It seems there’s always an excuse to start a new diet; the enviable summer beach body, fall weddings, winter holidays, and spring cleaning. While it’s always smart to keep your diet in check, it’s healthy to switch things up as well. Don’t settle for the same produce and meal preps year-round when you can mix your favorite seasonal foods into a diet that really works.
Fall: Brussels Sprouts
Their harvest season begins in September and they’ll taste good through Thanksgiving. Plus, there are an infinite number of ways to spice, season, and prepare brussels sprouts.
A half cup of brussels sprouts contains more than your daily recommended intake of vitamin K. They’re also a great source of iron and provide a filling 3 grams of protein per serving. They “are believed to prevent cancer due to their sulforaphane, a powerful phytochemical,” says Abby Langer, a registered dietitian and nutrition counselor.
Fall: Sweet Potatoes
They’re a Thanksgiving staple that’s great for the whole season. Sweet potatoes aren’t your usual starch; an average-sized potato only has 110 calories.
The potato still packs plenty of nutrients. A single sweet potato has plenty of vitamins B6, C, fiber, magnesium, potassium and beta-carotene, as well as three to five times your daily need of vitamin A, which is essential to healthy eyes, skin and bones.
Winter: Butternut squash
Winter squash like butternut and spaghetti squash are high in vitamins and low in calories. It also has a heart-healthy dose of fiber and folate.
The squash’s color indicates another great health perk. It signals an abundance of carotenoids, which protect against heart disease. Butternut squash’s high levels of beta-carotene are fa deterrent against breast cancer and age-related macular degeneration.
Pomegranates and pomegranate juice are abundant in healthy antioxidants and vitamins. Pomegranate juice has three times more antioxidants than red wine and green tea. The antioxidants in pomegranate juice can help protect your cells from damage, and reduce inflammation.
Researchers found that the juice may also help stop the growth of prostate cancer cells. The harvest season for the fruit runs from October to February.
Rhubarb is great in pies, salsas, and salads, and great for your health as well. The stem-and-leaf vegetable is packed with calcium, vitamin K, and beneficial antioxidants as a result of its red color.
These compounds help promote heart, eye, and immune system health, as well as help prevent cancer. Field-grown, fresh rhubarb is best in April.
You can purchase asparagus year-round, but its peak is March through June. The green veggie is low in fat and a good source of iron, B vitamins, and vitamin C.
The spring vegetable is also high in fiber, which is good for weight loss. Your body digests fiber slowly which keeps you full in between meals and less likely to snack. “People should definitely take advantage of this vegetable while it’s in peak season,” says Keri Gans, RD, author of The Small Change Diet.
You know corn as the perfect side dish at an outdoor barbecue, but did you know it has surprising healthy side effects? two antioxidants in corn – lutein and zeaxanthin – help to form macular pigment that filters out some of the sun’s damaging rays and act as natural sunglasses (beneath your stylish summer shades, of course).
The benefits don’t stop there. An ear of corn contains all the necessary amino acids you need in a protein, fiber for your heart, and several characteristics that aid weight loss. Plus, corn is at its peak season May through August.
Another summer favorite, watermelon, packs few calories and major health benefits. Watermelon is 92% water, so each slice helps to keep you hydrated.
Staying hydrated keeps your memory sharp and your mood stable according to Eating Well. Watermelon keeps your body cool in the summer heat. You’ll also get fuller faster by eating water-dense, low-calorie fruits.