Boost your immune system with greens

PUBLISHED: 11:09 27 May 2016 | UPDATED: 11:09 27 May 2016

There are many benefits to greens

There are many benefits to greens

Archant

Put a spring in your step and harvest the benefits of seasonal fruit and vegetables, the perfect tonic to beat the post-winter bugs and boost your immune system

For obvious reasons summer is when most British fruits and vegetables are in abundance and that is something we can update you on nearer the time. However spring has most definitely sprung (have you seen the incredible carpets of daffodils wafting in the West Essex breeze?) and there are some wonderful ways to make friends with home-grown nutrition-packed veg that is just coming into season.

Spring is the time to reintroduce your body to the green stuff and load up on some serious nutrition. Forget spending a fortune on powdered ‘health food’ creations, you can find everything you need in fresh, organic veg. Ideally take some time to stock up at famers markets but otherwise check your produce is home-grown.

OK, so you’re probably wondering what all the fuss is about as these foods are on the supermarket shelves all year round. But what we’re trying to get across is that out of season, your humble cucumber will have hiked up its carbon footprint and travelled hundreds of miles just to sit prettily on your salad plate. As such it will have been picked while still immature to ensure it does not spoil along the way. Not only does this affect the fresh taste and aroma, it also causes vitamin degradation and nutrient loss. Kind of defeats the object doesn’t it?

When our produce is in season it is generally harvested and to market within 24 hours making it at its peak in terms of freshness, flavour, and nutritional content. Better still, a study by Newcastle University concluded that organic produce has more of the antioxidant compounds linked to better health than regular foods, and has lower levels of toxic metals and pesticides. In simple terms this means that a simple switch to organic foods can ‘increase’ our five-a-day quota by two pieces in terms of nutritional value.

Rock the broc

Broccoli to be precise. This incredible vegetable has continuously come out tops in health studies with claims that it can prevent DNA damage and metastatic cancer spread; activate defences against pollutants; help prevent lymphoma; target breast cancer stem cells, and boost enzymes that detox the liver. For an inexpensive little bundle of ‘trees’ that’s quite an achievement, and an easy way to boost your health.

It is thought that the key component to all this goodness is sulforaphane which can also be found in more of our seasonal list including: cabbage, cauliflower, kale, spring greens and watercress. It seems the greens in particular really hit the spot and there is no better time to make the most of them.

Go for dark leafy greens (spinach, sorrel, chard, kale and rocket) which contain a plant pigment called chlorophyll. This has been shown to block carcinogens and help regenerate the coenzyme Q10 – an important antioxidant for fighting disease.

But if you’re still not convinced by the health attributes then perhaps the more aesthetic advantages will win you over. Research in Japan revealed that a higher intake of green and yellow vegetables is associated with decreased facial wrinkling, and let’s face it, have you ever seen a rabbit with wrinkles?

Look out for

• Asparagus

• Cauliflower

• Cucumber

• Jersey royal new potatoes

• Kale

• Leeks

• Purple sprouting broccoli

• Savoy cabbage

• Sorrel

• Spinach

• Spring greens

• Spring onions

• Watercress

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