Healthy Ingredients

The health benefits of seasonal food

We often talk at Liz Earle Wellbeing about the need to opt for organic, seasonal ingredients where possible. But what’s all the fuss about?

To find out more, we caught up with Toby Geneen, the co-founder and co-head chef at Kindling Restaurant. Here, Toby reveals some of the fascinating health benefits of eating seasonally.

The health benefits of seasonal food

When it comes to trying new recipes, taste is often our main priority. This is where, as Toby explains, seasonal ingredients come into their own.

“When you choose ingredients that are naturally in season, you will get fresher, sweeter produce that tastes better,” he says. “Nothing compares to the taste of tomatoes grown outdoors and ripened in the late August sunshine.

“Fragrant, sweet and juicy, these tomatoes taste of tomato and need nothing more than some salt and pepper to sing on the plate – a far cry from the red bullets that are imported in December.”

Along with good flavours, eating in season ensures you’re getting the most out of your food. Often, imported produce is picked well before it’s ripe, changing its nutritional profile. Plus, the longer fruit or veg has been picked, the more its wellbeing benefits start to diminish.

“Imported food is kept refrigerated for long periods of time and doesn’t develop the same levels of nutrients as food that is allowed to ripen in situ,” explains Toby. “Seasonal food has a higher nutritional value because it is consumed riper and closer to the time of harvest, while food that is transported and stored for long periods rapidly loses antioxidants such as vitamin C, diminishing its health benefits.”

Good for you, and the planet

You may have noticed that you feel less drawn towards stews and soups in summer, and shy away from salads in winter. As Toby explains, there’s good reason for this.

“Seasonal food supports what your body needs,” he says. “Summer foods, such as tomatoes and stone fruits, contain high levels of carotenoids, which help protect us against sun damage.

“Summer vegetables are also naturally lighter and have a higher water content helping us to stay cool and hydrated. By contrast winter veggies tend to be rich in starches. These help to provide the extra energy we need to stay warm in the colder months.”

Opting for seasonal produce is one way to help you feel more in balance with the world around you. When out food shopping, try to buy as local as you can. Over time, you’ll have a greater understanding for what’s in season and when, allowing you to create delicious seasonal dishes. In need of some inspiration? Head to our recipe section here.

Plus, not only is seasonal food good for you, it benefits the planet too.

“Using produce that’s grown in the UK also reduces the number of ‘food miles’ and brings down your carbon footprint,” explains Toby. “There is less transportation, refrigeration, and fewer hot houses, all of which helps to reduce air pollution.

“Not only is it environmentally friendly, using seasonal produce supports regional farms and communities, helping to grow the local economy.”

Looking to go organic? Read our tips here on how to save on your shop

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