Which are the fresh fruits and vegetables of autumn? What can they offer us and how can we introduce them in our daily food consumption? As we all know the Mediterranean Diet is rich in vegetables and fruits. In fact vegetables and fruits are in the ‘’most frequent consumption step’’ of the Mediterranean Diet pyramid. You are encouraged to use fruits and vegetables, raw or cooked, in your daily meals since they enable good physical and mental health.
These are some of the seasonal fruits and vegetables that you can find in the open air markets or in your next door grocery store and they can be used in raw or cooked form.
Spinach: One cup of raw spinach will not give you more than 10 calories while a cup of boiled spinach will contribute around 40 calories to your daily needs. This is a big difference so you need to manage the way you use Spinach. Spinach contains plenty of valuable and nutritional elements for your health like: Vitamins A, B, C and K, manganese, calcium, folate, magnesium and fibers. It is also a good source of vegetable iron. However it should be noted that due to the fact that the iron provided is from a plant source, it is not absorbed in great quantities by our body so it is essential to combine the consumption of spinach with a vitamin C source. For instance you may put lemon on your food or eat an orange after your food. These actions will enable the increased absorption of iron by our body and thus enable us to take full advantage of a spinach meal. Several studies over the years have shown that spinach consumption protects us from osteoporosis, arthritis, cardiovascular diseases and rectum cancer.
Spinach tip: Add a few leaves of raw spinach in your salads or add it as a side dish. You may also make a nice omelette with spinach, tomatoes, peppers, mushroom and law fat grated white cheese!
Broccoli: A cup of boiled broccoli gives us about 55 calories and it contains Vitamin A, C and B1 as well as Iron, potassium, Phosphorous, magnesium, folate, calcium and natural fibers. It has been proven over the years that Broccoli is our ally against cancer, and several cardiovascular diseases.
Broccoli tip: Combine broccoli with a whole grain pasta dish and add some low fat grated cheese. It will make a delicious and healthy dish.
Brussels sprouts: They were first cultivated in ancient Rome and are now used all over the world. One cup of boiled Brussels sprouts will give us about 66 calories. They contain fibers, Vitamins A, C, B6 and K and folate. They also contain antioxidants. Consumption of Brussels sprouts protects us against certain forms of cancer like the colon and stomach cancer
Brussels sprouts tip: You may serve them raw, boiled or steamed, in vinegar or even cooked in the oven. If you cut them in small pieces and put them in the salad you may want to add garlic or cumin since these additions will eliminate their characteristic bitter taste!
Cabbage: A cup of raw cabbage has just 18 calories while a cup of boiled cabbage contributes 34 calories to our daily intake. It contains fibers, calcium, potassium, complex B vitamins, Vitamins A and C. Due to their rich content of Vitamin C they protect our body from the free radicals which are the cause of degenerative diseases and aging!
Cabbage tip: Cut cabbage and carrots in long thin slices and put a lot of lemon on them. They form an excellent snack and hunger depressant!
Apple: We have talked many times about apple and its beneficial impact in our health. One small apple gives us 54 calories. It contains fibers, Vitamins A and C as well as antioxidants such us flavonoids. The daily consumption of apples suppresses the aging diseases and offers an anti-aging, anti-stress and anti-fever protection.
Apple tip: Prefer the red apples over any other kind. They are richer in antioxidants.
Kiwi: A medium kiwi provides about 56 calories and at the same time it provides us with twice as much vitamin C as an orange does. It contains Calcium, Potassium, Phosphorous, fibers as well as antioxidants like Lutein. Lutein protects us against chronic eye diseases. In addition to all these the little black seeds in Kiwi contain omega-3 fatty acids which are valuable for a healthy heart.
Kiwi tip: You nay use Kiwi in your Greek Yogurt with some honey. It is an excellent snack or a meal.
Banana: A large banana has a lot of calories, 120 calories, which is the equivalent of two other fruits. A medium banana may have a few more calories than any other medium fruit but it certainly contains the necessary and essential nutrients like Vitamin C and Potassium which contributes to the reduction of the blood pressure. It also contains fibre, which improves the gastrointestinal functions.
Banana tip: Using a banana you may make a delicious smoothie with milk or low fat Greek yogurt.
Orange: The calorie contribution of an orange is not more than 62 calories per orange. It is well known that oranges are the most common source of vitamin C but in addition to this they contain: potassium, calcium, phosphorous and Vitamin A. It reinforces our immune system and it most probably reduces the period of flu. It helps in the good health of the skin, bones and gum.
Orange tip: It can be part of our daily diet and is suitable for all hours: as breakfast, snack, as juice during a meal or as an after dinner fruit. Oranges are certainly part of the Mediterranean diet since it is primarily a Mediterranean fruit.
Pomegranate: Pomegranate is rich in antioxidants such as polyphenols, tannins, Anthocyanins, and in Vitamin A, C and E. It is also rich in folate and half a cup of pomegranate seeds does not contain more than 80 calories. Several studies have proven over time that pomegranate consumption reduces the LDL cholesterol and protects us from strokes.
Pomegranate tip: Add pomegranate seeds in your salad. It will not only add color and taste but it will make it healthier as well.
We have mentioned just some of the vegetables and fruits which are in season which can be used in your meals in raw or cooked form so that they will make you healthier and happier. Every Mediterranean diet follower knows that fruits and vegetables are an integral part of the Mediterranean diet and that they should be used daily in one form or another.