Monday, 24 June 2019

Healthy Summer Produce to Add to Your Diet

Summer is here, and it’s bringing with it delicious and nutritious summer produce. Here are 20 healthy fruits and vegetables that tend to be at their peak in many locations during the summer months.


  • Calories17 per apricot
Apricots are low in calories and fat, yet they’re excellent sources of vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium and fiber. According to Healthline, the antioxidants and other nutrients in apricots might help to boost eye, skin, gut and liver health. And they’re a hydrating food, which benefits your whole body. “Choose apricots that are plump, firm and uniformly colored,” the Produce for Better Health Foundation says. Store them at room temperature until they’re ripe and then for up to five days in the refrigerator.


  • Calories24 per medium green pepper
The various colors of bell peppers are actually mostly composed of water, making them perfect to add to your diet in the summer heat. Bell peppers are high in vitamin C, along with vitamin A, vitamin K, vitamin B6, potassium, manganese, fiber and various antioxidants. Plus, they might be able to cut your risk for anemia. “Not only are red bell peppers a decent source of iron, they are also exceptionally rich in vitamin C, which increases the absorption of iron from your gut,” Healthline says. Choose brightly colored bell peppers without shriveled skin, and refrigerate them for up to five days.


  • Calories46 per cup of whole strawberries
Many varieties of berries — strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, etc. — hit their peak during the summer months. And they bring with them many health benefits. “Berries are a great source of antioxidants, such as anthocyanins, ellagic acid, and resveratrol,” Healthline says. “In addition to protecting your cells, these plant compounds may reduce disease risk.” Berries also are high in several vitamins and minerals, as well as fiber. Choose the freshest berries you can find, store them in the refrigerator and don’t wash them until you’re ready to eat them, the Produce for Better Health Foundation says.


  • Calories54 per cup of cubes
A 1-cup serving of cantaloupe is good for your day’s recommended intake of vitamin A and vitamin C — along with a decent amount of several other vitamins and minerals. “Vitamin A is important to eye health, a healthy immune system, and healthy red blood cells,” according to Healthline. When choosing cantaloupe, look for one that’s fragrant, symmetrical, heavy and with a yellow or cream undertone. There shouldn’t be any visible bruises, and the stem end should give a little under gentle pressure. Uncut cantaloupe can be stored at room temperature for a week, while cut melon can last in the fridge for about five days.


  • Calories87 per cup
Cherries are “one of the healthiest foods you can eat,” according to Healthline. They’re low in calories but very high in antioxidants and other anti-inflammatory compounds. They might be able to protect against health issues, including diabetes, cancer, heart disease and gout. Research also has shown cherry juice might lower cholesterol and reduce joint pain. Even better, they can last for up to 10 days in the refrigerator — longer than many other fruits and veggies. 


  • Calories111 per medium ear of yellow sweet corn
Corn sometimes gets a bad rap as a starchy vegetable, but it’s actually very nutritious in its unprocessed form. An ear of corn is rich in fiber, B vitamins, vitamin C, magnesium, potassium and manganese. According to Healthline, corn contains compounds that might benefit eye health and protect against digestive issues. But the starch can spike your blood sugar, so it might not be ideal for everyone. Refrigerate corn in its husk, and use it within a couple days, the Produce for Better Health Foundation recommends.


  • Calories8 per half cup of slices
Cucumbers are known for being a hydrating food, but there’s more to them than their water content. They offer some vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, vitamin K, magnesium and potassium. And if you eat them with their peel, you’ll maximize their fiber content. Pick cucumbers that are firm, with a dark green color and heavy for their size. They can be refrigerated for up to a week.


  • Calories35 per cup of cubes
Belonging to the nightshade family, eggplants are a very nutrient-dense food, Healthline says. For very few calories, they offer good amounts of vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, manganese, potassium and fiber. And they’re high in antioxidants and other healthy compounds, which can ward off many health issues, including heart disease and cancer. Choose an eggplant that’s heavy for its size and without any discoloration or cracks. Store it in the fridge, and use it within the week.


  • Calories34 per cup
Green beans are low in calories and contain no fat or cholesterol. Yet they’re high in many vitamins and minerals, as well as fiber and protein. This makes green beans a heart-healthy food, according to Healthline. For the freshest beans, pick ones that are bright green and snap easily when bent, the Produce for Better Health Foundation says. They should be refrigerated and used in about a week.


  • Calories61 per diced cup
Honeydew is another melon that packs a lot of nutrition into each sweet, juicy bite. It’s rich in vitamin C, vitamin K, B vitamins and potassium, as well as antioxidants. According to Healthline, honeydew might help to reduce blood pressure, benefit bone health and promote healthy blood sugar, among other benefits. When picking honeydew, choose one that feels heavy for its size and has a waxy, but not fuzzy, surface. Store it at room temperature until it’s cut and then in the fridge for up to two weeks.

11. OKRA

  • Calories18 per half cup of slices
Okra is a low-calorie food that’s very low in sodium and has no fat or cholesterol. But it’s a good source of vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, magnesium and manganese — as well as fiber. Although research is in the early stages, components of okra might be beneficial to help people manage diabetes, according to Healthline. It also might help to reduce stress, lower cholesterol and improve energy. Choose bright, firm okra, and store it in the fridge for up to three days for best results.


  • Calories17 per fruit
You might pass on passion fruit because you don’t know how to prepare it. But it’s a fruit worth getting to know. For its small size and low caloric content, passion fruit is a good source of several vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants. To eat passion fruit, slice it open to expose the seeds and flesh. “The seeds are edible, so you can eat them together with the colorful flesh and juice,” Healthline says. “The white film separating the rind from the flesh is also edible, but most people don’t eat it since it’s very bitter.” For peak ripeness, select passion fruit that has wrinkled skin, and refrigerate it for up to seven days.


  • Calories59 per medium peach
If you’re lucky enough to live in an area with stands selling fresh peaches in the summer, stop and treat yourself. Peaches are rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, fiber and more. And they have several health benefits. According to Healthline, peaches might help with digestion, boost heart health, protect your skin, lower your risk of certain cancers and reduce allergies. Pick unblemished peaches with firm skin that yields slightly to pressure. Store unripe peaches in a paper bag at room temperature or ripe ones in the fridge for use within a couple days.

14. PEAS

  • Calories62 per half cup
Green peas are high in several vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, as well as fiber and protein. They’re a very filling food for a small amount of calories, which can help people keep their weight in check. Peas also might help control blood sugar, aid digestion and protect against certain diseases, according to Healthline. But they can cause bloating in some people — though preparation methods and portion control can help with that.


  • Calories30 per plum
Plums provide several important vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, potassium, copper and manganese. Their fiber content might help with digestive issues, and their antioxidants can protect your body against many diseases. A ripe plum is plump and has smooth skin, according to the Produce for Better Health Foundation. Unripe plums can be stored in a paper bag at room temperature until they ripen — at which point they should be refrigerated or eaten.


  • Calories19 per cup of slices
Radishes are a seriously underrated root vegetable that you should definitely consider adding to your summer salads. For very few calories, they provide good amounts of vitamin C, B vitamins, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium and more. And according to Healthline, radishes might have anticancer effects, as well as antifungal properties. For the freshest radishes, choose smooth, brightly colored ones with green attached tops. Refrigerate them for up to a week.


  • Calories11 per medium tomatillo
Tomatillos are a green, tomato-like fruit commonly used in Mexican cuisine. (And no, they’re not just green tomatoes.) Like eggplant, they’re part of the nightshade family. Tomatillos are low in calories, low in fat and have no cholesterol or sodium. But they are good sources of vitamin C, among other nutrients. “Look for dry, hard tomatillos with tightly fitting husks that are dry and free of mold,” the Produce for Better Health Foundation says. They can be refrigerated for up to three weeks, depending on their freshness.


  • Calories22 per medium tomato
If you have a green thumb, you know summer is the time to grow your tomato plants. And no matter which variety you choose, this fruit (yes, fruit) has many health benefits. They’re low in calories but good sources of fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, potassium, manganese and more. According to Healthline, tomatoes might play a role in preventing heart disease and cancer, as well as boosting skin health. Their lycopene content might even help to protect against sunburn. Choose bright, firm tomatoes, and store them at room temperature for use within a week after they ripen.


  • Calories46 per diced cup
For many people, watermelon is the fruit of summer. Not only does it keep you hydrated, but it also provides good amounts of vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, magnesium and other healthy nutrients. According to Healthline, the compounds in watermelon might help to prevent cancer, improve heart health, reduce inflammation and muscle soreness, protect against macular degeneration, aid digestion and benefit the skin and hair. When picking watermelon, choose one that’s symmetrical and heavy for its size. Refrigerate cut melon for up to five days.


  • Calories18 per sliced cup
Zucchini and other summer squash can be a very healthy addition to your diet in the warmer months. It’s low in calories but high in vitamin C, B vitamins, potassium, manganese, fiber and more. According to Healthline, research has linked zucchini to healthy digestion and blood sugar levels, improved heart health, better eyesight and weight loss. It also might contribute to bone, prostate and thyroid health and have anticancer effects. Pick a zucchini with “slightly prickly, but shiny skin,” the Produce for Better Health Foundation says. It can be stored in the fridge for about five days (or two days once it’s cooked).

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