With grocery store magic and same-day international delivery, it's possible to get nearly any fruit or vegetable pretty much any time of year. But when eating local or looking for the best tasting (and most nutritious) product, it's always good to stay in-season. Here's a list of the tastiest summer-fresh goodies to look for in the produce aisle all season long:
Just one cup of this electric green fruit provides more potassium than the same amount of sliced bananas — with less sugar and calories! They may taste sweet, but there’s no worrying about cavities when it comes to kiwi, with just 7 grams of sugar in one medium fruit they have almost three times less sugar than one apple. One cup of the fruit also contains 5 grams of fiber (the green part has soluble fiber, while the seeds and skin offer the insoluble kind), or about 21 percent of the daily recommended intake, to help promote feelings of fullness.
Try it: Kiwi-Lime Ice Pops via Eating Well
This pointy veggie may look aggressive — they are called spears, after all — but the nutritional powers of asparagus prove it’s a dietary lover, not a fighter. The spears are a good source of vitamin K (important for strong bones and blood clotting) and antioxidants, which repair damage done by free radicals and can help reduce risk of serious health problems like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer Role of oxidative stress in cardiovascular diseases. Dhalla, NS., Temsah, R., Netticadan, T. Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences, St Boniface General Hospital Research Centre and Department of Physiology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada. Journal of Hypertension 2000 June; 18(6):655-73. Oxidative stress and the use of antioxidants in diabetes: Linking basic science to clinical practice. Johansen, J.S., Harris, A.K., Rychly, D.J., et al. University of Tromso, Tromso, Norway; Medical College of Georgia Vascular Biology Center, Augusta, Georgia, USA. Cardiovascular Diabetology 2005 Apr 29; 4(1):5. Dietary Antioxidants: Immunity and Host Defense. Puertollano, M., Puertollano, E., de Cienfuegos, G., et al. Universidad de Jaén, Facultad de Ciencias Experimentales, Departamento de Ciencias de la Salud, Área de Microbiología, E-23071-Jaén, Spain. Current Topics in Medicinal Chemistry 2011;11(14):1752-66.. Try it: Asparagus and Tomato Salad with Feta via Huffington Post
Hey, wipe that sour look off your face! This tart, sunny-colored fruit is a pretty sweet superfood. Lemons are packed with flavor, but (thankfully) not calories. The juice of an entire lemon has only 12 calories but a whopping third of the daily recommended value of vitamin C and other antioxidants. Those antioxidants, known as flavonoids, could make lemons a good way to decrease heart disease risk, reduce inflammation, and fight some cancers (including pancreatic and stomach) Update on uses and properties of citrus flavonoids: new findings in anticancer, cardiovascular, and anti-inflammatory activity. Benavente-García, O., Castillo, J. Research and Development Department of Nutrafur-Furfural Español S.A., Camino Viejo de Pliego, Alcantarilla, Murcia, Spain. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 2008 Aug 13;56(15):6185-205. Citrus fruit intake and stomach cancer risk: a quantitative systematic review. Bae, J.M., Lee, E.J., Guyatt, G. Department of Preventive Medicine, Cheju National University College of Medicine, Jeju, Jejudo, Korea. Gastric Cancer, 2008;11(1):23-32. Citrus fruit intake and pancreatic cancer risk: a quantitative systematic review. Bae, J.M., Lee, E.J., Guyatt, G. Department of Preventive Medicine, Cheju National University College of Medicine, Jejudo, Korea. Pancreas, 2009 Mar;38(2):168-74.. Try it: Chicken Breasts with Fennel, Lemon, and Green Olives via Gastronomers Guide
Antioxidants, anti-inflammatories, and vitamins that promote vision and bone health are what make this little ol' green so super Galactolipids as potential health promoting compounds in vegetable foods. Christensen, L. P. Institute of Chemical Engineering, Biotechnology and Environmental Technology, Faculty of Engineering, University of Southern Denmark, Odense M, Denmark. Recent patents on food, nutrition and agriculture 2009; 1(1): 50-58. Impact of eating habits on macular pathology assessed by macular pigment optical density measure. Cohen SY, Mauget-Faysse M, Oubraham H, Algan M, Conrath J, Roquet W. Centre Ophtalmologique d’Imagerie et de Laser, Paris, France. Journal français d’opthalmologie 2010; 33(4): 234-240. Daily intake of green and yellow vegetables is effective for maintaining bone mass in young women. Fujii, H., Noda, T., Sairenchi, T., Muto, T. Department of Public Health, Dokkyo Medical University School of Medicine, Shimotsuga, Tochigi, Japan. The Tohuko Journal of Experimental Medicine 2009; 218(2): 149-54.. One cup of this green stuff also packs up to 12 percent of the recommended daily dose of calcium Daily intake of green and yellow vegetables is effective for maintaining bone mass in young women. Fujii, H., Noda, T., Sairenchi, T., Muto, T. Department of Public Health, Dokkyo Medical University School of Medicine, Shimotsuga, Tochigi, Japan. The Tohuko Journal of Experimental Medicine 2009; 218(2): 149-54.. Try it: Healthier Spinach Artichoke Dip via Oh She Glows
Low in sugar and high in vitamins A and C, this summer treat is a great, refreshing, low-calorie snack. Studies suggest watermelon could also potentially lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease Determination of citrulline in watermelon rind. Romando, A.M., Perkins-Veaize, P.M. US Department of Agriculture, Mississippi. Journal of Chromatography 2005 June; 1078 (1-2): 196-200. Effects of watermelon supplementation on aortic blood pressure and wave reflection in individuals with prehypertension: a pilot study. Figueroa, A., Sanches-Gonzalez, M.A., Perkins-Veazie, P.M., et al. Department of Nutrition, Food and Exercise Sciences, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL. American Journal of Hypertension. 2011 Jan; 24(1): 40-44.. Plus, the lycopene in watermelon could help protect the body from UV rays and cancer Dietary tomato paste protects against ultraviolet light-induced erythema in humans. Stahl, W., Heinrich, U., Wiseman, S., et al. Institut für Physiologische Chemie I and Biologisch-Medizinisches Forschungszentrum, Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf, Germany. The Journal of Nutrition 2001 May;131(5):1449-51. Nutraceutical properties of lycopene. Waliszewski, K.N., Blasco, G. Unidad de Investigación y Desarrollo en Alimentos. Veracruz, Mexico. Salud Publica de Mexico. 2010 May; 52(3): 254-265.. Try it: Chopped Vegetable, Watermelon, and Feta Salad via Smitten Kitchen
Vitamin C holds most of the strawberry’s secret superpowers. Just one cup of these beautiful berries satisfies the daily requirement for vitamin C! Studies suggest the antioxidant helps build and repair the body's tissues, boosts immunity, and fights excess free radical damage. Plus, it could help promote healthy eye function Eye Sensitivity and Vitamin C. McIntosh, EN. American Journal of Public Health 1982 Dec; 72(12): 1412-1413. Try it: Arugula and Strawberry Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette via Gojee
Don’t worry; these berries won't cause an oompa-loompa-like reaction. In fact, blueberries are nutritional superstars, filled with fiber, vitamin C, and cancer-fighting compounds. Blueberry phytochemicals inhibit growth and metastatic potential of MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells. Adams, LS., Phung, S., Yee, N., et al. Division of Tumor Cell Biology, Beckman Research Institute of the City of Hope, Duarte, California 91010, USA. Cancer Research 2010 May 1;70(9):3594-605. And studies suggest blueberries may even improve memory Towards a unifying, systems biology understanding of large-scale cellular death and destruction caused by poorly liganded iron. Kell, DB. School of Chemistry and the Manchester Interdisciplinary Biocentre, The University of Manchester, Manchester M1 7DN, UK. Archives of Toxicology 2010 Nov;84(11):825-89.! Try it: Coconut Blueberry Muffin Tops via Eat, Live, Run
While these beans are typically in-season throughout the summer months, most beans have some superpower health benefits. Beans are loaded with fiber, folate, and magnesium, and studies have shown these legumes can actually help lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of certain cancers The cholesterol-lowering effect of black beans (Phaseolus vulgaris, L.) without hulls in hypercholesterolemic rats. Rosa, CO, Costa, NM, Leal, PF, et al. Departamento de Nutrição e Saúde, Universidade Federal de Viçosa, Brasil. Archivos latinoamericanos de nutricion 1998;48(4):299-305. Consumption of black beans and navy beans (Phaseolus vulgaris) reduced azoxymethane-induced colon cancer in rats. Hangen, L, Bennick, MR. Food Science and Human Nutrition, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI. Nutrition and Cancer 2002; 44(1):60-5. Try it: Fava Bean and Pecorino Salad via Alexandra's Kitchen
While all the vitamins and minerals are a great bonus, the real star here is cauliflower's cancer-fighting compounds, glucosinolates. These phytochemicals are responsible for cauliflower's sometimes-bitter flavor, but they have also been shown to prevent damage to the lugs and stomach by carcinogens, potentially protecting against those cancers Chemoprevention of tobacco-related lung cancer by cruciferous vegetable. Balcerek, M. Katedra i Zakład Farmakognozji, Collegium Medicum UMK w Bydgoszczy, Poland. Przeglad Lekarski, 2007;64(10):903-5. Effects of cruciferous vegetable consumption on urinary metabolites of the tobacco-specific lung carcinogen 4-(methylnitrosamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanone in singapore chinese. Hecht, S.S., Carmella, S.G., Kenney, P.M., et al. University of Minnesota Cancer Center, Minneapolis, MN. Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, 2004 Jun;13(6):997-1004. Effects of cruciferous vegetables and their constituents on drug metabolizing enzymes involved in the bioactivation of DNA-reactive dietary carcinogens. Steinkellner, H., Rabot, S., Freywald, C., et al. Institute of Cancer Research, University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria. Mutation Research, 2001 Sep 1;480-481:285-97.. And thanks to interactions with estrogen, cauliflower may also help prevent hormone-driven cancers like breast, uterine, and cervical Indole-3-carbinol is a negative regulator of estrogen. Auborn, K.J., Fan, S., Rosen, E.M., et al. North Shore-Long Island Jewish Research Institute, Manhasset, NY. The Journal of Nutrition, 2003 Jul;133(7 Suppl):2470S-2475S.. Try it: Roasted Cauliflower with Herb Sauce via The Meaning of Pie
Get ready to enjoy these juicy delights all summer long! These antioxidant-packed fruits aren't just a pretty addition to the picnic table. Anthocyanins, the flavonoids that give cherries their deep red color, give cherries (and other similarly colored fruits and veggies) some serious superpowers, including regulating immune responses and acting as an anti-inflammatory. The sour varieties of this fruit may be even more helpful as an anti-inflammatory. In fact, studies suggest tart cherries could even be more effective than Aspirin at relieving pain and reducing inflammation Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities of anthocyanins and their aglycon, cyaniding, from tart cherries. Wang, H., Nair, M.G., Strasburg, G.M., et al. Bioactive Natural Products Laboratory, Department of Horticulture and National Food Safety and Toxicology Center, Food Science, and Human Nutrition, and Department of Biochemistry, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan. Feb;62(2):294-6.! Try it: Seared Chicken Salad with Cherries and Goat Cheese via Martha Stewart
Did we miss one of your favorite summertime superfoods? Share with us in the comments below!