Ah, summertime – the season of warm days, amazing getaways, and dinners highlighted by some of the tastiest, healthiest foods around!
Summer is the peak season for finding fresh fruits, vegetables, and other delicious and nutritious produce all around you. That also makes summer the perfect time to introduce a few of these nutrient-rich foods, sometimes called “superfoods,” into your healthful eating routine!
And despite the name, superfoods don’t have to be “super” expensive! In fact, many of the most vitamin- and nutrient-packed options out there are extremely accessible, and are waiting for you at your local grocery store or farmer’s market right now.
Here are five healthy and delicious foods worth adding to your summer diet!
Blueberries Are Full of Antioxidants
Blueberries are a staple of many picnics and summer meals. But there are probably a few things you don’t know about this flavor-packed fruit and its amazing nutritional properties.
For one thing, blueberries may be small, but they’re mighty where it counts, particularly when it comes to antioxidants. Blueberries are uniquely rich in healthy antioxidants, which help your body fight back against damaging free radicals.
According to WebMD, blueberries “rank the highest of any fruit for antioxidants.” Even better, one cup of blueberries also “delivers 14% of the recommended daily dose of fiber and nearly a quarter of the recommended daily intake of vitamin C.”
And did you know? July is “National Blueberry Month” which makes the summer a great time to indulge in a handful of tart, nutritious berries! Once you’re tired of eating them all on their own (if that day comes), you can work blueberries into a summer fruit salad, a morning blueberry-chia seed smoothie, and other easy recipes.
Beets Can Help Boost Your Immune System
After filling up on comfort foods during cold winter months, it may be time for a detox.
Eating beets can be a simple and enjoyable way to clean out your system. You see, the betalin pigments in beets can help support your body’s natural detoxification processes, helping to purify both your liver and blood. So that’s two birds with one… beet?
Beets are also rich in nutrients that can help boost your immune system, and come packed full of vitamin C, manganese, and potassium. These root vegetables are also known for their vibrant red color and sweet flavor, making them a great choice for both savory and sweet dishes.
Need some inspiration? Beets can be a great topping for a summer-ready veggie burger, or the perfect finish for a simple salad with leafy greens, balsamic, and goat cheese.
Tomatoes Are Bursting With Antioxidants
Tomato, tom-ah-to, what’s so special about this fruit?
(Yep, you read that right – fruit!)
It turns out tomatoes – the redder the better – have an extremely high amount of antioxidants and cancer-fighting properties.
For example, Linda Kallman at Better Homes & Gardens notes that tomatoes “contain lycopene, the antioxidant phytochemical that also helps prevent heart disease.” At the same time, tomatoes are good source of vitamins A, C, and E, which help to repel cancer-friendly free radicals.
With such a variety of tomatoes to choose from (with thousands in active cultivation), there are endless possibilities for adding this superfood into your summer diet! Try eating these summer staples in a refreshing tomato and cucumber salad, or in the Spanish summer classic, gazpacho andaluz.
Avocados Can Help Your Cholesterol Levels
Avocados are wonder fruits, and offer a substantial amount of minerals and vitamins including:
Even better, these one-seeded berries are abundant with good fats, including omega-9 fatty acids, which can help lower inflammation and boost your metabolism. As if you needed an excuse to indulge in avocado toast and guacamole all summer long!
Pro tip: You’ll know an avocado is ripe at the grocery store by removing “the cap that forms where it would meet the stem of the tree,” says Cher Loh, Head Chef at the Good Housekeeping Institute Cookery School. If it’s brown underneath, you’ve got yourself an overripe avocado. If it’s a greenish-yellow color, you’re good to go! Who knew it was that easy?
Summer Squashes Can Help Your Heart
While the squash family is usually associated with the fall and winter months, their summertime counterparts are as equally versatile – and amazingly delicious! Summer squashes, which include…
- Yellow Squash
… are typically less carb heavy and much lighter than their wintry counterparts, making them a great summer diet fit.
Both zucchini and yellow squash are packed with a great deal of minerals and nutrients like vitamin C, lutein, and zeaxanthin, a type of antioxidant that can help keep your eyesight sharp and strengthen your immune system.
Eggplant is also loaded with antioxidants that can help with cancer prevention, and may improve your “cardiovascular health as it helps to improve blood flow in the blood vessels,” according to Reader’s Digest.
This summer, try adding grilled zucchini, yellow squash, and eggplant to a whole grain pasta salad, or baking zucchini into a dark chocolate bread. There are just two simple and health-conscious ways to integrate these incredible squashes into your summer diet!
What’s On Your Plate?
The word “superfood” can be intimidating. In reality, all this word means is that you’re getting a food rich in nutrients, vitamins, and minerals, which can really help boost your health.
Many of the foods we’ve listed are available year-round, but remember, they’re best when they’re in-season, during the summer months.
No matter when you snack on them, though, these foods may be just what it takes to help to boost your immune system and heart health, in ways your taste buds can support.
And now, the Enrollment Specialists would love to hear from you! Do you have a favorite summer recipe? Is there a healthy snack that you just have to have in the warmer months? Let us know over on Facebook!