August’s Lucky 7

You’re in luck, here’s what’s coming in season this month:

BELL PEPPERS

These sweet peppers come in a variety of colors but all offer the same nutrition.  Green bell peppers are the immature fruit no matter if the ripened color is yellow, red, orange or purple.  Bell peppers contain vitamins A, B-6, B-9, C and E; minerals iron, manganese and potassium and lots of carotenes.

CANTALOUPE

Cantaloupe, also known as muskmelon, offers a boat load of various carotenes.  They also provide vitamins A, B-6, B-9 and C and the minerals copper and potassium.  To select a perfectly ripened cantaloupe, follow these sensory rules:

  • Look: Check the shell for bruises, holes or gashes
  • Smell: It should have the faint scent of the sweet fruit within
  • Listen: Knock on it gently, it should have a slightly hollow sound
  • Touch: With thumb, gently press on stem end, it should give slightly but not be soft

EGGPLANT

The eggplant can either be oval or elongated.  Most eggplant, otherwise known as aubergine, is purple but some varieties can come in white or variegated.  In addition to plenty of fiber, eggplant provides anthocyanins, pantothenic acid, pyridoxine, potassium, copper and manganese.

FIGS

These exotic, yummy gems have short seasons outside the Mediterranean.  So, get them now while you can.  But rest assured, they pack plenty of nutrition even in their dried forms.  You can expect the following, no matter the form in which you consume your figs: fiber, vitamins A, B-1, B-5, B-6, potassium, copper, iron, manganese and flavonoids including tannins and chlorogenic acid.

GRAPES

These kid-friendly, sweet fruits have pyridoxine, riboflavin, thiamin, copper and vitamins C and K.  All grapes, no matter their color, contain powerful resveratrol.  Red and purple grapes offer anthocyanin while the green variety has catechin.

GREEN BEANS

Most people think of green beans, or snap beans, as vegetables but, as their name suggests, they’re actually legumes.  As such, they have more protein than many vegetables.  French beans are virtually the same genetically but they’re narrower and more tender than the average American garden green bean.  Green beans sport fiber; vitamins A, K and much of the B-complex; minerals iron, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium; and the phytonutrient zeaxanthin.

KIWI

These semi-tropical fruits appear rather homely on the outside but offer beauty and nutrition within.  In addition to plenty of fiber, kiwis have vitamins B-9, C, E and K; minerals potassium and copper and lots of carotenes.  Their edible seeds have omega 3 fatty acids.  And, recent studies of the kiwi fruit have revealed they contain unique chemicals that have the same anti-clotting properties as aspirin.  Meaning, they could be helpful in protecting against stroke and heart attacks.

See the list below to learn how the nutrients contained in these seven, wonderful foods help you to be fit and happier:


Vitamins

Vitamin A: Antioxidant promotes immunity function and eye, skin & red blood cell health (fat-soluble)

Vitamin B-1 (Thiamin): Promotes brain function, regulates energy levels

Vitamin B-2 (Riboflavin): Aids energy production

Vitamin B-3 (Niacin): Promotes blood health, regulates cholesterol

Vitamin B-5 (Pantothenic Acid): Promotes healthy hormone response

Vitamin B-6 (Pyridoxine): Promotes healthy blood vessels

Vitamin B-9 (Folate): Necessary for healthy blood cells & fetal development

Vitamin C: Antioxidant that boosts immunity

Vitamin E: Antioxidant promotes healthy skin & eyes and boosts immunity (fat soluble)

Vitamin K: Important in protein absorption for healthy blood and bones (fat-soluble)

Minerals

Copper: Antioxidant promotes healthy blood and eye, brain, skin and bone tissue

Iron: Antioxidant necessary for blood health

Magnesium:  Electrolyte for nerve function and heart & blood glucose regulation

Manganese: Antioxidant important in bone health and blood sugar regulation

Phosphorus: Promotes healthy bones, digestion and hormone regulation

Potassium: An electrolyte that assists in controlling blood pressure

Other Nutrients & Nutrient Types

Antioxidants: Class of nutrients that reduce inflammation and repair cell damage by absorbing free radicals throughout the body.  Free radicals are released (oxidized) when cells are damaged due to poor nutrition, sedentary lifestyles, inhaling or ingesting pollutants and toxins, sun damage, the aging process and infections from viruses, bacteria and fungi.  The cell damage also causes inflammation.

Electrolytes: Ions (electrically charged molecules) that exist in all bodily fluids; necessary to maintain cell balance

Fat-Soluble Vitamins: Vitamins A, D, E & K need to be consumed with dietary fats in order to be absorbed by the body.  Once absorbed, they’re metabolized slowly and, therefore, last longer in body’s systems.  All other vitamins are water-soluble, readily absorbed and metabolized quickly and, therefore, need to be replenished daily.

Fiber: Technically not a nutrient but essential for digestive health & an aid in weight control

Omega 3 Fatty Acids: Polyunsaturated fats that fight inflammation.

Phytochemicals/Phytonutrients: Powerful antioxidants found in small amounts in most plant-based foods.  Over 25,000 individual phytonutrients have been identified thus far and many are sub-divided into categories such as phytoestrogens, carotenes and polyphenolics.  The largest category of phytochemicals are known as flavonoids.  Here are some examples of phytonutrients, sub-category (if applicable) and the specific area of the body they benefit:

  • Anthocyanin: anti-allergy, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial
  • Carotene (Alpha & Beta): convert to vitamin A; anti-aging & eye health
  • Catechins: flavonoid showing anti-cancer promise
  • Chlorogenic Acid: helps regulate blood glucose
  • Cryptoxanthin: anti-inflammatory carotene
  • Epicatechin: flavonoid may lessen risk for heart disease, diabetes & cancer
  • Flavonol: heart & respiratory anti-inflammatory flavonoid
  • Lutein: carotene for eye health
  • Resveratrol: anti-inflammatory flavonoid
  • Tannins: heart health
  • Zeaxanthin: carotene for eye health

Sources: visualnews.com, wisebread.com, nutrition-and-you.com, Harvard.edu, webMD

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