At the start of each new season, I eagerly anticipate the accompanying produce. Since I focus on eating as seasonal a diet as possible, a new season means the reemergence of foods I’ve come to associate with different times of the year: artichokes in spring, tomatoes in summer, apples in fall, and citrus in winter. While many of us are aware of the cultural and financial reasons for following a seasonal diet, there’s surprisingly little discussion about the beauty benefits that result from eating this way. Now that we’re well into spring, it’s a great time for a primer on which seasonal foods will give you that extra beauty boost.
Detoxification and cleansing are two topics often mentioned in the context of spring, and understandably so. After all, at its very essence, spring is about rebirth and clarity, two things most people hope to achieve as a result of a body detox. Although I disagree with most of the rhetoric that surrounds cleanses and fasts, there is something to be said for the concept of consuming more nutritious, chlorophyll-rich foods after a long season of rest. The following foods are especially beauty-promoting this time of year, so be sure to eat up while they’re available!
The artichoke is the quintessential spring vegetable, but its beauty benefits make it an important part of your spring culinary repertoire. Artichokes are a diuretic, meaning that they are great for digestion and prevent bloating. They also contain a phytochemical called silymarin, which is known to support liver and gallbladder health.
Tip: Rather than buying artichokes in the canned variety, try steaming them whole and stirring together a simple dip with maple syrup, tahini, and dijon mustard.
This spicy green receives some criticism for its bitter bite, but I happen to love it. Arugula contains glucosinolates, which, when broken down by chewing, release phytochemicals that lower inflammation, protect cells from DNA damage, and reduce skin redness caused by the sun. As we begin spending more time outdoors, it’s a perfect time to add some arugula to your salads to help defend against UV damage.
Tip: If arugula tastes bitter to you, try lightly sautéing it. Or, better yet, counterbalance the bitterness with a sweet vinaigrette and some nutty quinoa or walnuts.
Most of us know garlic as a potent anti-inflammatory, helping prevent disease and fight acne breakouts. In addition to that stellar profile, garlic also boosts circulation and supports the production of glutathione in the body, which plays a major role in antiaging. Add garlic to your meals to help fight off seasonal allergies.
Tip: My favorite way to utilize garlic is to simply saute in olive oil for 2-3 minutes and add a bunch of chopped kale or collards to the pan, letting them wilt and turn a darker shade of green.
Lemons are a veritable powerhouse in the beauty world: they are full of vitamin C and immune-boosting bioflavonoids, in addition to having astringent properties that aid in cleaning out the digestive tract. Lemons come in multiple varieties, so look out for them at your local farmer’s market.
Tip: For an simple way to begin incorporating more lemon into your diet, begin your day with a mug of warm lemon water.
Despite their spicy bite, radishes are full of amazing nutrients to help promote beauty inside and out. Radishes contain sulfur and silicon, which act to give skin a healthy glow and strengthen nails. They are also known to support the liver and kidneys, aiding digestion and reducing water retention.
Tip: Many people shy away from radishes because they are rather pungent. Before giving up on this beauty food, try a different method of cooking by either roasting them or pickling them in a couple teaspoons of ume plum vinegar at room temperature for 6-8 hours.
Strawberries are rich in vitamin C, which boosts collagen production. They are also anti-inflammatory, helping to defend you from stress and signs of aging. Surprisingly, there are few fruits that are in season during the spring months, so this is a great time to incorporate strawberries into your meals.
Tip: Add strawberries to your morning smoothie for a little sweetness, or bake them in streusel bars with a bit of maple syrup and vanilla.
This cruciferous veggie contains vitamins A, C, and K, in addition to an anti-aging phytochemical called sulforaphane, which can repair DNA damage and reduce redness and inflammation. While watercress is not highlighted as often as other green veggies, it’s noteworthy benefits render it essential to any spring meal.
Tip: Watercress is delicious in salads, especially when topped with a mustard-based dressing and some creamy avocado. You can also blend it into a smoothie for some extra veggie power to your breakfast.
What are your favorite spring beauty picks? Please share!
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Also by Molly: Cherry Walnut Milkshake with Cardamom and Vanilla
Photo: Mary Hood