We now live in a global economy and market that makes it possible for us to get produce from anywhere in the world at any time of year. Not that long ago you couldn’t find fruits and vegetables that were out of season in your area at the store. Now that you can get almost anything at any time of year there are a few things to consider about buying locally and seasonally.
Fruits and vegetables have the highest concentration of nutrients within three days of harvest. Heat, light and oxygen contribute to the gradual breakdown of nutrients so proper storage and shipping is important. It’s also important to realize that when produce is shipped around the world it may have been in transit for days before it gets to you and it’s already starting to lose nutritional value. Have you ever had fresh picked corn or a perfectly ripe piece of fruit right off the tree? It tastes amazing to eat fresh picked produce and you are getting the full dose of nutrients with every bite. Here are some top foods that pack the biggest nutritional punch when eaten fresh this summer.
- Blueberries: These delicious berries are loaded with antioxidants and have a protective effect on the brain. Studies have found adding blueberries to the diet can help lower oxidized cholesterol and improve memory in older adults.
- Watercress: This vegetable is a tasty addition to any salad and has the highest nutritional value of any fruit vegetable. It’s loaded with vitamins and minerals and the fresher the better.
- Tomatoes: They are loaded with vitamin C, antioxidants and phytonutrients like lycopene that is beneficial for eye health. Honestly, if you’ve ever had an under-ripe, out of season tomato you know how important eating these as fresh as possible is.
- Raspberries and blackberries: These are loaded with phytonutrients and very high in vitamin C. They also are very expensive out of season so take advantage of the summer time and load up.
- Dark leafy greens: Greens such as kale, spinach, chard and collard are nutritional powerhouses that contain antioxidants, calcium, iron and a host of vitamins. Combine that with the healthy fiber they offer and you can’t beat them any time of year.
- Cherries: You really can only get these in season because they don’t have a long shelf life. They are packed with potassium and vitamin C and are like healthy, summer candy.
- Avocado: Avocados are considered a superfood because not only are they loaded with healthy fats that your whole body needs including your heart and brain, but they are also high in protein.
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Of course these foods are good to eat any time but as with any produce, the fresher the better. In the summer you can shop at local farmers markets and get things harvested just hours before. That not only supports your local farmers but it cuts down on the environmental impact of shipping foods around the world. Always make sure you are storing your produce at home at the proper temperature to keep them fresher, longer. Buying organic is the best way to go so you know your delicious dose of nutrients and flavor isn’t laced with harmful pesticides and chemicals. Eating local and in season is another great way of taking care of your health.
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Dr. Ron Ledoux is a licensed Chiropractor from the midwest who has been practicing since 2001. He’s also certified in clinical nutrition and has extensive training in nutritional therapies and is enthusiastic about educating and offering natural health care to his patients and the community.