Summer is the season for enjoying eating more fruit for many reasons. It’s when many fruits are ripe, available, least expensive, and taste the best. And don’t forget they are bursting with flavor and nutrition.
Let’s take a look at 4 commonly eaten summer fruit favorites reminding you to eat more of this mouthwatering and nourishing produce:
You can’t go wrong with berries – whether blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries – each are fiber-rich, nutrient-dense, and full of antioxidants. The American Cancer Society agrees that every day, have some type of berry. Berries contain a powerful antioxidant called polyphenols – including ellagic acid – and anthocyanins that counteract reduce, and repair damage to cells. And if you’ve ever admired berries jewel-like tones, you should. That’s because the darker the color of a fruit (or vegetable), the higher the concentration of phytochemicals, a plant chemical good for reducing blood pressure and arterial stiffness.
While not native to the U.S., cherries are grown in most parts of our country. The dark, rich color of sweet red cherries indicates their high levels of anthocyanin pigments and phenolic compounds. Cherries also supply a good source of vitamin C and satiating fiber. Besides vitamin C and antioxidants, sour red cherries are also an excellent source of vitamin A, necessary for regulating the growth and differentiation of all cells in the body.
Peaches and Nectarines
It wouldn’t be summer without eating a ripe, juicy peach or nectarine. Most states also grow peaches even though they are native to China. Nectarines came from a natural mutation of peaches. These summertime favorites, when eaten with the skin, inhibit LDL oxidation and are a good source of vitamin C, fiber, vitamin A, potassium, and niacin. The best indicator as to the best time to eat peaches or nectarines is when they smell fragrant. Avoid peaches or nectarines that either green or overly soft. To ripen them up faster, place them in a paper bag.
Originating from Africa, watermelon is another quintessential summer fruit. August is peak watermelon season which is perfect for keeping hydration levels adequate on hot, humid late summer days. A fun fact to know about watermelon is it has more beta-carotene than berries and a lot of iron for a fruit. But what really makes watermelon stand out is its rich source of the phytochemical called lycopene, which rivals the lycopene levels found in cooked tomatoes. Lycopene is what gives the gorgeous pinkish-red color to the interior of this fruit and is associated with reducing prostate cancer. Diets high in watermelon are also associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.
Creative ways to increase intake of summer fruit
Eating a diet that includes plenty of colorful summer fruit along with vegetables, whole grains, and limited amounts of red and processed meats will provide protection against cancer and other diseases. But, no one food by itself will reduce disease risk. It’s when healthy foods are combined, there’s synergy between the multitude of vitamins and minerals each food contains – vitamin, minerals, antioxidants, and phytochemicals.
In the meantime, enjoy plenty of summer fruit by incorporating them into your diet – here’s a few ideas:
- Have a fruit (and vegetable) at every meal
- Keep a fruit bowl in the kitchen for a quick grab and go snacking
- Toss fruit onto oatmeal or dry cereal
- Male whole fruit smoothies
- Slice fruits or add berries to leafy green salads
- Make elegant cold fruit soups by pureeing fruits such as strawberries, raspberries, or peaches; thinning with a little fruit juice or milk; and adding spices, such as cinnamon for peaches or a dash of pepper for strawberries
- Place peeled, sliced fresh fruit in the freezer. Put frozen fruit in a blender with a dash of lemon juice and a little spice to make a sorbet.
- Grill fruits such as peaches. Grilling softens the fruit and gives it a more complex flavor, making it an ideal accompaniment to meals.
- Use chopped peaches or watermelon for salads.