Summer is Ripe for Healthy Eating by Isabella Yzerman


 photo 1    tomatoberry_vine

You’ve heard it a million times (probably from your mother) – eat more fruits and veggies! Well, this time of year, there are no excuses not to fill half your plate with the rainbow of produce. Though you can purchae produce in cold-weather states like Michigan year round, what you are getting is produce that is grown thousands miles away and that can have a negative effect on not only the taste of your produce, but also its nutritional value.

During the spring, summer and autumn months, however, we can take advantage of the bounty of locally grown produce. The taste of these dietary staples, as they reach the peak of their ripeness, is unrivaled. That is why we decided to kick off this summer with a quick guide to the fruits and veggies that are optimal during this time of year. We all know how essential the second tier of the food pyramid is to our overall health, but here are some less well-known benefits to keep you feeling your best during the best time of the year.

Tomatoes

Tomatoes are one of the fruits containing the highest amount of lycopene. Lycopene has been linked with lower levels of cancers, especially prostate cancer.

Avocado

Whether eaten plain, spread on toast, or mixed in with scrambled eggs, avocados are one of the best ways to satisfy your body’s healthy fat needs. Avocados are considered to be a monounsaturated fat, the kind that’s good for you, and can lead to an overall lower body weight. 

Berries

Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries all have more in common than their shared suffixes. Berries have compounds that deter the natural decline of mental processes and help to preserve cognitive abilities during aging.

 

Cantaloupe

In addition to being key in fighting off dehydration cantaloupe is also full of antioxidants, especially zeaxanthin. Zeaxanthin has been linked reducing the risk for age-related macular degeneration, a condition that is the leading cause in the loss of vision.

 

Peaches

Eating just one sweet, juicy peach can benefit your bones, your nervous system, and your red blood cells. How? Peaches are storehouses for an impressive variety of minerals, including potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, copper, phosphorous, and manganese.

 

Watermelon

Not only does watermelon nearly taste too delicious to be good for you, but it is also comprised of about 92% water, making watermelon slices a hydrating, nutritious, and sweet snack to keep hydrated in the summer heat.

 

Cherries

Having trouble sleeping at night? Instead of adding melatonin pills to your nightly routine, try incorporating more cherries into your diet. Cherries are one of the rare natural sources of melatonin and can help you get those extra few hours of sleep needed to fuel your day.

 

Cucumber

Cucumbers have the highest water concentration of all fruits and veggies, adding up to about 96% water. They’re also easy to incorporate into your diet, whether in a salad, sandwich, or a wrap.

 

For those of you who want to experience a little more of what summertime produce has to offer, check out the following more adventurous fruits and herbs.

 

Basil

By inhibiting the same enzymes as anti-inflammatory medications, basil has anti-inflammatory health benefits for those suffering from the pain and swelling of arthritis. Basil is also noteworthy in its versatility; it can be added to nearly every dish! Try mixing some in with the some seasonally ripe tomatoes, either into a fresh tomato sauce or a mozzarella salad.

 

Figs

Don’t be misled by the sweetness and dessert-like qualities of figs. One serving of these pear-shaped fruits has about one quarter of your daily fiber needs, essential for healthy digestion and in curbing those unnecessary between-meal cravings.

 

Mint

Mint is incredibly beneficial for helping along healthy digestion as well as other stomach or bowel ailments. Mint also can relieve nausea. Try adding crushed up leaves to hot water to make refreshing homemade mint tea.

 

Key Limes

These small, yellow-green limes can be used for more than making delicious pies. They are also a great source of vitamin C, which is necessary for a healthy immune system, promotes youthful skin, and lowers risk for cardiovascular diseases and stroke.

 

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