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Healthy Living Blog

Information and inspiration to help you make a habit out of living healthy.

6 Seasonal Foods that Support Weight Loss

Thursday, March 22, 2018

By , YMCA Registered Dietitian Nutritionist

Spring has sprung! Days are longer, the weather is warmer, and the birds are chirping again. As the flowers bloom anew, it’s time to revamp our diet, too. Let’s highlight some of the top seasonal fruits and vegetables that benefit our health in a big way. I'll also offer tips on how to select the best ones.

1. Asparagus

Asparagus grows best in the cool spring weather, so now is the perfect time to indulge! This veggie is a great source of Vitamin K, folate, Vitamin A, and iron. Vitamin K helps build strong bones, and folate isn’t just for a healthy pregnancy; it also plays an important role in heart health. Asparagus is available in green, purple and even white varieties, and it's versatile enough to pair with any main dish.

Selection tips: Look for spears that are about pencil-thin to 1/2 inch thick, with dry, tightly closed tips. Avoid any that look limp, wilted, or have extra-large, woody spears.

2. Strawberries

California strawberry season hits its peak during the months of April, May and June. These delicious fruits are packed full of important nutrients, like Vitamin C, potassium, manganese, folate, fiber and antioxidants. They are the superstar of seasonal eating!

Just one cup provides more than a day’s worth of Vitamin C. Even better, their versatility allows them to be used in many ways. Eat them alone, on top of oatmeal or cereal, blended into a smoothie, or use them to make a savory sauce to pair with pork tenderloin, chicken, or salmon.

Selection tips: Look for shiny, firm strawberries with a bright red color and fresh, green caps. Avoid any that look shriveled or mushy.

3. Spinach

There’s a reason Popeye was so strong after cracking open and eating a can of spinach. This leafy vegetable is often highlighted as a superfood, as it is an excellent source of Vitamins A and K. Similar to other leafy green vegetables, it also contains folate, iron, fiber, magnesium, calcium and Vitamin C.

Add it to your smoothies to amp up the nutritional content, or toss it into a delicious and veggie-full omelette for breakfast. You can also use it to pump up the vegetable count of your next stir-fry, make it the base for a healthy dip or the main ingredient of a fresh salad! There are so many ways to sneak spinach into all of your meals.

Selection tips: Pick fresh, crisp and green bunches. Store unwashed spinach loosely in a plastic bag and wash just before serving.

4. Rhubarb

The ruby red stalks of rhubarb are a sure sign of spring! Although often treated as a fruit, this vegetable originated in Asia and was first used for medicinal purposes. It is filled with beneficial vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, such as potassium, Vitamin C and calcium. These nutrients help lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, and cancer, and give your immune system a boost to ward off illness.

Selection tips: Choose stalks that are firm and crisp. The ones deeper in color are typically sweeter and richer. However, DO NOT eat the leaves! They contain a compound called oxalic acid, which is poisonous. Always remove the leaves first before washing and preparing the rhubarb stalks.

5. Apricots

Apricots have deep roots, with original cultivation occurring thousands of years ago. These bright, colorful fruits are an excellent source of Vitamin A and C as well as potassium. Due to their high fiber content, apricots are a great way to naturally regulate your digestive system! Enjoy them as they are, or add dried apricots to oatmeal or cereal. You can also use them to give your main dishes a Mediterranean twist; add them to a salad for a hint of sweetness, or mix dried apricots with some nuts for a quick and healthy snack.

Selection tips: Select firm, plump apricots that have a bright yellow or orange color.

6. Peas

Although offered year-round in the frozen and canned varieties, fresh green peas are one of the best “catch-em-while-you-can” delicacies of the spring. During their peak, these sweet, crisp vegetables are a delicious addition to any dish. And they don’t just taste good! They are a vitamin and mineral powerhouse, full of Vitamins A, B, C and K, as well as calcium, iron and zinc. An added bonus? These pods are also a good source of plant protein.

Selection tips: Pick firm, deeply colored pods that are medium in size. Avoid any that are soft, wrinkled, or decayed.

Check out more nutrition advice and recipes from our expert staff, and learn about the nutrition counseling offered at our centers. Our Registered Dietitian Nutritionists are here to help you grow stronger and healthier!

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