Summer is a time for sun in the fun, picnics, and days at the beach, barbecues and lots of fresh produce like strawberries, watermelon, corn on the cob, tomatoes, etc. Summer is the best time to head to the farmers market; roadside fruit stands, and produce markets. Locally grown produce is sold cheap due to the abundance of fruits and vegetables available this time of year. This makes summer the best time of year to buy plenty of fruits and vegetables. Load up on the multicolor cornucopia of nutrients that this summer’s produce provides.

You know its summer when you see the corn stocks sprouting up in the once wide-open cornfields. Corn on the cob is a summer staple at cookouts and barbecues and for good reason. Corn contains a unique combination of phytonutrients, which provides the body with antioxidant benefits. With all the nutrients corn contains such as B-complex vitamins B1, B5 and folic acid, as well as antioxidants vitamin C and manganese, its phytonutrients are the most beneficial to the body in the summer. Corn contains antioxidant phytonutrients including anthocyanins, beta-carotene, caffeic acid, coumaric acid, ferulic acid, lutein, syringic acid, vanillic acid, protocatechuic acid, and zeaxanthin. These powerful antioxidants help protect the body from the suns damaging rays and lower the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration. Unless you live in Antarctica it’s hard to stay out of the sun during the summer months, which means lots of exposure to UV rays. So eat a lot of corn this summer to protect your body from the damaging effects of the sun.

Part of the summer squash family, zucchini is a powerful summer vegetable low in calories, but high in fiber and nutrients. Its fiber content aids in digestion, prevents constipation, maintains blood sugar levels and helps with weight management by discouraging overeating. Zucchini’s nutrients include but are not limited to vitamins A, B6, B5, C, folate, minerals copper, magnesium, potassium, manganese, phosphorus and antioxidants lutein, and beta-carotene. The antioxidants within zucchini, which include vitamin C and A, fight against free radicals, which can lead to cardiovascular disease and cancer and have anti inflammatory effects on the body. The minerals found in zucchini provide several health benefits. Copper helps to reduce the development of hyper inflammatory disorders such as asthma, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Magnesium reduces the risk for heart attacks and stroke and along with phosphorus builds and maintains healthy bones. Potassium helps to lower blood pressure. Zucchini along with its close relatives in the squash family are versatile, healthy summer vegetables.

Eggplant is officially the most well known purple vegetable out there. Its purple color comes from its phytonutrient compounds, which have antioxidant properties. The phytonutrient compounds found in eggplant include phenolic compounds caffeic and chlorogenic acid and flavonoids anthocyanin and nasunin. These potent antioxidants protect the body by eliminating free radicals and protecting cell membranes from damage. Chlorogenic acid found in eggplants happens to be one of the most potent antioxidants with additional beneficial characteristics. It is an anti mutagenic (anti cancer), anti microbial, anti LDL (bad cholesterol), and antiviral. Nasunin, which is found in eggplants skin, is an iron chelator in addition to being a powerful antioxidant. Don’t knock it until you try it, this funny shaped purple vegetable has tons of health perks.

Although tomatoes are available year round, they are the freshest during the summer. Big, red, plump tomatoes are great protectors of your skin, heart and health. Tomatoes contain an antioxidant carotenoid called lycopene, which not only helps give them their color but is responsible for several health benefits. Lycopene protects cells from free radical damage. It acts like a natural sun block reducing the damaged caused by UV rays. Its vitamin C content helps to protect against infections, oncoming colds, and viruses. Add tomatoes to your summer meals to avoid getting sunburn.

Rhubarb only grows in the summer and is thought of as a vegetable but is actually a fruit. Most rightly so because its most often used in desserts. Rhubarb looks like red celery, but it gets its red color from the powerful antioxidants, which promote health and prevent disease. Antioxidants, which give the appearance of a red color, are lycopene and anthocyanins. Both of these antioxidants promote the health of the heart, eyes, skin, immune system and prevent cancer. Another antioxidant rhubarb contains is lutein. Lutein neutralizes free radicals and protects the eyes and skin specifically. In addition rhubarb is loaded with vitamins and minerals. Rhubarb has sufficient amounts of vitamin K, helping the body to form blood clots during times of injury. Rhubarb is loaded with healthy minerals such as calcium, magnesium, iron, manganese, selenium, copper, and phosphorus, which helps with bone health, red blood cell function, and nervous system health. Rhubarb is a non-dairy source of bone building calcium. Although most people prefer to indulge in rhubarb in its dessert form, avoid the extra calories by eating it raw.

Picking strawberries right off the vine is a perfect summer activity where you can buy strawberries in bulk for cheap. Strawberries are known for their bright red color, plump shape and sweet flavor. Strawberries are full of healthy nutrients with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. Strawberries are most notably known for their vitamin C content but are also good sources of vitamin A, K, folate, choline, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, fluoride and manganese. With all its healthy nutrients strawberries health benefits range from prevention of cardiovascular disease, decreased risk of Type 2 Diabetes and cancer prevention. That’s why strawberries are the best fruit to eat to load up on antioxidant benefits.

Cherries are known as a super fruit, which come into season during the summer. They’re loaded with vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants, which provide the body with a wide variety of health benefits. Most notably cherries antioxidants, anthocyanins and melatonin act as an anti inflammatory, which reduces gout and joint pain associated with arthritis, in addition it regulates heart rhythms and in the bodies sleep cycle. Its vitamin and mineral content (beta carotene, vitamin C, E, potassium, magnesium, iron, folate) make it a good food to aid in brain function and prevent memory loss. Cherries are full of fiber, which aids digestion but also helps in weight management by revving up the fat burning process and decrease fat storage. Cherries reduce the risk for diabetes, heart disease and cancer. So grab a bowl of cherries as your next snack and dig in.

Summer barbecues and cookouts call for a fresh, juicy delicious dessert, watermelon. Remember eating all the way down to the rind or seeing who can pit the seeds the farthest. Watermelon can be a refreshing treat to cool the body on a hot summer day. Its water content alone can keep you hydrated, boost your mood, sharpen your memory and provide you with energy. In addition watermelon contains powerful antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and amino acids. It detoxes the body, eliminates liver toxins, stimulates the kidneys, reduces acne, removes cellulite and moisturizes the skin. Antioxidants vitamin A, C, carotenoids and lycopene neutralize free radicals, which protect the skin and eyes and prevent cancer. Watermelon contains the amino acid citruline, which helps to create the amino acid arginine within the body. These amino acids remove ammonia from the body and produce nitric oxide. This relaxes blood vessels, lowers blood pressure, improves circulation, the immune system and heart activity. The white part of the rind also contains silica, which strengthens bones and helps with proper functioning of the pancreas. Eating watermelon will fill up your stomach and satisfy your sweet craving.

The best way tot eat blueberries is by picking them right off the branch. Blueberry picking is a fun summer activity, which supplies the body with a ton of health benefits. Blueberries aren’t called super fruits for nothing. Blueberries have the capability to boost the immune system, prevent infections, neutralize free radicals, reduce belly fat, preserve vision, increase brain health, reduce the risk of heart disease and caner and improve digestion and constipation and so much more. Blueberries have the highest antioxidant capacity of all other fresh fruits in the world. Blueberries contain anthocyanins, vitamin C, E, A, B complex, copper, selenium, zinc, iron, carotenoids, flavonoids, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, and fiber. Anthocyanins have the highest concentration and are responsible for their blue/purple color. All of blueberries nutrients work in combination to improve the bodies health overall. Head to the blueberry patch and pop some blueberries in your mouth to improve your mood, and sharpen your memory.

The sweet and tart taste of raspberries in the summer can be just what you need. Raspberries like many other berries (blueberries, blackberries, strawberries) are in season during the summer. And much like these other berries, raspberries are filled with potent phytonutrient antioxidants, which protect the body form harmful free radicals and prevent cellular damage. Raspberries have higher antioxidant capacities than strawberries, kiwis and tomatoes. The primary phytonutrient tannin in raspberries is ellagic acid. It is only found in a few other foods such as green tea. Raspberries also contain flavonoids quercetin, kaempferol and anthocyanins, which are responsible for its luscious red color. These antioxidants have antimicrobial properties, which prevent the overgrowth of certain bacteria and fungi, and anticancer activity, which prevent the growth of tumors and the damage of cell membranes. Raspberries are full of fiber, which help to control cholesterol, manage weight and promote weight loss. But raspberries only grow for a short window of time so its vital to get them while their ripe.

Author's Bio: 

Sarah Labdar graduated with a BA in exercise science and has worked in the medical field since. Her focus is alternative medicine and how it interacts and works in conjunction with traditional medicine.
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