Senior Home Care Blog - Western Cook & Eastern DuPage Counties

Celebrate Spring With Memory-Boosting Seasonal Foods

By Mary Doepke, RN

With the arrival of spring comes beautiful flowers, singing birds and a bounty of seasonal crops that are as healthy as they are delicious.

Many of these springtime favorites offer nutrients that aren’t just good for the body, but also for the mind, thanks to hefty doses of Vitamin K, which is believed to prevent or slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

As if flavor wasn’t enough reason to put these springtime crops on your plate!

A word of caution! People taking blood-thinning drugs such as Coumadin need to limit their intake of Vitamin K. Be sure to consult your doctor if you are unclear about whether you should include these foods in your diet.

Asparagus

This versatile vegetable is as iconic to spring’s arrival as green grass and budding trees. And it is just as healthy as it is tasty.

One cup of asparagus provides more than a day’s worth of Vitamin K, according to World’s Healthiest Foods, and is an excellent source of folate – a B vitamin that affects mood as well as mental health and memory.

Try adding asparagus to quiche or omelets for breakfast, to soup or salad at lunchtime, and toss it on the grill for dinner.

Rhubarb

This easy-growing perennial is the first sign of spring in many gardens. Best known as a filling for pie, it’s also a tasty addition to muffins, breads and fruit crisp.

The downside is that it takes quite a bit of sweetener to overcome its natural tartness. The upside of rhubarb is that it contains dietary fiber, along with that Alzheimer’s-fighting tool, Vitamin K.

Strawberries

Often paired with rhubarb as a filling for pie, strawberries are among the healthiest of fruits. These springtime delicacies are packed with healthy antioxidants, such as Vitamin C, and recent research has suggested that strawberries can help to control blood sugar spikes as well as improve memory.

The Nurse’s Health Study monitored 16,000 women between 1995 and 2001, keeping track of their consumption of blueberries and strawberries while monitoring their memories through regular interviews. The study’s conclusion was that women who consumed an average of a half cup of blueberries and two half-cup servings of strawberries each week had a slower rate of memory loss than those who consumed less of the fruits.

And talk about your versatile fruits. Strawberries are just as tasty paired with spinach in a salad as they are with rhubarb in a pie!

CLICK HERE for a strawberry-spinach salad recipe that everyone loves!

Spinach

Let’s just say that Popeye knew what he was talking about.

100 grams (about 3.5 cups) of spinach leaves provides 25 percent of the daily recommended dose of iron, nearly half of the Vitamin C needed in a day, and a whopping 402 percent of Vitamin K. That’s just to name the big hitters. Spinach also packs doses of dozens of other nutrients, including calcium, manganese and folate.

This super food isn’t just for salads. Toss spinach in eggs, use it as a pizza topping or add it to pasta to up the nutritional value of just about any meal.

Peas

One cup of green peas contains 40 percent of the daily recommended amount of memory-preserving Vitamin K and more than 20 percent of our daily folate. (whfoods.com)

Peas also offer heart-healthy omega acids, protein, iron, and several other vital nutrients, including lutein and zeaxanthin – phytonutrients known for promoting eye health.

Add flavor and color to your spring salads, stir-fries and pastas with a handful of these tiny spheres of nutrition!