Eating seasonally is the way we were meant to eat and is easy once you know what you are looking for. You simply eat foods that are being grown and harvested at the time of year when you buy and cook them.
So why is it better for us? There is more to this style of eating than it just being another trendy food movement, there are some real benefits to this ‘food lifestyle’.
You get the vitamins and nutrients that mother nature knows you need, when you need them
We all know about the many health benefits of eating plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables including increasing our intake of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants as well as ensuring adequate consumption of healthy fats and fibre. Eating seasonally means that we can maximise these benefits by taking a hint from mother nature.
It is well known that Vitamin C is important for fighting off cold’s and flu’s. Citrus fruits and Pomegranates are abundant during winter and are all Vitamin C powerhouses. The National Asthma Organisation advises that rates of asthma tend to increase in winter due to the link between the common cold and respiratory distress. Kiwifruit is a wintery favourite of mine and studies have shown that kiwifruit can provide a protective effect against respiratory symptoms associated with asthma.
We are also provided with deep coloured root vegetables in winter which are perfect for comforting hot meals such as healthy stews, casseroles and soups.
Tropical pineapples come in to season in spring and are an incredible source of a protein-digesting enzyme called bromelain. Bromelain is well known for easing digestion and reducing inflammation, this has huge benefits when it comes to controlling allergies and asthma which always raise their ugly head in Spring as plant pollens are more abundant.
Summertime brings us many delicious stone fruits. With their red and orange colourings, they provide us with extra beta-carotens and other carotenoids that help protect us against sun damage.
Summer vegetables such as asparagus, cucumber, lettuce, watercress and zucchini all have high water content and are beneficial in providing extra hydration when added to cool summer salads.
More flavour and Nutrition
Not only do seasonal fruit and vegies provide us with the right nutrition at the right time but they also provide more of it. Nutritional value of fruit and vegetables begins to decline the moment they are harvested so it makes sense that produce that is consumed closer to harvesting will have higher nutrient density. Most anti-oxidants such as Vitamin C, folate and carotenes will rapidly decline when stored for periods of time.
In-season produce is also fresher and tastes better and sweeter. Fruit and vegetables that are picked for consumption rather than storage are more likely to have been naturally ripened on the vine or tree and harvested at the right time which means they have a lot more flavour and taste the way mother nature intended. Crops that are transported and stored must be harvested early and refrigerated so they don’t spoil, they are then heated to artificially ripen which dramatically reduces the flavour. Most people have experienced that super juicy, perfectly sweet orange in winter or that smooth, deliciously sweet taste of the first summer mango. Eating food how it was meant to be and getting the most flavour from it means you’re probably going to eat more fruit and vegetables too, win win!
If you are someone who gets stuck in a ‘shopping rut’, buying the same old fruit and veg you always fall back on, eating seasonally can also be a great way to incorporate a broader variety of fruit and vegetables in your diet. This means that you will eat more exciting meals and experience a whole myriad of health benefits that each of these gifts from mother nature can offer us!
Check out your local farmers market and start thinking about eating more season produce and I promise you, you won’t look back!