Green Your Pick-Me-Up: 5 Energy-Boosting Foods
You could chug some coffee, but if caffeine’s not your thing, an afternoon snack might deliver just the jolt you need. But rather than reaching for the candy bar stashed in your drawer, try noshing on these all-natural energy boosters. Look for seasonal, locally grown options for an eco-friendly pick-me-up. We suggest a few specific produce items below, but note that seasonality and availability will vary according to region. Check out Field to Plate's Seasonal Lookup Guide to check the availability of fresh produce where you live.
1. Berries burst with energizing complex carbohydrates and filling fiber. These plump morsels also pack a punch of vitamin C and other antioxidants, which help protect cells against disease-causing free radicals. In a study published last April, Harvard University researchers found that over time, a high consumption of berries rich in the antioxidant flavonoid—such as strawberries and blueberries—can delay memory decline in older women by up to two and a half years.
For those seeking some food for thought, blueberry season just began and lasts until late summer. Strawberry season runs from January through November, but peak season falls between April and June. Cherry season just started and runs from early May to mid-August.
Oranges and lemons are available year-round, while nectarine season lasts from May to November. Kumquat season and tangerine season ended in April but begins again in October.
3. Low iron intake could lead to sluggishness and fatigue. Broccoli, arugula, and other dark, leafy greens are full of iron, a vital nutrient involved in biological reactions that produce energy. They're also rich in vitamin C and other antioxidants, as well as fiber.
Broccoli, arugula, collards, chard, spinach, and kale are available year-round. Dip some broccoli in hummus for a simple, healthy snack, or whip up a zesty kale salad.
4. Nuts and seeds are packed with protein, which fuels your body to repair and build tissue. Since protein takes longer than carbohydrates to break down, nuts offer long-lasting energy. They’re also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which studies have shown to lower the risk of heart disease and help improve memory.
Nuts are typically in season during the fall months, although walnut season, which began in November, lasts until June. Almond season begins in August and lasts until November. Watermelon seeds, along with the fruit, are in season from April to November, with peak production in May through August.
5. There's a reason why honey sticks make a perfect workout snack. The glucose in honey supplies a quick burst of energy, while the fructose takes longer to break down, providing sustained energy. Opt for darker-colored honey, which contains more antioxidants. Although less processed than table sugar, honey still contains the sweet stuff, so use sparingly. Drizzle onto yogurt or oatmeal, or stir into tea. Beekeepers typically harvest honey in late summer.
Melissa Pandika is an editorial intern at Sierra and a graduate journalism student at Stanford University. Her interests include environmental health and justice, urban environmental issues, and conservation biology. She has a soft spot for cetaceans.