One of the highlights of summer is the abundance of in-season fruits and vegetables. This is the time of year when grocery stores, local farms and backyard gardens offer a wide variety of delicious and good-for-you options.
Though the CDC currently states there is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with foods, you should always thoroughly wash raw fruits and vegetables before eating. For the latest information and other food safety guidance, check out this CDC website page.
Remember, a diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables provides important health benefits. They supply you with a variety of vitamins and minerals to power up your immune system and protect you from an abundance of health issues.
Below are some of the best food choices to make to get the most from your summertime table treats.
Tomatoes are a good source of vitamins A, C and E as well as folate and potassium. And in addition to being packed full of vitamins and minerals, studies also have found tomatoes may be antioxidant, antithrombotic, anti-inflammatory and, potentially, anti-cancer powerhouses. They’re also known to have heart-protective qualities too.
Refreshing, juicy watermelon is one of the most-hydrating summer foods. Not only that, but it’s pretty red hue means it's a concentrated source of lycopene – the same heart-protective compound found in tomatoes.
Whether you want an easy snack, salad addition or chip substitute, cucumbers are a great summer choice. Packed with water and high in fiber, they are a great source of beta-carotene, potassium, magnesium and silica, as well as vitamins C, K and B5, which means they may help lower blood pressure, keep your body's connective tissues healthy and help keep your skin hydrated.
All those seeds mean most berries are high in fiber (1 cup of raspberries has 8 grams, while 1 cup of blueberries has 4 grams). Plus, they're low in sugar and calories, but their divine flavor makes them a treat to be savored. Enjoy them in smoothies, with yogurt and granola, or simply eat them on their own
Creamy avocados are full of fat, but don't avoid them because of this. Yes, one half of an avocado contains 15 grams of unsaturated fat, but it's good fat – monounsaturated fat. Monounsaturated fats (MUFAs) have been found to help improve cholesterol levels as well as reduce the risk of developing heart disease. And researchers have also found an association between a diet rich in MUFAs and better blood sugar control.
- Iced Tea
Tea has so many health benefits, and iced tea is no exception. Both green and black tea pack serious amounts of disease-fighting antioxidants, but green tea has the added bonus of offering a small amount of sun protection to your skin. Brew it yourself to control the sweetness and flavor.
Summer begs for stove-free preparation methods, and salad is one of the easiest, healthiest no-cook meals you can make. Get creative with the ingredients: All fruits and vegetables add to flavor and health benefits. Add a little lean protein to turn a side salad into a complete meal.
- Bell Peppers
Bell peppers make a colorful addition to a snack, salad or meal, but there's more to this crunchy fruit (yep, technically a fruit, not a vegetable) than meets the eye. Sweet bell peppers are low in calories and high in vitamins. One-half of a cup of green, red or yellow bell peppers contains more than 230 percent of your recommended daily vitamin C intake, and only 20 calories!
There's no need to feel bad about enjoying corn on the cob – it's healthier than you think. This starchy vegetable delivers lutein and zeaxanthin, two nutrients that are important for eye health. One ear has 60 calories, 2 grams of fiber and tons of summertime flavor.
These nine delicious options are just the tip of the iceberg (lettuce, another great option) when it comes to the amazing selection of fruits and vegetables we enjoy during the summer months. Take advantage of the season and stay well.