Berries: All berries are nutrition heavy weights, packing plenty of satiating digestive aids (fiber) and disease-fighting cell boosters (antioxidants) in small, low-calorie packages. Strawberries are sunsetting at the moment, but two others are in season right now:
- Blueberries: Their beautiful, bright hues give clues to the nutrition contained within. In addition to fiber and antioxidants (vitamin C), blueberries help with protein absorption (vitamin K) and healthy bones (manganese).
- Raspberries: Raspberries contain a triple punch of antioxidants offering vitamins A, C and E. Like blueberries, they pack plenty of fiber and manganese. They also contain copper which aids iron in promoting healthy blood.
Stone Fruits: Pitted fruits like cherries and nectarines are considered stone fruits. They’re naturally sweet, juicy and so delicious. Consume with their peels to take advantage of their fiber content. They also pack the antioxidants vitamins A and C. They have a short harvest season and are difficult to find out of season, so get them while you can and consume in abundance. Once the season is over, you’ll have to wait another year to indulge again. Cherries are ending their harvest but these are prime for eating now:
- Apricots: This delicate stone fruit also contains potassium, an electrolyte known to help regulate blood pressure, and copper.
- Peaches: These juicy gems are nutrition powerhouses. In addition to the fiber and vitamins A and C contained in other stone fruits, peaches have a third antioxidant, vitamin E, as well as vitamin K, copper and manganese. They promote bone health (calcium), blood health (iron), skin health and healing (zinc). As if that weren’t enough, peaches also contain phosphorous and magnesium which both provide benefits to numerous systems in the body, including blood pressure regulation, enzyme function, hormone balance, cell repair, and nerve, blood and bone health.
- Plums: Sweet-tart plums contain fiber, potassium, iron and vitamins A and C.
- Corn: Sweet corn on the cob is a summertime favorite for the young and old alike. Corn is a food hybrid in that it fulfills the definition of both a vegetable and a grain. Indeed, ground corn is a healthy whole grain and eating whole kernels, whether off the cob or popped, packs a terrific amount of fiber for digestive health. Corn contains B vitamins common in other grains, such as thiamin (B-1), which aids the body in utilizing carbohydrates for energy, and folate (B-9), which promotes blood health and is essential for fetal development. Yet corn has other nutrients in common with its veggie cousins, such as antioxidants like vitamin C.
- Cucumbers: The flesh of cukes are mostly water but do contain antioxidants (vitamins A and C) and folate. But the skin is where it’s at for cucumbers. Eat these vine veggies with the skin on and you’ll score fiber, potassium and magnesium. Cuke skins also contain silica, needed in connective tissue throughout the body, and molybdenum, which promotes enzyme function.
- Summer Squash: Comma-shaped, yellow squash contain many of the nutrients common in berries and stone fruits, such as fiber, potassium, manganese, magnesium, phosphorous and vitamins A and C. But they also offer the B vitamins riboflavin (B-2), folate (B-9) and B-6. Riboflavin and vitamin B-6 help to boost energy levels.
- Tomatoes: There’s nothing quite like a tomato eaten fresh off the vine. Take advantage of it while you can and benefit from the folate and antioxidants (vitamins A and C) they contain. Tomatoes also contain lycopene, believed to be a cancer-fighting antioxidant. What’s notable about lycopene in tomatoes is it becomes more concentrated when the tomatoes are cooked. A rare instance in which a nutrient is more prevalent in a food when cooked as compared to raw. My advice – enjoy them raw in season, a short-lived treat, and consume them cooked the rest of the year.
- Watermelon: Like corn on the cob, watermelon is synonymous with summer. Fitting, given how much cooling, refreshing water they contain. But there’s more to this ruby-colored melon than water. Watermelon packs fiber, lycopene and vitamins A, B-6 and C.
An important reminder that several vitamins and nutrients, like lycopene and vitamins A, D, E and K, are fat-soluble. Which means they need the presence of dietary fat in order to be absorbed by the body. So try to consume these awesome summer fruits and veggies as part of a meal or snack that contains healthy fats. Examples are nuts, seeds, olive oil, coconut, avocado, beans, dairy (not fat-free), whole eggs, fish and unprocessed meats.
Click here to see my recipes utilizing most of the summer produce highlighted in this post. Happy summer!
Sources: share.com, fitday.com, livescience.com, healthcastle.com, whfoods.com, wisebread.com