From supermarkets to online grocers, it’s no secret that you can get almost any food year-round. Though, there are benefits to eating foods during their natural season. Eating what’s in season lets you enjoy produce at peak flavor, nutrition and often at a lower price since it’s more abundant.
In May, even the coolest parts of the northern hemisphere start to see more local fruit and vegetable options sprout up. Keep your eyes open for these top-five delicious May eats:
Asparagus can grow an unbelievable 6–10 inches a day in springtime. Just 1/2-cup serving of the stalky green delivers 1/3 of the folate you need each day. A key nutrient for women of childbearing age, folate is essential for cell growth and development and can help prevent certain birth defects. And at just 20 calories per serving, asparagus is also a good source of potassium and vitamins A and C.
Eat asparagus raw as a crunchy addition to salad or wrapped with turkey. Drizzle it with olive oil, salt and pepper to roast it for a side dish.
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If you’ve only had artichokes as part of the popular spinach, artichoke and cheese dip, then you might be missing out on the incredible flavor and nutrition benefits artichokes provide. Artichokes are also a good source of fiber, vitamin C, folate and magnesium. Choose artichokes that are heavy for their size, which indicates they are well hydrated.
Try grilling artichokes for a healthy side dish. Simply coat the artichokes with olive oil, salt, pepper or your favorite seasonings and grill until softened. You can also use roasted or boiled artichoke leaves as an edible scoop for hummus or other dips.
Fresh cherry season runs from late May to August. Sweet cherry varieties like Bing and Lambert are easy to find at the supermarket. Cherries are a good source of fiber, potassium and vitamin C. Beyond the nutrients, cherries boast health benefits worthy of superfood status. They have been shown to fight inflammation in conditions like arthritis. In fact, research shows that eating about 45 Bing cherries each day may help reduce certain markers for inflammation in the body. Sour cherries, specifically, may boost heart health and help with sleep and post-exercise recovery.
Fresh cherries make a nutritious addition to salads, salsa, smoothies and whole-grain salads.
Though you may not think fish has a season — salmon does. Wild salmon season starts on the Pacific coast in May. Not only is it a quality protein source, salmon is one of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids. These essential fats have been shown to help protect the heart, and emerging evidence suggests fish oils might have a positive impact on the brain from depression to dementia. It’s important to note that the omega-3 amounts in wild versus farm-raised salmon, and even within the different varieties, can vary widely.
Check your seafood counter for fresh wild-caught king salmon this month. Buy it while it’s in season (and on sale) and freeze some for later. Salmon tastes great grilled, pan seared, roasted, poached or even formed into a burger.
Walk through any farm stand or produce section and you’re bound to catch a whiff of fresh, ripe strawberries this time of year. Synonymous with spring, strawberries bring the color and nutrition we all crave coming out of the cool, gray days of winter. At just 45 calories per cup, strawberries are a low-calorie treat bursting with vitamin C and folate. New research suggests that snacking on strawberries may help stave off the risk of Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Though they can be roasted or grilled, strawberries are delicious fresh. Enjoy them as a snack, tossed into a salad or pureed into a sweet sauce.