It’s summer—that amazing time of year when fresh produce abounds. Many of summer’s fruits and vegetables are brimming with secret health benefits. Here are some of the dietitian favourites and why they’re a particularly good choice in the summer.
Nothing says summer like fresh sweet corn. And did you know that two antioxidants—lutein and zeaxanthin—in corn may act like natural sunglasses, helping to form macular pigment that filters out some of the sun’s damaging rays? It’s true. The same antioxidants may also help lower your risk of developing age-related macular degeneration—the leading cause of blindness in people over the age of 60 (though much of the damage occurs decades earlier).
Fresh blueberries straight from the berry patch are a special treat! Turns out the antioxidants in them may help ward off muscle fatigue by mopping up the additional free radicals that muscles produce during exercise, according to recent research out of New Zealand.
Sure, a tall glass of iced tea on a hot day is refreshing, but did you know it might also do your body good? Studies show if you drink tea regularly, you may lower your risk of Alzheimer’s and diabetes, plus have healthier teeth and gums and stronger bones. How? Tea is rich in a class of antioxidants called flavonoids. Regardless of the variety—black, green, oolong, white or herbal—maximize the power of tea’s flavonoids by drinking it freshly brewed. If you want to keep a batch of cold tea in your refrigerator, “add a little lemon juice,” recommends Jeffrey Blumberg, Ph.D., director of the Antioxidants Research Laboratory at the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University in Boston. The citric acid and vitamin C in that squeeze of lemon—or lime, or orange—help preserve the flavonoids.
Cooking Light notes that mushrooms are the only vegetable source of vitamin D; and “many compounds have been identified in mushrooms that show potential for boosting immunity and possibly protecting against cancer,” says Pino Rose in Foodist. Next time you’re craving a meatless barbecue option, try grilling up a portobello mushroom instead of a veggie burger.
1Peanuts and peanut butter
Perfect for baseball games and picnics, peanuts are rich in plant compounds called sterols, one of the best cholesterol busters. They’re also a great source of protein, fibre, and vitamin E. Just be sure to avoid peanut butter with added sugar, salt, or trans fats, and choose unsalted peanuts to cut down on sodium.