7 Healthy Spring Foods to Boost Your DietBy Nicki Miller Reviewed by Briana Rodriquez, R.D. Science-Backed
With warm weather approaching and long evenings arriving, spring is a great time to refocus on your health and weight loss goals. A variety of fruits and vegetables are in season now, which can make healthy eating even more delicious. Fresh produce is rich in fiber, vitamins and minerals to help support your weight loss journey, and it’s a simple way to add more volume and nutrition to every meal.
If you have trouble finding these fruits and vegetables while they’re fresh, frozen produce is just as nutritious (and delicious)! You can even find healthy non-perishable varieties. Check out seven of our favorite springtime foods, plus tasty ways to incorporate them into breakfast, lunch or dinner.
If you are on the Jenny Craig program, check with your coach before making any swaps or changes to your plan to ensure you stay on track!
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These small stone fruits are smaller cousins of the peach, but with a more plum-like flavor. They’re low in calories, packed with vitamins and antioxidants, and also have plenty of fiber. Apricots have both soluble and insoluble fiber; soluble fibers like pectin help regulate blood sugar and cholesterol, while insoluble fiber helps regulate digestion, improve your gut bacteria and help you feel fuller.1
Eat up: Sweet-tart apricots are easy to incorporate into your day, either as a snack or with a meal. You can eat them fresh: One serving is about four apricots. Slice them in half and spread on a little nut butter on them for a satisfying snack. Slice or chop them up and add them to a salad, yogurt or cottage cheese, or mix them into a savory meal like a slow-cooked meat entrée or rice-based dish.
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This springtime treat is another low-calorie star (1 cup = 40 calories2), but punches way above its weight in nutrition. Loaded with nutrients and antioxidants, asparagus also contains an amino acid that helps flush extra fluids from the body, which could decrease bloating.3 This tasty shoot is also loaded with vitamin K, which may support heart and bone health.4
Eat up: Asparagus is versatile in the kitchen. Add chopped asparagus to a salad or an omelet. You can cook it lightly in the microwave or by steaming. You can also lightly sauté it and add it to a wide variety of dishes, like a pasta or rice dish, or simply serve it as a side dish. It pairs especially well with peppers and onions. If you’re following the Jenny Craig program, you’ll find asparagus (and many other non-starchy vegetables) on the Fresh & Free Additions list!
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The buttery, nutty goodness of avocados needs no hype. Avocados are a good source of monounsaturated fatty acids, which may help lower levels of unhealthy LDL cholesterol and decrease abdominal fat.5 If weight loss is your goal, two tablespoons (or one-fourth of a medium avocado) provides plenty of nutrients while keeping you on track.
Eat up: Avocado can replace butter or mayo in many recipes, adding flavor while improving nutrition. Try it in this Blueberry Cauliflower Smoothie for extra creaminess. Or, add slices on top of salads or as a garnish on spicy dishes. And there’s always the old favorite: guacamole.
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4. Baby greens and microgreens
Baby greens are just that: leafy vegetables like spinach, kale, collards, chard, mustard greens and arugula that are harvested days or weeks before they reach maturity, for a more tender and bite-sized experience. Nutritionally, they largely have a similar profile to the adult versions of the vegetable, though “microgreens,” harvested very early, can be denser in nutrients.6 So you get all of the terrific weight loss-supporting benefits of mature plants (low calories, high quality nutrients, loads of fiber) in a much smaller package.
Eat up: Baby greens can be used in any of your favorite salad recipes — either sweet or savory — or as a bed for grains like quinoa or wild rice. Pair baby greens with protein by very lightly sautéing them and serving with salmon or your favorite seafood. (Try one of these warm salad recipes you’ve probably never tried.) While spring is the natural season for baby greens, they are usually available year-round in the supermarket.
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Herbs are ideal for adding a pop of flavor to many dishes, making for a more satisfying meal. Three herbs that are particularly delightful in springtime are chives and dill. Chives are the smallest member of the onion family, but with a milder, sweeter flavor; they also contain a surprising amount of potassium.7 In addition to its strong, tangy, zesty flavor, dill contains calcium, which is important for bone health.8,9
Eat up: Chives are often used to liven up a baked potato, but they are versatile enough to be added to any savory recipe; try mixing finely chopped chives into meatballs or sprinkle them on fish. Dill is great in spreads, dips and salads, and it tastes great with asparagus. You can find herbs year-round in stores, but your first homegrown harvests of the season will be in the spring.
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Packed with protein and fiber, as well as a wide variety of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, peas may also help you feel full, slow digestion and can assist in weight loss.10 Springtime is when fresh peas are at their tastiest.
Eat up: Pop some fresh peas into a salad for sweet, healthy boost — a half cup counts for 1 serving of starch. Sauté them lightly with mushrooms and shallots as a great side for your favorite lean protein. Or even add some mashed peas into your guacamole to add a sweeter flavor and boost protein and fiber.
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No food says springtime more than fresh strawberries, whether they’re from the grocery store or a roadside stand. Aside from that heavenly taste that tells you summer is on the way, strawberries are a great source of vitamin C.11 Vitamin C may help to support your immune system function and your weight loss efforts, as studies have shown lower levels of vitamin C in the blood associated with higher body
Eat up: Strawberries are perfect whole as a snack, sprinkled over a salad (especially with a balsamic vinaigrette) and pair perfectly with plain, nonfat Greek yogurt. One serving of sliced strawberries is about one cup.
In a season when everything seems to be blooming and growing, spring is a great time to find a variety of fruits and vegetables. Packed with flavor and nutrients, these versatile foods can be used in your meals in so many delicious ways.
Looking for more ways to add healthy produce into your dishes, all while supporting your weight loss efforts? Jenny Craig can help! Get delicious, balanced meals delivered to your doorstep today.
Nicki is a journalist with expertise in healthy eating and exercise. She is the former editor-in-chief of Competitor Running and managing editor of Women's Running magazines and writes articles and crafts recipes for a variety of websites and publications. She also loves cycling, making music and is wild about cats, dogs and other animals.
Favorite healthy snack: anything with nut butter!
Briana is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Personal Trainer for Jenny Craig, based in Carlsbad, California. She is passionate about utilizing food as functional and preventative medicine. Guided by a simplistic and optimistic approach, Briana’s philosophy is to help people improve their health and achieve their goals through the development of sustainable habits to live a healthy life. In her free time, you can find her strength training, indoor cycling, coffee tasting, and at local eateries with her husband and two dogs.
Favorite healthy snack: peanut butter with celery alongside a grapefruit-flavored sparkling water (so refreshing!)
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