It doesn’t take a PhD in nutrition to know that fruits are healthy. (Fad diets that tell you otherwise are wrong!) The vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber in fruits are vital to overall health — and may even offer protection against some cancers, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.
All fruit can find a place on your plate, but these are the healthiest fruits you can eat during peak summer produce season, plus our top tips on how to enjoy them.
OK, we might have cheated a little here. This isn’t a single fruit, but a whole group of nutrient-dense wonders! Summer berries include strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, mulberries, and more.
You’ll really get a bang for your buck here. Not only are berries frequently on sale in the summer, but within these mini-caches are incredible quantities of nutrient components, such as the antioxidant group anthocyanins.
Berries also have high amounts of fiber. It may not be the sexiest nutrient, but getting plenty of fiber can make for a healthier digestive system, help regulate bowel movements, promote immune function, reduce inflammation, and decrease your risk of some chronic diseases.
A cup of blueberries contains 4 grams of fiber, while a cup of sliced strawberries provides 3 grams. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends eating 14 grams of fiber for every 1,000 calories.
It’s tart, it’s juicy, and it’s the only fruit that gets its very own signature spoon: grapefruit! This ruby-colored citrus fruit makes our list thanks to its MVP nutrient profile.
For starters, grapefruit is chock full of vitamin C. Just one-half of a grapefruit (about 3 3/4 inches in diameter) can provide 70 percent of your recommended daily intake.
This vitamin performs all sorts of important jobs, including supporting your immune system, aiding in iron absorption, and forming collagen for healthy tendons, ligaments, bones, and skin. Because vitamin C is also an antioxidant, regular consumption has the potential to reduce inflammatory markers in patients with hypertension and diabetes.
The antioxidant party doesn’t stop there! Pink grapefruit also contains lycopene, an antioxidant you might have thought was only in tomatoes. Lycopene may be associated with the prevention of certain cancers, protection from sun damage, and reduced risk of heart disease.
Incorporate grapefruit at your table as a breakfast addition (broiled, perhaps?) or pop tangy segments into green salads. Or, for a colorful pre-meal starter, mix chopped grapefruit slices, pomegranate arils, sliced avocado, and a squeeze of lime juice for a grapefruit-pomegranate salsa!
Just be warned that this citrus superstar may be contraindicated with some medications, so be sure to ask your doctor or pharmacist before grabbing your grapefruit spoon. And note that grapefruit may not be in season during the summer, depending on where you live.
Lemons aren’t just for turning your hair a shade lighter in the summer sun (or for making lemonade). Their sour juices are packed with a group of antioxidants called flavonoids. Growing scientific research has shown that flavonoids are anti-inflammatory, and potentially contain anticancer properties.
We know you’re not likely to slice up a lemon and eat it like an apple, so try infusing lemons into your water. (Mint leaves or blueberries make a nice combo if lemon alone is too tart.) This will keep you hydrated and refreshed, along with providing a great source of flavonoids.
To add lemon at mealtimes, try baking lemon slices over salmon, or whisk lemon juice into a zingy salad dressing.
Summer is the perfect time to be on the lookout for this sweet tropical fruit, as it thrives in warmer climates.
Passion fruit can come with purple or yellow skin and should be eaten with the seeds to reap its fiber benefits. It’s also a good source of some B vitamins, such as riboflavin and niacin, both of which are important in cell health and producing the energy our bodies require.
As with all the other fruits on this list, passion fruit is also a great source of antioxidants, including flavonoids. Create a passion fruit-focused salad or include some in your next batch of sangria.
The debate rages: Are tomatoes fruits or vegetables? While the Supreme Court may have ruled tomatoes to be veggies back in the 1800s, botanically speaking, the luscious red orbs are fruits — and they just so happen to be tremendously nutritious.
Tomatoes contain ample amounts of vitamin C, potassium, vitamin K1, and folate. As mentioned above, vitamin C supports the immune system, assists in iron production, and helps the body produce collagen. Potassium is important in muscle health and fluid balance, and a diet rich in potassium may help lower blood pressure.
And don’t even get us started on tomatoes’ antioxidant contents. Lycopene, beta-carotene, and vitamin E round out the anti-inflammatory profile tomatoes offer.
What better way to keep hydrated in the summer heat than with a huge slice (or multiple slices, who are we kidding?) of watermelon?
Fun fact: Watermelon is 92 percent water! The other 8 percent is made up of carbohydrates, vitamins A and C, and minerals, including potassium.
In addition, watermelon is a great source of that standout antioxidant, lycopene, which might play a role in reducing the risk of heart disease and cancer.
Caramelize its sweet flavor by grilling and adding salt, or combine with savory cheeses such as feta or parmesan and top with a balsamic drizzle.
All fruits bring an array of healthful components to your table, so it’s a good idea to eat a wide array. Our most important tip: Eat the rainbow. Try eating a fruit from a different color of the rainbow every day or throughout your week to receive the maximum antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, and fiber nature’s candies have to offer.