By Molly Dunn
As flowers blossom and the leaves on trees grow fuller and brighter with the rising temperatures, the season begins its transition to springtime.
And with this transition comes many fruits and vegetables that are now in season.
Regina Mastin, registered dietician at Baylor’s Counseling Center, explained the different types of fresh fruits and vegetables readily available during the spring season.
“You have more choices other than oranges, apples and bananas,” Mastin said.
“You have a lot of opportunity for the berries which are full of antioxidants. Strawberries, blackberries and blueberries.”
As more fruits and vegetables come available during this season, students look to incorporate them into their diets to receive added health benefits.
Lori Genous, director for Baylor’s department of wellness, said adding fresh fruits is an excellent way to incorporate more nutrients into someone’s diet.
“I like fruits because you can just eat them all the time. You can eat them as a snack. If you want to have it in the morning over cereal or oatmeal, that’s always a good way to get in your daily allowance of fruit,” Genous said.
When choosing which fruits and vegetables to eat more often, the ones with brighter and deeper colors are nutritionally best for the body.
“The deeper the color is, the better it is,” Mastin said. “A regular potato is pretty good, it has fiber, it has B vitamins in it, but a sweet potato, because it has more color in it, is going to have more of the beta carotene. It’s going to have more nutrients.”
Bekka Limon, senior peer nutrition educator at the McLane Student Life Center, suggested students look for brighter colors when buying produce.
“Some of the things like peaches, grapefruit, tomatoes, watermelon and blueberries are what is getting ready to come out,” Limon said. “Like all the fresh, really bright oranges and pinks and reds that you see in fruits, that what’s going to start being really good.”
Mastin encourages more students to carry produce, whether it is fresh or dried, with them throughout the day as a snack.
“Being prepared and having those things on you, carrying an orange, or grabbing a piece of fruit before you leave the dining hall, those always help,” Mastin said.
Not only can fresh fruits and vegetables be incorporated through snacks, but also in regular meals.
“Always having a salad is good, especially before a meal because it kind of curbs what you’re going to eat as far as the main dish,” Genous said.
“It’s always good to do that either with lunch or dinner and sometimes salads are a meal in and of themselves.”
Limon said some people have a problem with little variation in their diets, and one of the best ways to fix this problem is through the addition of fruits and vegetables to ordinary meals.
“One of the ways I try to have fruits in the dinner setting is like incorporating it in a salad,” Limon said. “Even if it is dried cranberries or cutting up a few slices of strawberries, or even peaches. Instead of having a savory salad, you can have a little bit of sweet. It makes the salad less boring.”
Following the dietary guidelines by incorporating more fruits and vegetables into a diet is important to the health of Americans.
“The average person needs about two cups of fruit and two and a half cups of vegetables a day,” Mastin said. “We do know that as a whole Americans don’t come close to that, so we can work really hard on making an improvement there.”
This improvement can be easy for students especially, because fresh produce that is in season is cheap in comparison to out of season produce.
“It’s always best to spend 25 percent of your grocery budget in the fresh produce section,” Mastin said. “That way you’ll be sure to get some of those things that you need.”
Students can utilize the website www.picktexas.com to see by month or by product which fruits and vegetables are in season that are grown in Texas.
“Since we’re in March, some of the things that are really common to eat are like broccoli, carrots, celery and oranges,” Limon said.
“The thing about the website is that it tells you all those fruits and vegetables are in season, so that’s when it is going to taste the best.”