Spring is a great time to shake up your diet and make the most of new seasonal produce to boost your overall health and vitality.

Delicious asparagus, avocado, new potatoes, mushrooms, fresh herbs and strawberries are all now available in store. Kiwis are being encouraged to make the most of these amazing fruit and vegetables while they’re at their peak.

Paula Dudley, The 5+ A Day Charitable Trust General Manager, says enjoying fresh produce while it’s in season provides the best value for money as well as offering a host of health benefits.

“Eating in season fruit and vegetables can help lower your risk of obesity, cancer, high cholesterol, heart disease and diabetes. Fruit and vegetables also help to improve your digestion, immunity, feelings of vitality and motivation,” says Dudley.

Potatoes remain one of New Zealand’s most popular vegetables, with 94.5 percent of people eating them and 94 percent of households preparing fresh potatoes at least once a week. “New season potatoes are the absolute best,” Dudley says. “They’re available from September until February and they’re a low calorie, high fibre food. They’re a source of folate, potassium, vitamin C, niacin and pantothenic acid.”

Avocados have long been recognised by nutritionists and scientists as a superfood and are one of only a few fruit which contain healthy fat. This healthy monounsaturated fat helps to lower blood cholesterol and increase satiety, and consumer demand for avocados will no doubt be strong again this year thanks to growing awareness of their numerous health benefits.

“Strawberries are another popular new season arrival and by November you’ll find them everywhere,” Dudley says. “They make perfect snacks to have on hand or pop into the kids’ lunchboxes or add colour and flavour to salads – they are rich in antioxidants and are a good source of vitamin C, manganese, folate and potassium.”

A serving of new season asparagus will provide 94% of your daily dose of folate, while mushrooms are rich in biotin and pantothenic acid, both of which are important B vitamins and help the body convert food into energy. Meanwhile, including fresh herbs in your diet will boost flavour and your health. “Add them to your lunchtime salad or as a garnish with your evening meal while they’re in plentiful supply,” Dudley says.

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