One of the best things about living on the French Riviera has to be exploring the outdoor markets for fresh, seasonal produce. Almost every town and village has an ever-changing variety of local fruits and vegetables to provide a constant source of inspiration for local chefs and foodies alike. So what’s on the stalls now and what are they good for?
Tomatoes are still plentiful at this time of year – even if we associate them more with the height of summer. They get their red colour from lycopene – an important antioxidant that helps protect men from prostate cancer and women from breast cancer and is effective against cardiovascular disease, macular degeneration and even premature aging of the skin.
Mushrooms are just beginning to appear. The more exotic ones have long been prized for their immune enhancing and anti-cancer qualities, but even the lowly white button mushroom contains a surprising amount of important nutrients. In particular, mushrooms are an excellent source of selenium – an important antioxidant that together with vitamin E helps guard our cells from the damaging and aging effects of free radicals.
Beetroot – you either love it or you don’t. If you love it you’re in luck because it raises the level of antioxidant enzymes in the body, (specifically one called glutathione peroxidase), as well as increase the number of white blood cells, which are responsible for detecting and eliminating abnormal cells – like those that can lead to cancer. Beets are also one of the richest sources of glutamine, an amino acid, essential to the health and maintenance of the intestinal tract.
Carrots – your mother always told you – they improve your vision! That’s because carrots are rich in beta-carotene, which is converted to vitamin A in the liver. The retina of the eye needs vitamin A to function. In the retina, vitamin A is transformed into rhodopsin, a purple pigment that necessary for night vision. Night blindness is one of the first signs that you might be lacking in vitamin A. In addition, beta-carotene help protect against macular degeneration and the development of senile cataracts.
Apples – the humble apple is a nutritional powerhouse and quite low in sugar – as long as you eat them, not drink their juice! Apples (especially their skins) contain a powerful antioxidant flavonoid called quercetin, which has more than 30 known functions in your body. Since quercetin needs the help of intestinal flora to become bioavailable, apples are the perfect way to consume it as the apple’s own plant fibre and pectin support good intestinal flora. Quercetin also controls inflammation, inhibits growth factors common to many cancers, and helps express tumor suppressor genes.
Red cabbage – While the green variety is the most commonly eaten kind of cabbage, we highly recommend trying red cabbage because of it added nutritional benefits and its robust hearty flavor. The rich red color of red cabbage reflects it concentration of anthocyanin polyphenols, which contribute to red cabbage containing significantly more anti-inflammatory and protective phytonutrients than green cabbage.
So get down to your local market and discover the best that the late summer and autumn have to offer. Remember that natural foods almost always influence multiple systems and functions at once. And that’s why food should always be your medicine!
Discover some of our soup recipes for Autumn: