Savoring Spring Vegetables

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As we enter the first full month of spring, we eagerly look forward to a profusion of spring vegetables and take one step closer to warm summer days full of sunshine and abundant fresh produce. This is a great time to boost your veggies – both amount and variety – and help fill at least 2/3 of your plate with plant foods.

Common Spring Vegetables

Fiddlehead Ferns
Garlic Scapes
Green Beans
Green Garlic

Pea Shoots
Spring Onions

Spring vegetables are the cheerful first signs of the bountiful produce season. Some of these vegetable (such as asparagus and garlic scapes) are actually the plants’ shoots, which appear shortly after seeds germinate underground. These shoots are packed with nutrients because they are a concentrated source of the beneficial molecules—called polyphenols—that can act as antioxidants and prevent inflammation. Other spring vegetables include stalks (like rhubarb), bulbs (like spring onions) and small roots (like radishes).

As sunlight continues to prolong the day and the year progresses toward summer, more leaves—which we eat as salad and sautéed greens—will emerge, eventually followed by the fruits that help attract pollinators to spread seeds for next year’s growth.

These spring vegetables are real nutrition powerhouses. Arugula, watercress and radishes are cruciferous vegetables, rich in cancer-fighting glucosinolates. Allium vegetables—like leeks, garlic scapes and spring onions—have thiosulfinates that also act as antioxidants.

As in all seasons, it’s important to aim for at least five servings of vegetables and fruits of various colors to promote overall health and lower risk of cancer. Here are a few examples of recipes that use these vegetables: a Buddha bowl, full of fresh spring vegetables; a refreshing radish and cucumber raita to top grilled vegetables or meat; and a zesty green pea salad to round out your dinner.


Author: Christina Badaracco

Christina Badaracco, MPH, RD, is a registered dietitian and public health professional striving to improve Americans' access to healthy and sustainable food through her work in writing, research, consulting, and education.

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