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Spring greens can make a healthy tonic

Published 10:42am Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A Spring Tonic, using the early greens of spring, may be just the thing you need to get through this month.  Not only are spring greens beneficial to your health, but so are the other spring fruits and vegetables you can find at the market this week.  Let’s take a look at some of these:

Spring Greens/Lettuce:   The early settlers were firm believers in the tonic effects of eating spring greens: they were said to stimulate the digestion, purify the blood, cure scurvy and ague, combat rheumatism, and repel kidney stones.  The health benefits of eating leafy greens can’t be overemphasized. Salad greens are loaded with vitamins A and C, as well as several of the B vitamins. Just one cup of these greens provides 70 percent of the daily recommended intake for vitamin A and 20 percent of the DRI for vitamin C. Salad greens are also a rich source of iron and calcium and numerous trace minerals including magnesium, phosphorus and potassium.

Rhubarb, or pieplant, was widely regarded as a fine spring tonic to aid the blood and the digestive system.  Cooked and stewed rhubarb was called “spring fruit” in early cookbooks.  Rhubarb appears to look like red celery but has large leaves and is actually considered to be a member of the fruit family. The stem of the rhubarb plant is usually cooked and used in desserts, such as pie, but it can be eaten raw as well. One cup of rhubarb supplies 105 mg of calcium, which is about 10 percent of the 1,000 mg of calcium average adults need in their daily diet. Another notable vitamin in rhubarb is vitamin K. Your diet should include sufficient amounts of vitamin K because this nutrient helps form blood clots when you are injured.  Note: Only eat rhubarb stalks. Do not eat the leaves, as they contain high levels of oxalic acid, which is toxic in high doses.

Spring onions were grown in Chinese gardens 5000 years ago. Do you know the onion bulb was worshipped as the symbol of the universe by ancient Egyptians? Nutritionally, green onions have a combination of the benefits of onions and greens. They are an excellent source of vitamin K and vitamin C, and a very good source of vitamin A too.

Shop healthy, shop local

The Austin Area Farmers’ Market is open 3:30 to 6 p.m. Thursdays, downtown on Main Street, 3:30 to 6 p.m Mondays at the Oak Park Mall and 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Saturdays, at Oak Park Mall.  We accept all major credit cards and EBT.

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