. Cucumbers are in season from now till the end of summer. They are made up of 95% water, making them excellent for hydrating the body and are related to the watermelon and pumpkin[13].

Cucumbers
A British summertime favourite, cucumbers are best enjoyed in salads and sandwiches

The cucumber ‘seeds’ contain manganese[14], the skin is a good source of soluble fibre, beta-carotene and vitamin K[15].

Spinach

Spinach is a special vegetable which contains a staggering amount of vitamins and minerals including iron, manganese, folate, copper and vitamin B2 and E. All this goodness resonates throughout the body from your the skin on your face to deep inside your digestive tract[16].

Spinach’s bold green colour comes from the high concentration of chlorophyll[17].

A small bowl of spinach
Pack in plenty of spinach for a health boost!

Eat the Seasons

Enjoy these delicious in season veggies as well as other seasonal favourites including crab, elderflower and new potatoes. Green vegetables are great for our hair, skin, hearts, bones and digestion; what’s not to love? Feel the benefits by consuming locally grown, seasonal green vegetables over the next few months. Tell us your favourites!

New potatoes with rosemary in a bowl
New potatoes are a seasonal favourite this time of year

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