Nature’s pHarmacy™ – May Produce

We spoke last month about why it is important to buy locally, and which crops were in season in the mid-Atlantic region in April. This week, we’d like to take a look at some of the May produce you may be seeing at your local Farmer’s Markets this month. Check to see what is available in your area, as timing may differ slightly.

Asparagus. What we know as the vegetable “asparagus,” is the young, tender shoot of Asparagus officinalis, a perennial flowering plant. Asparagus is best harvested young, as the stalk becomes woody as the buds open and the plant matures. Fun fact: If left to flower, asparagus produces red berries that are toxic to humans.

Asparagus is loaded with nutrients and fiber but is very low in calories.  It contains vitamins A, B2, C, E, K, and Folate; minerals potassium, phosphorus, iron, and zinc; and fiber and protein. It is a good source of antioxidants including the antioxidant vitamins mentioned above, along with glutathione and a variety of flavonoids and polyphenols, including quercetin, kaempferol, and isorhamnetin.

In addition, asparagus can be considered a detox superfood. The amino acid asparagine can serve as a mild diuretic, helping to remove certain toxins from the body. Other components improve how quickly cells can break down and detoxify alcohol. The chlorophyll in asparagus can bind to and detoxify heavy metals. Finally, glutathione, helps to detoxify and eliminate toxins in the liver, lungs, intestines and kidneys.

All of these factors make asparagus a healthy choice to provide antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, promote detoxification, and promote bone and body health, cardiovascular health, and digestive health.

Rhubarb is a truly seasonal vegetable, appearing early in the spring. Only its colorful fleshy stalks are edible; the leaves are toxic. Stalk color can vary from light green to pink to crimson red due to anthocyanin pigments. Anthocyanins have potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects and can thus help prevent disease and promote overall health. Rhubarb is also a good source of vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin K, which promotes normal blood clotting and bone health. Rhubarb stalks can be eaten raw or cooked. Quite tart on their own, they are often paired with sweeter fruit, such as strawberries in pies and cobblers. Fun fact: Over 3000 years ago, dried rhubarb was used medicinally as a laxative, anti-gas, and anti-ulcer treatment.

Strawberry. The strawberries we consume today are a hybrid of two wild varieties from Chile and North America, first cultivated in Europe in the 18th century.  They are rich in vitamin C, folate, potassium, manganese, and possess other vitamins and minerals in lesser amounts.  Other antioxidants and plant compounds in strawberries include anthocyanins, ellagic acid and ellagitannins, and procyanidins, which can fight bacteria, promote cardiovascular health, reduce inflammation, reduce cholesterol, regulate blood sugar, and prevent cancer. Fun facts: 1) Strawberries contain more vitamin C per serving than oranges, and 2) they are the only fruit with seeds on the outside! You may see fresh local strawberries at the Farmers Markets beginning in mid- to late May.

Vegetable plants. Many farmers start plants in their greenhouses that you can buy to plant at home to grow your own herbs and vegetables. Plants you may find available in May include a variety of herbs, tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, zucchini, peppers, spinach, lettuce, broccoli, and more. (Broccoli is one of the GGOBE foods that aids in detoxification).

Growing your own food has many benefits, beyond the obvious one of saving money.  Fresh food tastes better and is more nutritious. You can be confident that no pesticides or toxic chemicals were used on the vegetables from your garden. The act of gardening itself gets you outside into nature and provides exercise and vitamin D from the sun. Gardening is also meditative and can help relieve stress and anxiety. Fun fact: The practice of gardening is believed to be more than 12,000 years old.

Did you enjoy this post? We post new content regularly! Click here to see our latest blog posts and click here to subscribe to our weekly email newsletter.