It’s the first day of summer—finally! There are many healthy foods you can eat this summer, and these six in particular are my favorite. These six healthy foods are a staple in my diet—and they have many surprising health benefits.
Who doesn’t love strawberries? I even pick them myself when I can get the chance, but I usually end up eating more than I can pick! Strawberries are sweet, have a great color, and they are very healthy. These berries contain generous amounts of vitamin C and soluble fiber. Consuming strawberries is a great way to get more vitamin C into your diet, which can enhance your immune system, improve collagen synthesis, and destroy free radicals.
I enjoy eating them raw and cold with some light cream or mixed with yogurt, cottage cheese, or my breakfast oatmeal. I recommend that you eat at least one serving per day (one cup).
This fruit is part of the melon family and is not only sweet and tastes wonderful, but also nutritionally excellent. Cantaloupe are an excellent source of beta-carotene, vitamin C, and soluble fiber. Beta-carotene is a precursor to vitamin A, and these vitamins are extremely important for proper cellular growth, immunity, vision, and antioxidant capability. I love this with ice milk, or as part of a fruit salad! Try consuming half a cup of a cantaloupe per day for improved health, and add this to your list of healthy foods.
I love blueberries and blackberries, because they are very versatile and can be added to various foods, or as part of a healthy fruit salad. Of course, berries pack a very potent “nutritional punch.” Berries are loaded full of antioxidant chemicals called anthocyanins that are extremely important in human health. These amazing chemicals decrease inflammation, blood pressure, and artery plaque formation, and can prevent abnormal cellular growth by fighting free radicals. I enjoy consuming at least one to two servings of these berries every day in the summer months. I usually add them to my oatmeal, cottage cheese, or yogurt for a powerful and tasty addition to my breakfast.
If you want to eat healthy, then add more sweet potatoes to your diet. This tuber has to be my personal favorite, because it is a very good source of complex carbohydrates, fiber, and antioxidant nutrients. Sweet potatoes are also a good source of beta-carotene, vitamin C, and anthocyanins. These chemicals decrease inflammation, improve blood flow, and destroy free radicals. Sweet potatoes are sweet tasting, but do not elevate blood sugar that rapidly, so I eat them regularly as one of my choice carbohydrate selections! I like to add cinnamon, nutmeg, or allspice to a sweet potato, and I serve it with a protein entree. It tastes like pumpkin pie. Have you ever had sweet potato pie? Fabulous! I recommend eating two to three servings of sweet potatoes every week.
Peaches are one of my favorite fruits. They’re juicy and sweet, especially cold or served with a fruit salad or with yogurt. Peaches are another good source of vitamin C, carotenes, and soluble fiber. You should eat the skin especially, to get the fiber and nutrients. I eat at least one to two peaches per day when they are in season.
Sweet Bell Peppers
Eat healthy this summer, and include sweet bell peppers in your diet! This is my favorite summer vegetable, because it is sweet, versatile, and very good for you! Bell peppers are an excellent source of vitamin C, carotenoids, and fiber. I usually will eat them raw as part of a salad, but I also grill them on the barbeque with some olive oil and garlic. The color, texture, and sweet flavor add a great deal of value to any meal. Try to consume one to two sweet peppers every week.
Watson, M., “Summer Fruits and Vegetables” About.com web site; http://localfoods.about.com/od/whatsinseason/a/SummerFruitVeg.htm, last accessed, June 18, 2013.
Bornsek, S.M., et al., “Bilberry and blueberry anthocyanins act as powerful intracellular antioxidants in mammalian cells,” Food Chem. October 15, 2012; 134(4): 1878-84.
“Vitamin C,” Office of Dietary Supplements web site; http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminC-HealthProfessional/, last accessed June 18, 2013.