Summer has many great benefits including a bountiful supply of fresh fruits and vegetables. The great part is that during the summer you can stock up on fruits and veggies in your own garden or at a local farmer’s market. I have compiled a list of the five summer foods that are good for your health. These foods may even have some hidden benefits that you didn’t even know about.
Watermelon is at the top of the list. Besides being very refreshing on a hot’s summer day, it also is a fruit that can provide you some added hydration. Did you know that watermelon is 92 percent water and packed with vitamins and minerals? In addition, it contains lycopene which provides anti-inflammatory properties.
Leafy greens, such as swiss chard, contain abundant amounts of phytonutrients providing antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Swiss chard also is a good source of fiber with more than 3.5 grams for 1 cup cooked. High fiber foods can help with blood sugar management. Swiss chard is a low calorie vegetable with-one cup having only 35 calories and 7 grams of carbohydrates.
Corn on the Cob
Fresh sweet corn is a popular summer side dish. Many people love the taste, yet another plus is that it contains two antioxidants that can be beneficial for eye health—lutein and zeaxanthin. It also is a good source of vitamins including folate, an essential nutrient and very important in pregnancy to avoid neuro-tube defects. Do you have high blood pressure? Corn on the cob also has potassium, which is important for controlling blood pressure.
Tomatoes are another essential food to add to your summer menu. While tomatoes are available year-round, they are most flavorful and more plentiful from July through September. The tomato provides lycopene which may help protect you from sunburns. In addition, this fruit, generally categorized as a vegetable, contains several important micronutrients including vitamin C, vitamin A, potassium, B6, folate, niacin, and vitamin E—all of which work together to keep us healthy.
Summer is a perfect time for fresh raspberries, blueberries and strawberries. You can eat them alone. add them to your favorite salad or create a healthy dessert with them. Any way you serve them, berries are an excellent source of vitamins and minerals. They also contain fiber, which can be beneficial for weight management. Berries provide a source of phytochemicals including anthocyanins and ellagic acid, which may help defend against heart disease and cancer.
Summer is a wonderful time to start incorporating new foods to put you on a healthier path.
Nickie Kaetzel is a registered dietitian nutritionist at Fisher-Titus Medical Center. For help in reaching your health and wellness goals, contact your primary care physician for a referral for outpatient nutrition counseling.