Everybody knows the importance of eating healthy. Among the many benefits, eating a diet rich in fresh vegetables and fruits has been shown to lower blood pressure, aid digestive problems, and reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. But did you know that eating foods that are in season is also important?
First, what does seasonal food mean? Seasonal food refers to the season or time of the year when a fruit or vegetable is at its best, or, in other words, most nutritious and flavourful. With some exceptions, this is usually when the food is harvested.
Another term often heard in connection with seasonal eating is seasonal dieting. What is a seasonal diet, you ask? A seasonal diet is a changing diet where you eat whichever foods are currently in season. What foods are available not only depends on whether you’re located in the southern or northern hemisphere but can also vary from country to country.
Why should you eat seasonal foods?
In most cases, eating seasonal foods is cheaper than eating produce out of season based on supply and demand. What’s more, eating produce in season is fresher and tastier and can also help reduce the greenhouse gas emissions resulting from food transportation and production.
However, when it comes to our health, perhaps the biggest advantage to eating a seasonal diet is that the fruits and vegetables available are at their nutritional peak.
What are seasonal foods for winter?
During the winter, living in the UK, it’s easy to think that nothing could possibly grow during the cold and dark months. However, you’d be surprised.
Among winter’s seasonal fruits and vegetables, you will find sweet potato, beetroot, pears (several varieties), kale, watercress, Brussels sprouts, turnip, cranberries, parsnip, cabbage, Bramley apples, mushrooms, onions, carrot, and pomegranates.
What are seasonal foods for spring?
Among the seasonal fruits and vegetables in spring, you can find cauliflower, artichoke, cabbage, celeriac, leek, swede, lemon, grapefruit, orange, and rhubarb. Like winter, you’ll also be able to find turnips, Brussels sprouts, pomegranates, Bramley apples, and sweet potatoes.
What are seasonal foods for summer?
Among the seasonal fruits and vegetables available during summer, you’ll find asparagus, aubergine, strawberries, peaches, figs, beetroot, bell peppers, chilli, radishes, rocket lettuce, spring onions, potatoes, tomatoes, peas, courgettes, broad beans, and rhubarb.
What are seasonal foods for autumn?
During autumn, you can find pumpkin, broccoli, carrot, butternut squash, plums, blackberries, mushrooms, cranberries, apples (various varieties), watercress, iceberg lettuce, clementines, sweet potato, quince, leek, kale, parsnip, and Brussels sprouts.
Getting the most nutrition from your food
While eating foods that are in season is more nutritious, unfortunately, as one source shares, due to soil depletion, many crops were much richer in vitamins and minerals a few decades ago than they are today.
This is where the importance of microbiota (aka gut flora) comes in. All the microorganisms in your body, including bacteria, yeast, fungi, viruses, and parasites, make up your microbiota. Gut bacteria are responsible for various processes, including aiding in the digestion of food, absorbing nutrients, and producing vitamins and other important substances.
Many aspects of modern life impact our gut bacteria or gut flora, including the consumption of high-sugar and processed foods. In combination with eating seasonal foods and prebiotic foods, such as asparagus, oats, leeks, Jerusalem artichokes, garlic, onions, and bananas, taking a probiotic food supplement every day is a great way to restore or maintain your body’s ability to absorb nutrients and support your intestinal flora and health overall.
While you’re here, you might like to read our post on how gut health is connected to your overall health here.