Your Doctor

The Benefits of Seasonal Eating

I love veggies. My role as clinical lead for diabetes means I have a vested interest in improving dietary care for long term health benefits. As far as I can see, veggies always win. They are totally natural, packed with essential vitamins and nutrients, are affordable and a sustainable food source. Eating a plant-based diet has been linked to lower risk of obesity and many chronic diseases, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, inflammation and cancer.

As the weather changes across the globe so does the fresh produce that is available. Each season offers us an array of beautiful fresh produce; this is a great time to start experimenting and trying new recipes or reworking those old ones to incorporate more seasonal fruits and vegetables. In-season produce is fresher and tastes better, sweeter and is perfectly ripe. When fruits and vegetables are picked for consumption when they have been naturally ripened on the vine or the tree and harvested at the right time, they contain much more flavour and nutrition. 

At this time of year, the Easter bunny has a stash of chocolate to bring us, but out on the British farmland, fields are flourishing with lots of green leaves. As April draws in seasonal vegetables will include, cabbage cauliflower, chicory, artichoke, sweet potato and spinach.

Let’s look at the cabbage… 

Within the crisp, tightly curled leaves of the cabbage lies a plethora of hidden essential nutrients to help us stay well. We’ve all seen its green, white, red and savoy forms. 

The Ancient Greeks used cabbage juice as an antidote for mushroom poisoning, and for liniments used to help bruises heal. Ancient Roman nobleman described the medicinal properties of the vegetable, recommending it for drunkenness - both preventatively to counter the effects of alcohol and to cure hangovers. The Romans also considered this species a luxury item at the dining table.

Love it or loathe it, after reading these benefits you’ll simply have to eat your greens!

1. Helps boost your immune system

Cabbage is packed with vitamin C. This can help get you through the last dregs of the winter colds. Did you know it has more vitamin C than oranges gram for gram? Vitamin C is one of the best antioxidants, reducing free radicals in your body that are the fundamental causes of premature aging. It also helps in repairing the wear and tear of the body through the course of life. Therefore, cabbage is very helpful in treating ulcers, certain cancers, depression, and generally boosting the immune system.

2. Fibre

Cabbage is wonderfully rich in fibre, which aid digestion and help us stay regular. Good bowel health is important for our gut microbiome. There is increasing evidence around its importance for prevention of many chronic diseases. Regular bowels also mean less bloating and gas issues.

3. Anti-inflammatory effects

Cabbage is known to accumulate a build-up of cadmium-binding complexes containing glutamine. Glutamine is a strong anti-inflammatory agent. Consuming cabbage can reduce the effects of many types of inflammation, irritation, allergies, joint pain, fever, and various skin disorders.

4. Improve your vision

There is an abundance of beta-carotene with the veiny leaves of the cabbage. This can help prevent macular degeneration, delay cataract formation and generally promote good eye health. Beta-carotene has also been positively linked to reduced chances of prostate cancer, which is an extra bonus!

5. Weight loss

With only 33 kcal per cup it is good ‘fill me up’ to stave off hunger. It is packed with so many vitamins and minerals that it’s a healthy dietary option for safe sustainable weight loss.

6. Brain and bone health

Boost your concentration, mental function and memory with the aid of vitamin K and anthocyanins. Vitamin K is essential in building the protective coating around nerve fibres, preventing dementia and cognitive decline in general. Anthocyanins are thought to be an even more powerful anti-oxidant than vitamin C. Again, this can support our immune system and fight against cancer and other diseases. The calcium and vitamin K within cabbage can also serve to protect our bones and slow the rate of decay. Osteoporosis is a massive issue in the UK leading to premature death, let’s stay strong.

Fried, steamed, raw or boiled we have got to high-five the cabbage!

There are vast array of seasonal fruits and vegetables. Explore your local supermarket to enhance your taste buds to seasonally optimal flavours and boost your health as well!