Home » Mediterranean or Not, Seasonal Eating Boosts Health

Mediterranean or Not, Seasonal Eating Boosts Health

Whether you follow a Mediterranean diet or not, eating seasonally can be beneficial.

Anna Fiannaca prefers the peppers, eggplants, and zucchini her brothers grow over the packaged food in the supermarket as peak summer approaches in Sicily.

As an 89-year-old who cooks everything from scratch and eats mostly vegetarian, she attributes much of her continued good health to adjusting her diet to seasonal availability.

“It’s just the way of life in Sicily,” said Fiannaca, who lives near Agrigento, one of the leading cities in the Mediterranean sphere.

Mediterranean diets are known for their healthy fats from olive oil and fish, as well as their abundance of fruits and vegetables.

Nutritionists, however, say buying in-season produce is an easy way to improve your diet no matter where you live.

“Seasonal eating is one way to build a broader diet variety,” said Sharon Gray, a registered dietician at the University of Connecticut.

What are the benefits of seasonal eating?

In addition to lowering the risk of heart disease and obesity, eating a variety of fruits and vegetables is an important part of good nutrition.

Gray, who offers healthy cooking workshops in Hartford to low-income residents, said choosing what’s most abundant on the market each month is a good place to start. In the summer, tomatoes, berries, and peaches give way to autumn’s pumpkins, squash and cranberries. All are high in antioxidants and fiber, as well as providing many vitamins, minerals, and complex carbohydrates. Produce that is in season tastes better.

“Many adults don’t like fruits and vegetables, so if you can get them to like something, then they will include it in their diet,” she said. “That’s moving people away from processed food toward home-prepared meals.”

A registered dietician at Cleveland Clinic who specializes in disease prevention and management, Julia Zumpano, said eating seasonally can also mean eating locally. Because local produce is naturally ripened and consumed soon after harvest, it generally contains more nutrients besides the environmental benefits.

“You’re going to maximize your vitamins and minerals, polyphenols, and antioxidants, which are the foundation for reducing your risk of disease,” Zumpano said.

What is the first step?

It is important to keep an open mind when changing your diet, says Sean Heffron, cardiologist at the Center for the Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease at NYU Langone Heart.

‘Oh, I see a lot of asparagus or peaches or artichokes now,'” Heffron said. “It will open your mind to more, and make you willing to try more fruits and vegetables.”

In addition to farmers markets, which now accept food benefit programs such as SNAP, Gray recommends shopping at regional grocery chains, which might offer local produce more easily than national retailers.

Besides saving money, it allows people to buy expensive items like berries that can be frozen for later consumption, which is usually an indicator of seasonal abundance.

She recommended enrolling in a Community-Supported Agriculture, or CSA, program, which provides a box of produce each week based on the season. “You don’t get to pick,” she said. “I usually have to purchase additional food, but that serves as a great foundation for me.”

Some studies suggest people in colder climates suffer from nutritional deficiencies in the winter, so buying leafy greens and other vegetables year-round is still a good idea.

“We need seven to nine servings of fruits and vegetables every day,” Zumpano said. “Ninety percent of us don’t eat enough.”

Also read: what is food measuring


You may also like

Adblock Detected

Please support us by disabling your AdBlocker extension from your browsers for our website.