By Danielle Roberts, Nutritionist
Representing Health 2000, Danielle has a Bachelor of Science, specialising in human nutrition. For eight years, she worked with clients around a variety of health concerns like digestion issues and hormonal imbalances.
Nature is very clever.
When you stop to look at the vegetables and fruits that are available in New Zealand during the different seasons, you understand that all of the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants your body needs to function are within these foods. So, if you find you get confused or overwhelmed with all the nutritional information out there, try coming back to the basics of seasonal eating – and this is usually more budget friendly, too!
Beetroot: for healthy iron and blood pressure levels
Beetroot is a great source of fibre, folate (vitamin B9), manganese, potassium, iron and vitamin C. This vegetable contains natural, inorganic nitrates. Your body converts these nitrates into nitric oxide, which signals the tiny muscle cells around your arteries to tell them to relax. This allows your blood vessels to open up to allow greater blood flow, thus supporting healthy blood pressure levels. This action enhances iron distribution, so naturally supports healthier iron levels. Nitrates also improve oxygen utilisation in your cells to produce energy, which means they support physical performance – especially endurance training.
Butternut, pumpkin and orange kumara: strengthens immunity
These starchy vegetables provide a great source of fibre, vitamin A, beta-carotene, vitamin C, vitamin B6 and potassium. Vitamins C and A and antioxidants like beta-carotene work to enhance the functioning of immune cells, so are great to ward off those nasty winter ills and chills. They also can be fermented by good bacteria in your gut, creating short-chain fatty acids that keep your gut lining healthy and strong. This action also supports strengthened immunity in your gut and your body’s ability to produce energy from your food.
Broccoli: reduced inflammation and risk of developing diabetes
Broccoli is a rich source of many vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and plant protein. Broccoli is naturally high in vitamin K, an important bone mineral that supports the absorption of calcium into your bones. Broccoli also contains sulforaphane, which has an antioxidant effect that supports reduced inflammation. Sulforaphane also helps to slow down the production of glucose in your liver and supports healthy glucose levels in your blood, which reduces your risk of developing diabetes.
Fennel: supports immunity, wound healing and healthy gut bacteria
This is probably not the most common vegetable in your fridge. However, fennel is high in vitamin C which supports immunity and wound healing. It is also high in the mineral, manganese, which is important in metabolism and enzyme function. The essential oils in fennel contain more than 87 volatile compounds, including polyphenol antioxidants and anti-inflammatories which alleviate inflammation and protect your cells from free radical damage. They also have anti-microbial properties which protect and support healthy gut bacteria populations.
Try buying locally to support small businesses at farmers markets! Great foods include:
- Bean sprouts
- Brussel sprouts
- Bok choy
- Green cabbage
- Spring onions