Fruits and Vegetables to enjoy this summer
Watercress has a peppery flavor and makes a great addition to any summer salad. Watercress tops the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s list of “powerhouse” fruits and vegetables because it was found to be the most nutrient-dense food.
Watercress has only 11 calories per 100 grams and is an excellent source of ascorbic acid (vitamin C), containing a denser concentration of vitamin C than an orange. It is also an excellent source of calcium, iron, folate, and vitamins A, B6, and K. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that eating a daily portion of watercress could significantly reduce DNA damage to blood cells that is considered an important trigger in the development of cancer.
Fava beans are a healthy summer delicacy. These legumes, also known as broad beans, are a great source of lean protein and are a good source of potassium, magnesium, zinc, and vitamins B1, B6, and K. They are also rich in fiber and have no cholesterol or saturated fat. Fava beans can be served raw or cooked, though the pods must first be blanched.
Watermelon is almost 92% water, making it a great source of hydration in hot weather. It has only 88 calories in a two-cup serving and one gram of fiber, which slows digestion and helps keep you feeling full longer. It is a great source of lycopene, an antioxidant that may help protect cells from damage.
Swiss chard is a leafy green vegetable that is also included on the CDC list of powerhouse fruits and vegetables for being packed with nutrients and vitamins. Studies have shown that chard can be especially beneficial to diabetics because it has unique benefits for blood-sugar regulation. The vegetable contains syringic acid, which inhibits the activity of alpha-glucosidase (an enzyme that usually breaks down carbohydrates into simple sugars). Swiss chard also has a good amount of fiber (3 1/2 grams per cooked cup), protein, antioxidants, calcium and Vitamin K. As an added bonus, a cooked cup has only 35 calories. Swiss chard can be eaten raw in salads or cooked and sauteed.
Passion fruit is a great summer treat, with a long list of health benefits attributed to it. Native to South America, passion fruit is a source of fiber, antioxidants, and vitamins A and C. One serving of this fruit will also give you two times as much potassium as a banana.
Radishes are very good for you. This root crop is low in calories and has a high water content (about 90%). Radishes are also a great source of vitamin C, fiber, potassium, and folate. They are natural diuretics and are very filling. They are also good for the liver as natural detoxifiers and can even be used to treat bee stings and insect bites because of their antipruritic properties. Radishes are also included on the CDC’s list of powerhouse fruits and vegetables.
Arugula is a leafy green that is in season from late spring through September also found on the CDC’s list of powerhouse fruits and vegetables. It is part of the cabbage family and has a mild peppery, spicy taste. It has just 4 calories a cup while being an excellent source of folate, fiber, calcium, and vitamins A, C, and K. In fact, it contains 14% of your daily vitamin K requirements. This popular green also contains lutein, an antioxidant that helps maintain healthy eyes, skin, and heart.
Peaches are a pretty tasty and healthy summer snack: They are low in calories (with a typical peach containing only 68) and a great source of fiber. The fruit also contains 10 different vitamins, including vitamin C, an antioxidant and tissue-builder, as well as vitamin A, important to healthy vision. Peaches are also a good source of vitamins E and K, potassium, magnesium, and calcium.
Peach season is at its peak in July and August. Try grilling them to make an extra-special treat.
Zucchini and other summer squash can be served raw, grilled, rolled, or diced. It has only 20 calories a cup and no fat or cholesterol while providing 35% of your daily-recommended vitamin C. It is also a great source of fiber and potassium. Try making “zoodles” this summer with a spiral slicer that transforms zucchini into a healthy substitute for pasta.
Raspberries are a great source of fiber: one cup has 8 grams of fiber, some of which is soluble in the form of pectin, which helps lower cholesterol. They are also a source of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, including potassium and vitamin C. A cup of raspberries has only 64 calories, and the fruit can even possibly help fight inflammatory conditions, such as arthritis.