Healthy Living: It pays to eat with the seasons

Healthy Living: It pays to eat with the seasons

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Eating according to the seasons doesn’t just mean better-tasting food, there are many health benefits to choosing in-season produce, too.

When farmers harvest their produce at its peak freshness (think strawberries, blueberries, peas, peppers, tomatoes, rhubarb, cauliflower and broccoli to name a few in the summertime to spinach, kale, beetroot, carrots, parsnips, apples and not forgetting the brussels sprouts, in the winter time) it means that this produce will have a much higher nutritional value than they would if they had been picked out of season.

Eating food that’s fresh and in-season maintains a higher quality than food that’s been shipped or processed, and fresh food is always tastier.

Because of modern farming technology, we can practically find any fruit or vegetable at all times of the year. Availability doesn’t mean that they are at their peak ripeness or freshness during the out of season times.

Buying produce in its natural season will allow you to experience the freshest produce. Having fruits and vegetables all year long means longer storage and transportation times affecting the food itself.

The longer produce is stored, the more nutrients can break down. This is also why foods eaten out of season don’t have as much flavour as in-season foods. In fact, the moment a piece of food is picked from the vine or the earth, its nutritional density begins to decline.

If food is grown and shipped before it ripens, it can affect its flavour and texture. And as fresh in-season food contains more nutrients, eating in season fruit and vegetables will result in more benefit for your health.

Choosing foods that are in-season where you live can be a great way to eat a more nutritionally dense diet that is full of variety.

Unfortunately we tend to be creatures of habit and if left to our own devices, we tend to reach for the same foods time and time again regardless of what is in-season.

We could all benefit from thinking outside the box and looking to what is in season in place of what we’ve always eaten. This gives us a chance to try new things.

Depending on the time of year, we might find our plate loaded with brightly coloured salads in the summer time or hearty soups and stews in the winter.

In addition to encouraging us to eat a more nutritionally diverse diet, it is widely believed that eating what is in-season gives us the chance to taste foods while they’re in their prime. It makes sense when you think about it.

We can settle for the taste of foods that have been sprayed with preservatives then packaged and shipped before they make it into our supermarkets and eventually onto our plates, or we can indulge in the full, fresh flavours of food grown mere miles from our kitchen table, picked perfectly ripe, and eaten within a few days of harvest.

Let us not forget there is also an environmental benefit to buying locally grown produce.

With less transportation needed to get something across the world or country, there is less pollution produced by the car, planes, and trains needed to bring those goods to your country. Local produce eliminates the required transportation and gives you delicious, fresh produce instead.

However, don’t stress If it is not feasible for you to purchase local produce, know that fruits and vegetables of any kind are great to include in a healthy diet and you will still get the many benefits from eating in-season fruits and vegetables.

Increasing fruit and vegetables in the diet also has the added benefit of supporting the immune system, and we need a healthy immune system now more than ever! Your immune system is the most powerful weapon you have against disease.

Strong immunity means that the body is better able to fight off viruses and germs and what better way to do it than including lots of seasonal fruit such as apples, vegetables such as cabbage, carrots, leeks onions, cauliflower and brussels sprouts and herbs like parsley and thyme.

For more tips on supporting your immune system, have a listen to the podcast I recorded with The Institute of Health Sciences- simple steps to wellness, episode 9, eating for immunity. For a really good visual guide on what’s in-season all year around, check out the Irish food board, BORD BIA.

Do you have a nutrition question you would like answered or a topic you would like to see me cover? If so just pop me a message, contact details below.

Debbie Devane from The Nutri Coach is a qualified nutritional therapist and health coach, Debbie runs her clinic from the Glenard Clinic in Mountmellick and also offers one to one online consultations. Debbie is also Nutritionist to the Offaly GAA senior footballers.

For more information or to make an appointment email Debbie at info@thenutricoach.ie

Ph: 086-1720055

Facebook: The Nutri Coach @debbiedevanethenutricoach

Instagram: the_nutricoach

To download your free 28-day plan go to www.thenutricoach.ie

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