With spring bouncing away very quickly and summer just around the corner we will start to see British fruits come into their own as markets begin to sell locally produced seasonal berries and soft fruits.
In the coming months we have lots of delicious fruits that not only offer an abundance of health-giving nutrients but a versatile ingredient that can be enjoyed with both sweet or savoury dishes.
June: Nectarines, raspberries
July: Blackberries, blueberries, blackcurrants, cherries, gooseberries and peaches
August: Figs, grapes, plums, redcurrants
But what makes seasonal produce so much better than the varieties you can by all year around? To start with, eating seasonally mean less stress on the environment and a more economical way of buying food as the abundance of fruit means reduced cost (simple supply and demand). As well as saving pennies and helping the environment, eating fruits in season also means experiencing their far superior taste and improved nutrition as they are left to ripen naturally, nourished from the sun and soil.
The evidence shows that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can lower your risk of many chronic diseases including cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Much of this is down to their high nutrient content which includes both vitamins and minerals as well as fibre and plant compounds known as phytonutrients. It is evidence of this effect that led to our long standing five-a-day health campaign, although recent research has suggested we should be eating closer to ten to optimise their potential to protect health. Diets high in plant foods such as the Mediterranean way of eating have always been praised for their positive effect on health and disease reduction.
Many of the nutrients found in fruits act as antioxidants which are needed to block the activity of free radicals. Normal metabolism generates free radicals which the body is more than capable of dealing with. However, a poor diet and lifestyle factors (particularly smoking and UV light) can increase their number which means a greater potential to damage your cells and increase your risk of chronic illness including cardiovascular disease and cancer (especially if cell DNA becomes damaged)
Key antioxidant nutrients found in fruits include beta carotene (orange fruits), lycopene (red fruits), vitamin C (citrus fruits) and vitamin E (avocados) and a groups of plant compounds known as polyphenols (berries, grapes and pomegranates).
If you struggle to achieve five-a-day (at least) then adding seasonal fruits to your daily diet is not as difficult as you think.
Top five tips to add seasonal fruits to your diet
- Smoothies count as two portions so try including with breakfast or as a snack (for a more nourishing snack try adding plant milks
- Add fruits to breakfast cereals, porridge or yoghurt for breakfast.
- Make a compote using soft fruits and berries (if you need to then sweeten with apple juice, honey or stevia).
- Add to savoury dishes. Soft fruits work perfectly in salads or added to tagines, curries and summer casseroles.
- Fruit makes a great low calorie snack (try combining with mixed seeds like pumpkin and sunflower for a boost of magnesium).
- Don’t forget that fruits freeze well so if you end up with heap of summer fruits then simply pack into containers and chuck them in the freezer so you can enjoy a taste of summer all year round.
While food should always come first there may be times when a supplement may act as a useful back-up. Try Healthspan’s OptiFive for an antioxidant boost.
Strawberry and basil smoothie
Nutritional information: 54 calories per serving and a source of vitamin C and calcium
150ml almond milk
12g basil leaves
Honey to taste
Combine ingredients in a blender and serve chilled.
About the author
Rob Hobson, Healthspan’s Head of Nutrition & Author of ‘The Detox Kitchen n Bible’ published by Bloomsbury 7th MayLast modified: June 10, 2021