Top 10 Foods You Should Eat This Spring

From artichokes to strawberries, these diabetes power foods will add fresh flavors, colors, aromas, and nutrients to your spring cuisine.

Boost Your Meal Plan with Spring Foods

Incorporate these fresh, healthful spring foods into your diabetes meal plan to add variety and improve your overall health. Many choices are available in frozen or canned forms to give you access to good-for-you ingredients all year long. You'll find nutritional information as well as yummy recipes for each fruit, vegetable, or source of protein.

Artichokes

If you're looking for a healthful food that helps slow down your eating rate and provides a broad range of nutrients, try artichokes. The trick is to keep dressings, sauces, and dips low in fat.

Consider the following:

-- One large artichoke contains only 25 calories, no fat, and 170 milligrams of potassium.

-- Artichokes are a good source of vitamin C, antioxidants, folate, and magnesium.

-- Artichokes boast 10.3 grams of fiber in a 4-ounce serving. This high fiber content helps with blood glucose management as well as maintaining digestive health, lowering blood cholesterol, reducing the risk of heart disease, and preventing certain types of cancer.

-- One medium artichoke contributes about 14 grams of carbohydrate. Because of the time it takes to eat an artichoke coupled with the high fiber content, the blood glucose response is likely to be lower than an equal carb amount of a refined food.

-- Artichoke hearts can be purchased fresh, frozen, canned, or jarred, with or without added seasonings.

Enjoy these recipes for artichokes.

Chicken, Brown Rice, and Vegetable SkilletShrimp-Artichoke Frittata

Halibut

With a firm texture and mild taste, halibut often appeals to people who don't like fish. Plus, with lots of nutrients in a low-calorie package, halibut is a top choice for anyone.

Find out four health benefits of eating fish!

Consider the following:

-- At 158 calories for a 4-ounce serving, halibut is an excellent source of protein, minerals (selenium, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium), and B vitamins (B12, niacin, and B6).

-- Halibut is also a great source of essential omega-3 fatty acids. These acids are known for reducing the risk of blood clotting and providing anti-inflammatory effects linked to reducing such health risks as heart disease, stroke, and cancer.

-- People with diabetes and excess abdominal fat often have elevated triglycerides, which increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. As few as two servings of fish per week may help lower triglycerides to the preferred level -- less than 150 mg/dl, as cited by the American Heart Association.

-- Halibut is available fresh from spring through mid-fall, but it can be found frozen all year long.

Enjoy these recipes for halibut.

Halibut with Strawberry Salsa (shown)Seafood-Corn Chowder

Beets

Brilliantly colored and highly nutritious, beets are heart- and diabetes-friendly root vegetables. Unique pigment antioxidants in the root as well as greens offer protection against coronary artery disease and stroke, lower cholesterol levels, and have anti-aging effects.

Consider the following:

-- In a recent study in Italy, beets were shown to be an especially important contributor of two carotenoids: lutein and zeaxanthin. These compounds are beneficial to eye health and common age-related eye problems involving the macula and the retina.

-- Beets are an excellent source of heart-healthy folate and the antioxidants manganese and potassium.

-- Beets are a good source of dietary fiber, vitamin C, copper, magnesium, iron, and phosphorus.

-- A 1-cup serving of boiled beets contains about 75 calories, 17 grams of carbohydrate, and close to 4 grams of fiber -- making this an excellent side dish for a healthful meal

Enjoy these recipes for beets:

Cobb SaladTurkey Spinach Salad with Beets

Blueberries

Packing flavor, fiber, and nutrition into a small, deep blue globe is what makes blueberries one of our top foods for spring.

Ways to enjoy antioxidant-rich blueberries!

Consider the following:

-- Blueberries are a top source of dietary fiber, antioxidants, manganese, and vitamin C.

-- With only about 80 calories and 20 grams of carbohydrate per cup, blueberries fit perfectly into a diabetes-friendly nutrition plan.

-- The extensive health benefits of blueberries include lowering risk of cancers, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes, as well as an association with improved memory and cognitive function.

-- While blueberries are delicate and delicious when enjoyed raw in season, they are easily available year-round frozen and dried for snacking or adding to salads, smoothies, and baked goods.

Enjoy these recipes for blueberries:

Blueberry PuddingMango-Blueberry Tart

Strawberries

Universally popular for flavor, color, aroma, and versatility, the strawberry is a fruit that makes it easy to meet needs for vitamin C, fiber, potassium, and other health-promoting antioxidants.

Consider the following:

-- Strawberries are a dream food for those managing weight and diabetes: a 1-cup serving of strawberries provides only 44 calories and 4 grams of carbohydrate, and more than 3 grams of dietary fiber.

-- While fresh strawberries are most abundant and tasty from April through July, it's easy to find quality frozen unsweetened strawberries in most grocery stores year-round.

-- Studies show two days as the limit for storing strawberries without seeing a major loss of vitamin C and antioxidants. Strawberries should not be washed until right before eating or using in a recipe.

Enjoy these recipes for strawberries:

Strawberry-Banana SmoothiesVanilla Bean Panna Cotta with Strawberries

Peas

Green peas make a terrific choice as part of a diabetes-, weight-, and heart-healthy diet.

Peas: A good source of this important mineral.

Consider the following:

-- A half-cup of green peas provides around 67 calories, 13 grams of carbohydrate, and 5 grams of protein -- counting as 1 carbohydrate exchange.

-- Green peas provide several antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients including vitamins C, E, and K, and a significant amount of the antioxidant mineral zinc.

-- Green peas are also a great source of protein and fiber (about 8-10 grams per cup for each), which assists in regulating blood sugar and appetite. That means peas are a good choice for people who are concerned about diabetes and weight management.

-- Only about 5 percent of the peas grown are sold fresh; the rest are either frozen or canned -- which means they are easily available year-round. When choosing frozen or canned peas, check labels for added sodium, and select products labeled "no salt added" whenever possible.

Enjoy these recipes for peas:

Sauteed Peas and Celery (shown)Pasta with Basil Cream Sauce

Radishes

Even though radishes are usually eaten raw, they can be also be added to cooked dishes or served whole. The leaves are often discarded, but they too can be used as a highly nutritious and tasty addition to salad greens.

Consider the following:

-- A half-cup of sliced radishes provides only 10 calories and 2 grams of carbohydrate, so they can fit into just about any diabetes, heart-healthy, and weight-management eating plan.

-- Even though radishes are a root vegetable, their high water content makes them low in calories but high in fiber, potassium, folic acid, and vitamin C.

-- As referenced in the Lyon Diet Heart Study on the benefits of the Mediterranean diet, radishes and other root vegetables can help reduce risk for cardiovascular disease.

Enjoy these recipes for radishes:

Spring RisottoCucumber-Radish Salad

Lamb

Often considered a staple of Mediterranean cuisine, lamb is a meat associated with heart health and a lower risk of chronic diseases.

Consider the following:

-- Over the past several decades, selective breeding, feeding practices, and trimming methods have reduced the amount of fat in lamb. Half of the fat in lamb is the healthier unsaturated type, and most of this is monounsaturated.

-- A 3-ounce serving of cooked lamb provides 30 percent of the recommended daily allowance for zinc, which is essential for growth, tissue repair, and immunity. It also provides 17 percent of the RDA for iron (needed to form red blood cells).

-- A 3-ounce serving of lean lamb provides 47 percent of the protein most people need in a day with typically less than 200 calories, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture -- a nutritional bargain.

-- Lamb is rich in B vitamins. One serving can provide 74-100 percent of the daily requirement for vitamin B12, which many people lack as they get older.

Enjoy these recipes for lamb.

Grilled Vegetable-Lamb Skewers (shown)Brown Rice Risotto with Lamb

Asparagus

As delicious as it is nutritious, asparagus is one of spring's greatest gifts. The nutrients in asparagus can help reduce risks for cancer, heart disease, and hypertension.

See the seven hidden powers of asparagus!

Consider the following:

-- A 1-cup serving of cooked asparagus provides only 32 calories and 3 grams of carbohydrate, along with 3 grams of fiber. That makes this spring veggie a superbly nutritious addition to a diabetes-friendly meal.

-- Asparagus is low in sodium and free of fat and cholesterol.

-- A serving of asparagus provides 10 percent of the daily requirement of folate, 8 percent of dietary fiber and potassium, and 100 percent of vitamin C.

-- Along with an abundance of B vitamins, asparagus provides about 3 grams of dietary fiber per cup, including more than 1 gram of soluble fiber. Soluble fiber has repeatedly been shown to lower risk of heart disease. Risk of type 2 diabetes can be significantly lowered with greater intake of dietary fiber.

-- Asparagus is regarded as the second-best whole food source of folic acid, after orange juice. Folic acid is known to lower the risk of heart disease, colon cancer, liver disease, and spina bifida.

Enjoy these recipes for asparagus:

Sauteed Shrimp and AsparagusAsparagus with Red Peppers

Basil

Fresh basil leaves make an amazing difference in the quality, taste, aroma, and nutrition of foods with which they are used.

More reasons to love basil.

Consider the following:

-- Basil is a rich source of vitamin K, beta-carotene, magnesium, potassium, and vitamin C. These nutrients are consistent with a heart-healthy and diabetes-friendly diet, as cited by the scientific journal Food Chemistry.

-- Using herbs such as basil to season meals adds flavor without adding sodium, which helps control blood pressure.

-- Fresh basil leaves should look vibrant and deep green, not wilted or spotted. Store fresh basil in the refrigerator wrapped in a damp paper towel. Add fresh basil at the end of cooking so flavor and aroma are preserved.

Enjoy these recipes for basil.

Mozzarella with BasilBasil-Lemon Shrimp Linguine

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