Summer is the wonderful season when it’s easy to stroll down to the farmer’s market on a weekend morning to find beautiful, locally grown fruits and vegetables. While not an exhaustive list, these are some of the healthiest and most delicious products the summer season has to offer. Taken together, this list provides ample amounts of important nutrients like vitamin C, beta-carotene, potassium, and antioxidants. Enjoy, and please leave a comment with some of your favorite summer produce:
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Raspberries have very little sugar for fruit, with 1 cup having only 5 grams of sugar compared to the 14 grams of sugar in a medium banana. Limiting sugar, even natural sugar, is important if you’re trying to lose weight and prevent chronic disease. Raspberries also boast 8 grams of fiber in that same 1 cup serving, along with vitamin C and high antioxidant activity. Vitamin C is important for collagen formation and helps support the immune system.
These less commonly eaten (but no less nutritious) greens are loaded with important nutrients like calcium and vitamins A and C. Collard greens also contain indole-3-carbinol, an important phytonutrient, that may help balance estrogen levels and prevent breast cancer. Sauté collard greens in olive oil or coconut oil with garlic and serve as a side dish. Alternatively, serve with poached eggs on top.
These juicy summer favorites are good sources of potassium and beta-carotene. Higher intakes of beta-carotene in your diet may help prevent lung cancer. The natural sweetness of peaches makes them a perfect dessert for a hot summer barbecue.
Red bell peppers
These flavorful and colorful vegetables contain beta-carotene and lutein, two powerful carotenoids. Lutein may help prevent age-related macular degeneration of the eye. Bell peppers also contain high levels of vitamin C, with 1 cup of chopped peppers providing more than two times the daily requirement of vitamin C. Add chopped bell peppers to salads or stir fries, eat them raw with hummus as a snack, or add to omelets and frittatas.
Local tomatoes are more nutrient rich than the anemic tomatoes that far distances during the winter months. Tomatoes that are homegrown or locally grown are usually picked at the peak of their ripeness, thereby maximizing nutrient and antioxidant content. This fruit is blessed with the phytonutrient lycopene, which may help prevent prostate cancer. Cooked tomatoes have even higher levels of lycopene than fresh tomatoes, as the lycopene concentrates while the water cooks off. Use fresh tomatoes in summer salads along with basil, or combine with cilantro and avocado for a healthy snack. Dress with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.