With summer and warm weather comes sweating. With sweating comes higher risks of dehydration and nutrient deficiencies. Combat these risks by eating locally sourced, in season produce. Visit your local farmer’s markets or check for the local section in your grocery store. In season fruits and vegetables contain nutrients that are at their peak, and sourcing them locally means less steps between picking and your kitchen table for them to lose any nutrient properties. Here, we outline 6 summer superfoods that will keep you hydrated and deliver the nutrients you need to keep you healthy all summer long!
Tomatoes are a food with a ton of function. Containing antioxidants such as, vitamin C, they have disease fighting power. The antioxidant that gives tomatoes their red coloring is lycopene. Lycopene is known for its anticancer properties most notably, prostate cancer. Enjoy these in summer salads, as sandwich toppings, or even raw (grape tomatoes are the best for this! Yum!). When cooked, their nutrient availability becomes even stronger so consider a homemade tomato sauce over pasta!
This summer squash variety is full of a certain polysaccharide called pectin. Pectin is linked to heart health benefits by aiding in lowering cholesterol and improving overall arterial health and inflammation. Because of their anti-inflammatory properties, zucchini also protect the GI tract while helping with digestive health. Jump on the latest trend of “zoodles” by spiralizing your zucchini to create long thin noodles that can be substituted as a low carb option. Saute your zoodles and enjoy with pasta sauce or eat zoodles raw in a summer salad.
Watermelon=water! During hot summer days you will need to be replenishing your fluids so you don’t become dehydrated so keep this fruit on hand to mix up your re-hydration regimen. The high water content in watermelon will also keep you satisfied and keep you from having those bad cravings. Like tomatoes, watermelon contains lycopene adding cancer fighting properties and even helps protect skin from sun damage! Watermelon pairs well in salads and can also be enjoyed as is! Use fun-shaped cookie cutters to carve up your watermelon!
- Apricots, Peaches & Nectarines
Nectarines and apricots are a great source of dietary fiber aiding in digestion. Additionally, they both are full of vitamin A and beta-carotene. Beta-carotene protects the body from dangerous free radicals. When ingested, beta-carotene is converted to vitamin A aiding in skin, bone and teeth health. As for peaches, their high vitamin C content fights disease and has many skin protection and healing benefits. All of these fruits can be consumed raw or dried. Try peaches in salads or dried apricots mixed in a trail mix snack.
- Dark, Leafy Greens
Spinach and kale are the most nutritious of the dark leafy varieties. Similar to nectarines, these greens contain carotenoids which are converted to vitamin A in the body. Most notably, vitamin A protects skin from sun damage which is critical in the summer time. These green veggies also contain the mineral iron which is important for blood and circulation health. When making salads this summer, use both of these greens as the base. Additionally use them as sandwich toppings or try this delicious kale pesto over noodles (or zoodles!).
- Strawberries & Blueberries
These summer berries are packed with flavonoids which are high in antioxidants and contain major anti-inflammatory properties. Flavonoids also play a large role in skin health making skin less sensitive to sunlight. Additionally,studies have shown that the flavonoids have slowed cognitive decline in some cases. Enjoy these berries in salads (with dark, leafy greens!) or whip up a delicious mixed fruit salad. Have a sweet tooth? Melt some dark chocolate and dip in some strawberries.
During you next trip to the grocery store or farmer’s market, consider picking up a few of these summer staples. You and your body will be glad you did!