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15 Spring Players That Lead Secret Lives As Superfoods

Quick! What's a superfood? Maybe blueberries, kale, and avocados come to mind? But what about asparagus, artichokes, and fennel? Yep, they're nutritionally dense superfoods, too. Now that fresh springtime produce is cropping up, we're unmasking 15 top seasonal favorites that are superfoods in disguise. Some will be familiar, and some might be new to you. Every pick includes recipes to help you enjoy them at their best.

15 Surprising Spring Superfoods to Try

1. Artichokes

Raw Artichoke and Cross Section

Raw Artichoke and Cross Section | Photo by Meredith

Superfood Superpowers

When it comes to antioxidants, artichokes outrank many other foods we usually think of first, such as blueberries and dark chocolate. Artichokes are high in fiber and folic acid, they can soothe an upset tummy, and help lower "bad" LDL cholesterol. They also support brain, liver, and bone health, and help balance blood pressure.

Favorite Fixes

Artichokes

Artichokes | Photo by Nanby


2. Arugula

Arugula

Arugula | Photo by Meredith

Superfood Superpowers

Aka "rocket," this spicy green is rich in cancer-fighting phytochemicals, as well as folic acid, vitamins A and C, and ranks way up there for vitamin K. Ounce for ounce, arugula delivers more calcium than spinach.

Favorite Fixes

Arugula and Hummus Mini Pizzas

Arugula and Hummus Mini Pizzas |  Photo by Kim's Cooking Now!


3. Asparagus

Asparagus

Asparagus | Photo by Meredith

Superfood Superpowers

These harbingers of spring pack plenty of fiber and vitamins A, C, E, and K, along with a powerful detoxifying compound called glutathione that helps break down carcinogens. Eating plenty of asparagus could help you stay mentally sharper as you age, and you might even avoid vicious hangovers. And that whole thing about asparagus making your pee smell bad? It's all down to a harmless sulfuric compound.

Favorite Fixes

Roasted Asparagus and Mushrooms

Roasted Asparagus and Mushrooms | Photo by CookinBug


4. Broccoli Rabe

Broccoli Rabe

Broccoli Rabe | Photo by Meredith

Superfood Superpowers

A cross between broccoli and Chinese kale, this leafy hybrid vegetable also goes by a host of other names, including broccoli raab, rapini and Chinese broccoli. Eat the stems, leaves, and florets to get a solid dose of antioxidants and vitamins C, K, and A.

Favorite Fixes

Paleo Broccoli Rabe and Sausage

Paleo Broccoli Rabe and Sausage|  Photo by Mangia Paleo


5. Fava Beans

Fava Bean

Fava Beans | Photo by Meredith

Superfood Superpowers

Also knows as broad beans, favas are high in protein to keep you strong, and fiber to keep your cholesterol in check. Along with an alphabet of vitamins, fava beans contain a substance called L-dopa, associated with supporting muscle function.

Favorite Fixes

Green Risotto with Fava Beans

Green Risotto with Fava Beans | Photo by Rachel Monfredo


6. Fennel

Fennel

Fennel | Photo by Meredith

Superfood Superpowers

Anise-scented fennel bulb has been useful in the kitchen and for medicinal purposes since ancient times. High in fiber and potassium to keep your heart going strong, it also contains an aromatic essential oil called anethole that's proven to fight fungus and bacteria.

Favorite Fixes

Spring Salad with Fennel and Orange

Spring Salad with Fennel and Orange | Photo by Sunnybyrd


7. Leeks

Leeks

Leeks | Photo by Meredith

Superfood Superpowers

Leeks share the antioxidant properties of the rest of its allium genus (think garlic, onions, etc.) as well as heart- and liver-friendly enzymes.

 

Favorite Fixes


8. Nettles

Stinging Nettles

Stinging Nettles | Photo by Meredith

Superfood Superpowers

One person's weed is another person's cup of tea. Such is the case with nettles. Full of a range of vitamins, plus calcium for bone health, nettles are also used to detoxify your body and even soothe premenstrual discomfort.

Favorite Fixes

Stinging Nettle Soup

Stinging Nettle Soup | Photo by Shannon Angel Henszel


9. Peas

Peas

Peas Photo by Meredith

Superfood Superpowers

English peas, snow peas, and sugar snap peas may be different in form and flavor, but they're all excellent sources of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Eat your peas for healthy bones and balanced cholesterol.

Favorite Fixes

Sugar Snap Peas with Mint

Sugar Snap Peas with Mint | Photo by mommyluvs2cook


10. Purslane

Purslane

Purslane | Photo by Meredith

Superfood Superpowers

This tiny, lemony succulent grows like a weed and packs more omega-3 fatty acids than some fish oils. It's also an excellent source of vitamin A, rivaling many green leafy vegetables.

Favorite Fixes

Authentic Lebanese Fattoush

Authentic Lebanese Fattoush | Photo by MissFahrari


11. Radishes

Radishes

Radishes | Photo by Meredith

Superfood Superpowers

Sharp, peppery radishes come in lots of colors and sizes, from tiny globes to giant white daikons. Vitamin C: check. Antioxidants: check. Folates, minerals, detoxifying agents: check, check, and check.

Favorite Fixes

Roasted Radishes

Roasted Radishes | Photo by Deeli


12. Ramps

Ramps

Ramps | Photo by Meredith

Superfood Superpowers

Also known as wild leeks, this member of the allium family is loaded with vitamin A for healthy teeth, bones, and skin. Ramps have antioxidant vitamin C, plus selenium and chromium. They're not around long, so grab them up when you see them.

Favorite Fixes

Ramp Potatoes

Ramp Potatoes | Photo by KGora


13. Rhubarb

Rhubarb

Rhubarb | Photo by Meredith

Superfood Superpowers

These super-tart stalks carry loads of vitamins A and K, as well as B-complex vitamins. The gorgeously ruffled leaves are not edible, just in case you were wondering.

Favorite Fixes

Aunt Norma's Rhubarb Muffins

Aunt Norma's Rhubarb Muffins | Photo by foodelicious


14. Romanesco

Romanesco

Romanesco | Photo by Meredith

Superfood Superpowers

When cauliflower marries broccoli, gorgeous romanesco happens. Its flavor is more cauliflower-like, but a bit nuttier. Like its parents, romanesco carries a full range of good-for-you properties like vitamins A, C, and K, plus folate, fiber, and antioxidants. And it looks like it came from outer space.

Favorite Fixes

Roasted Romanesco

Roasted Romanesco | Photo by fireflyrebel


15. Strawberries

Strawberries

Strawberries | Photo by Meredith

Superfood Superpowers

Low-cal, low-carb strawberries fight inflammation and deliver a big dose of vitamins A, C, and E. Antioxidants? Strawberries have plenty. BTW, Strawberries dipped in dark chocolate gives you a double dose of antioxidants.

Favorite Fixes

Strawberry and Spinach Salad with Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette

Strawberry and Spinach Salad with Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette | Photo by MyHotSouthernMess

Find more recipes for strawberries, and discover the simple trick that helps fresh berries stay fresh longer.


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Vanessa Greaves

About Vanessa Greaves

Good food, friends, and fun are always on the menu. Find me as foodelicious on Allrecipes and vanny.gee on Instagram (but only if you don't mind cat pics and cocktails).