TOP 5 SUPERFOODS FOR THE SUMMER SEASON

At Start2Finish we believe in wholesome wellness. Part of that wellness is investing in your body and what you eat. Superfoods provide you with the energy to do what you want to do from gardening to spending time with family to volunteering

Fresh, powerful and available locally, these superfoods are making appearances at farmers' markets, grocery stores - and in some cases your own backyard.

Trees and flowers aren't the only things popping this time of year. Local superfoods are now making long-awaited appearances at farmers' markets, grocery stores – and in some cases your own backyard.

Julie Daniluk, a Toronto-based registered nutritionist, health educator, writer and TV personality is a big believer in the ability of food to maximize health – and the more seasonal it is the better.

Here are her top five superfoods this season:

1) Asparagus:

"This is one of my favourite foods in the whole world," says Julie.

Asparagus, she explains, doesn't require the level of pesticides many other veggies do. It's also loaded with Vitamin B, which supports proper brain and liver function and helps detoxify the liver. It's a great source of potassium too.

"That's really important for the Zoomer crowd because it ensures we can keep our blood pressure at a correct level. While sodium elevates blood pressure, potassium lowers it."

Asparagus is also an excellent source of Vitamin K, which Julie says provides good bone support and when paired with Vitamin D can help prevent osteoporosis.

2) Dandelions:

Most people look at dandelions as the enemy, but Julie suggests you instead embrace them for their powerful health benefits.

"Dandelions have been extremely popular in Europe for years, especially in Italy, but here people look at me weirdly when I talk about plucking these yellow flowers out of my backyard." The entire plant – flowers, leaves and roots – is edible, she says.

The leaves are strongly diuretic so they can help improve and promote men's urine flow. They can also reduce fluid retention which can lead to weight loss.

The flowers can be eaten in salads (and have traditionally been used to make wine) and the roots used to make a drinkable tea that's a great replacement for coffee and helps to support liver function, says Julie.

But be sure to avoid picking dandelions from areas that have been fertilized with chemicals or sprayed with pesticides. "If you see a thousand dandelions in an open field, there's a good chance the soil has not been tampered with," she says. And it's always a good idea to talk to your health care provider to ensure there won't be any interactions with any prescription drugs you're taking.

3) Strawberries:

This delicious local fruit is a far cry from the woody versions imported from Mexico or the U.S.

Not only do they taste great, but they pack a powerful anti-oxidant punch, says Julie.

One cup of strawberries provides 75 percent of the recommended daily intake of Vitamin C, which she says is critical for collagen synthesis. (Think plump skin.) "Collagen is what keeps us looking young, but it drops off after the age of 21."

Strawberries are also high in alpha hydroxy acid, which rejuvenates the skin, and they're a great exfoliant. So the next time you make strawberry jam, Julie suggest rubbing some crushed berries on your face, but before you add any sweetener.

And speaking of sweetener, Julie recommends adding honey instead of sugar to make that jam. 

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