In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), spring is a time for rejuvenation and regeneration. Outdoor nature reflects this as foliage returns and flowers blossom while birds fill the air with their celebratory singing.
We should also follow this seasonal event by practicing dietary cleansing and rejuvenation. TCM considers spring to correlate with the liver. So foods that help cleanse the liver are appropriate, in addition to using liver herbs dandelion and milk thistle as extract supplements or teas.
The foods that are harvested during spring are the most appropriate. Make sure they’re organic if they’re in the EWG’s (Environmental Working Group) Dirty Dozen. If listed in EWG’s Clean Fifteen you can save a couple of bucks (http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/).
Here are those seven springtime food tips
(1) Sweet potato or yams are year-round superfoods. Not many are aware of how much nutrition is packed into these inexpensive veggies, but they are packed with nutrition. And TCM has them in its spring foods list.
(2) Globe artichokes are actually related to milk thistle and contain the same active ingredient that’s used as a liver tonic, silymarin. They also contain cynarin, a phytonutrient that also supports liver health.
Of course, you can always purchase pickled or canned artichoke “hearts”, but it’s better you buy them fresh and prepare them yourself by removing the outer leaves and steaming the inner hearts.
(3) Garlic has so many health benefits it’s hard to list them all. But it is among TCM’s list of liver rejuvenating foods.
One way to consume them raw easily is to slice up three cloves and mix the pieces in with a few chunks of avocado topped with olives and parsley (to quell the odor). Add olive oil, lemon or vinegar, and sea salt.
(4) Cherries are another spring food that TCM says helps relieve liver chi (subtle energy) stagnation.
(5) Asparagus appears on a few different spring superfood lists. It’s high in B vitamins, folate, potassium, rutin, selenium, and vitamin K. Asparagus helps regulate blood pressure and strengthen kidney function.
It’s best to select the thinner asparagus stalks and cook only the tips, not the tough lower stalks if you want to maximize flavor.
(6) Leeks are another spring superfood, high in sulphides that protect against heart disease and lower high blood pressure. Those compounds are also protective against colon and prostate cancers.
Leeks are eye health boosters with their lutein and zeaxanthin content, and they are high in key minerals and vitamin K.
(7) Fava beans are another nutrient-dense food that’s normally harvested in the spring. They are high fiber and low calorie, ideal for using in a weight loss diet after those winter food indulgences.
Fava beans contribute to heart health and stabilize blood sugar. Just like other beans, there are a variety of serving options, hot and cold.
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