8 Superfoods for Summer

Guest Post By Kirsten Morningstar 

Wondering what to snack on this summer? Here are eight of our favorite summer superfoods! All of these fruits and veggies are in season all summer long. That means they’re not only available locally, but they’re at their peak of deliciousness!

And, as always, go organic when you can. Organic foods will help you avoid pesticides and herbicides, and often contain higher levels of nutrients than their nonorganic cousins.

Organic Blueberries

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There’s not much in nature that’s naturally blue, but these tiny berries are! They’re also one of the richest sources of antioxidants. Studies suggest that 1–2 cups of blueberries a day could help reduce cholesterol, and a diet high in blueberries (2–2-1/2 cups of blueberry juice made from fresh blueberries) may improve memory.[1] Oh, and we almost forgot to mention . . . they’re high in proanthocyanidins, a component that may help reduce the appearance of wrinkles. 

Organic Avocados

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Buttery avocado is a dieter’s dream. It tastes rich and creamy (in fact, in some parts of India, it’s known as “butter fruit”), thanks to its high concentration of monounsaturated fats. But, don’t worry—not all fat is bad for you. A study conducted at the Reina Sofia University in Spain revealed that avocado’s high monounsaturated fats, when consumed as part of a reasonable, balanced diet, may help reduce belly fat! And, that’s not all. Monounsaturated fats help lower LDL cholesterol, as well as decrease the risk of breast cancer, heart disease, and stroke.[2,3] 

Organic Lemons

Lemon WaterLemons not only bring out the flavor of food, but they’re also great for digestion. Dr. Oz recommends combining lemon juice and ground flaxseeds to aid digestion, thanks to the pectin in the lemon juice and the fiber in the flaxseeds. But, they do much more. They also contain a compound known as limonin that stays in the body up to 24 hours after consumption and can help cancer cells from rapidly growing,[4] and their high levels of vitamin C—one lemon contains 1/3 of your recommended daily allowance (RDA)—can help protect the body against osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, and help you absorb iron. So, go ahead, squeeze it on everything!

Organic Raspberries

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In need of fiber? In just one cup, these little jewels contain 30% of your daily dose of fiber and 60% of your RDA of manganese, a mineral critical for building strong bones and cartilage. They’re also a great post-workout snack, due to their high levels of ellagic acid, a compound that reduces inflammation.[5] However, don’t get too excited about their ketones, the chemical that gives them their unique scent, just yet. While it’s been touted as a “miracle fat burner,” the scientific jury is still out on whether the supplement works for people as well as it did for mice.  Popsicles

Watermelon

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Watermelon and summer were made for each other. Clocking in at 92% water, this classic summer snack is one of the most refreshing ways to hydrate on a hot day. And, while we don’t suggest you skimp on the sunblock, its beta-carotene and flavonoids have been shown to reduce the risk of sunburns and skin damage caused by UV-B rays.[6]

Also, did you know that its red hue isn’t just for looks? It comes from lycopene, a powerful antioxidant most often associated with the tomato, known for fighting inflammation in the body and promoting cardiovascular health.[7] And a final fun fact about this fruit packed with vitamins A and C: The black seeds are a good source of protein, zinc, and iron. They’re not very tasty raw, but try them toasted like pumpkin seeds.

Organic Strawberries

StrawberriesAs a kid, our favorite treat was strawberries . . . blanketed in powered sugar. But, while that snack is undoubtedly sweet, we’ve come to love these berries without their fattening topping, which is great because a single cup of them provides 100% of your vitamin C for the day and a mere 47 calories![8] Additionally, these little fruits contain the antioxidant anthocyanin and other phytonutrients that can reduce inflammation, and their ellagitannins may be responsible for helping to decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes when they’re eaten 3 times a week or more.[9] For the fruits with the most flavor, choose smaller berries over larger ones. Another easy way to check sweetness is to cut them in half—easier done at the farmers’ market than the supermarket. The redder the center, the sweeter the taste.

Organic Tomatoes

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This staple of Italian cooking actually originated in Mexico. It’s also one of the easiest fruits to grow in your backyard or on your patio. This shiny, bright red globe is a nutrient-packed powerhouse that has been attributed with the ability to prevent prostate cancer, breast cancer, and promote heart health. They can help you absorb calcium, thanks to all that lycopene, as well as vitamins A, C, and E.[10] To get even more benefits from tomatoes, cook them in heart-healthy olive oil as the lycopene is fat-soluble. 

Organic Cucumbers

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Pickled or raw, these crunchy veggies are great for you! Cucumbers contain three types of the polyphenol lignan, a compound that may reduce the risk of heart disease and guard against a variety of cancers.[11] Enjoying a pickle with your sandwich isn’t only tasty, it could also improve your immune system’s ability to ward off disease.[12]

 

Resources:

  1. http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice

  2. http://archinte.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/abstract/158/1/41

  3. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17384344

  4. http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice

  5. http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice

  6. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7948931

  7. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21291369

  8. http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminC-HealthProfessional/

  9. http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice

  10. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1020374

  11. http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice

  12. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16987435

 

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