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Fresh Spring Nutrition Tips for Seniors accent

June 19, 2024 | By

Spring is a season of renewal and growth, and it’s the perfect time to refresh your approach to nutrition. The best spring nutrition strategies include loading your plate with a colorful variety of fresh fruits and vegetables that taste best and provide the most vitamins and minerals this time of year.

Ready to take a new approach to eating this season? Let’s dig into the spring nutrition tips seniors can use to make the most of each meal.

Spring Nutrition Benefits for Older Adults

When you choose seasonally grown food, you’ll reap a variety of benefits for your health. Fresh produce is packed with more nutrients than out-of-season produce, and eating the right amount of vitamins and minerals is key to maintaining overall health as you age.

All those vitamins and minerals also mean that in-season fruit and vegetables are at peak flavor intensity. When your ingredients are bursting with natural flavor, you can cook with less salt and other additives. If you want to lower your sodium intake, incorporating fresh produce and nutrient-rich herbs is an ideal way to keep your blood pressure low and your heart healthy.

In addition to providing nutritional benefits, in-season produce can help lower your grocery bill. The higher supply of ripe, fresh fruits and vegetables means better prices on those items and an easier time sticking to your budget, both in the grocery aisle and at your favorite restaurant.

Tips for Maximizing Springtime Food Options

If chopping and slicing pose a challenge while preparing fresh fruits and vegetables at home, look for pre-diced options in the produce section or ask for seasonally based menu specials when you eat out.

Now might be too late to plant your own spring garden for this year, but you can start gardening now for late summer and autumn produce. Not only will you end up with a harvest of delicious fresh food options, but gardening is also a great way to enjoy the spring weather and stay active.

If gardening isn’t for you but you want to experience farm-to-table freshness, check out the local farmers markets right here in Des Moines.

The Best Spring Veggies and Fruits to Brighten Your Table

As the chill of winter fades, the vibrant colors of fresh garden growth are at hand to fill your plate and meet your nutritional needs. Maximize your spring nutrition options by choosing the following fruits and vegetables whenever possible.

Fresh Vegetables for Spring

As a side or a main dish, vegetables provide a nutrition-packed punch to any plate. Seasonal produce can vary by location, but in the Midwest, surefire springtime bets include:

  • Root vegetables: Carrots, radishes, beets, and parsnips are considered “biofunctional foods,” meaning they provide an array of nutritional benefits, from natural body hydration to antioxidant and anti-cancer properties.
  • Legumes: Fresh fava beans and green peas deliver fiber and protein that are key to maintaining muscle mass as you age.
  • Leafy greens: Seasonal greens, including lettuce, arugula, and chard, help older adults by preventing cognitive decline and improving heart health.
  • Herbs: Enjoy flavor enhancers such as parsley, garlic scapes, and other fresh herbs, which provide alternative flavoring options if you want to decrease salt and sodium intake and maintain a healthy heart and blood pressure.
  • And more: Additional options to brighten your springtime dishes include asparagus, fennel, mushrooms, and rhubarb.

Ripe Fruits for Spring

When you’re reaching for a snack, a side dish, or a sweet way to marinate meat or poultry, fruits are go-to options that provide a bounty of nutritional benefits. According to the USDA, a wide variety of fruits are fresh and ripe right now, including:

  • Citrus: Lemons and limes are bursting with vitamin C, which plays a key role in health by supporting brain cell functions, facilitating iron absorption, and strengthening the immune system.
  • Berries: Strawberries provide a strong dose of vitamin C and a healthy amount of fiber, which not only aids digestive regularity but also maintains a healthy heart. Avocados are considered single-seed berries and are rich in anti-inflammatory antioxidant properties. Additionally, pineapples—which consist of multiple berries fused together—offer high amounts of vitamin C and potassium.
  • Deciduous fruits: Apples and apricots, both the fruits of deciduous plants, round out the spring fruit options. Both options support healthy digestion with plenty of fiber and vitamins.

Delicious Recipes to Elevate Your Spring Nutrition

If you’re looking for creative new ways to incorporate the fresh produce we’ve mentioned into your cooking over the next few months, here are springtime recipes that provide a boost of vitamins and minerals.

1. Spring Vegetable Risotto

Perfect as a side dish, this creamy risotto is packed with asparagus, green onions, and peas. Cooking risotto requires a time investment, but the payoff is worthwhile; vibrant seasonal vegetables look and taste delicious balanced against the low-sodium cheesy risotto.

2. Healthy 5-Minute Avocado Toast 

Craving a quick snack or breakfast food? Try this simple-to-make avocado toast featuring cilantro and lime. This recipe also offers customization options, such as adding an egg on top for additional protein or substituting parsley for cilantro to suit your taste buds.

3. Swiss Chard and Arugula Salad 

If you find yourself drawn to leafy greens in the grocery aisle or farmers market, stock up on chard and arugula for this delicious salad. The zesty lemon dressing is packed with vitamin C, and you can turn this dish into a main course by tossing in sliced grilled chicken or crispy tofu.

4. Honey Roasted Beets and Carrots

Beets and carrots are packed with nutritional benefits, including a hefty dose of vitamin A and folate, without a lot of calories. This beautiful side dish is sweetened with a touch of honey butter and pairs well with tried-and-true main choices such as beef and chicken.

5. Lemon-Lime Pineapple with Mint 

Perfect as a warm-weather refreshment, this simple fruit salad is bursting with seasonal flavors. The citrus ingredients provide antioxidants, the fresh pop of mint aids digestion, and the vibrant mix of colors is a cheerful reflection of the growing season.

6. Strawberry Pie 

Strawberries are a favorite spring fruit for many people, and this uncomplicated pie recipe lets their peak seasonal flavor shine through. Whether you make a crust from scratch or pick up a frozen option at the grocery store, the heaping filling of fresh strawberries provides plentiful vitamin C to support your immune system.

Fresh Nutrition Tips for Seniors All Year Round

No matter the season, incorporating crisp vegetables, colorful fruits, and nutrient-rich herbs into your diet is key to enjoying delicious meals and improving your health and well-being as you age.

WesleyLife understands the importance and benefits of consuming fresh produce throughout the year. We not only feature local produce in the meals created by the culinary teams in our senior living communities but also grow over 20,000 pounds per year in our Prairie Meadows Hydroponic Farm — the nation’s only hydroponic operation affiliated with a Meals on Wheels operation.

Looking for more tips on living your best life as you age? Check out our guide, Living Your Best Life After 55, for insights into the habits and practices you can cultivate to enhance your well-being and live a meaningful, enjoyable life.

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