The sun is shining, the birds are singing and, at least here in Texas, every color of wild flower is in full bloom. Spring is in full swing! And with summer just around the corner it’s time to start thinking about the beautiful array of fruits and vegetables available to us this time of year. The following is a list of seven summer foods will help you get your skin glowing, strengthen your immunity and help keep you energized for some wonderful barefoot fun in the warmer temps.
ArugulaArugula is a cruciferous vegetable; and like other members of that family it contains anti-cancer compounds called glucosinolates. This powerful leafy green is a natural detoxifier, aiding the body in eliminating harmful substances.
Like other greens, arugula is rich in many vitamins and minerals like vitamins A and C, folic acid, calcium, manganese, and magnesium. Arugula is also a good source of potassium, iron, zinc, riboflavin and copper. It contains phytochemicals like chlorophyll and carotenes, making it an excellent source of antioxidants.
AvocadosThe heath benefits of avocados are endless. First and foremost, avocados are an excellent source of healthy fats, which the body needs for basic cellular and brain function. In addition, you need (healthy) fat to burn fat, and the monosaturated fat found in avocados make it a great food for weight loss.
The beta-sitosterol in avocados helps lower cholesterol and the large amount of folate protects the heart and minimizes chance of stroke. Avocados also contain more lutein (a powerful caratenoid) than nearly any other fruit. Lutein protects against macular degeneration and cataracts, two disabling age-related eye diseases.
Research has shown that certain compounds in avocados can seek out and destroy pre-cancerous and cancerous cells in the oral cavity without harming healthy ones. Additionally, the oleic acid found in avocados has been shown to prevent breast cancer in numerous studies.
Avocados are also high in glutathione, a powerful antioxidant responsible for preventing aging, cancer and heart disease. Lastly, avocados are the fruit highest in vitamin E, which protects against many diseases and helps maintain overall health.
BerriesAll berries are low in calories and pack a mean nutritious punch. Only a small amount of berries contain nearly as much vitamin C as a glass of orange juice (with not nearly the amount of sugar!) Vitamin C is important for immune system function, strong connective tissues and collagen production.
Berries are high in phytochemicals and flavanoids that can help in the prevention of cancer. Their high antioxidant content makes them a powerhouse against free-radicals and other cancer causing agents in the body. They offer powerful antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory protection as well.
They literally support the health of the entire body: balancing blood sugar, supporting cardiovascular health, strengthening blood vessels, reducing hypertension, promoting eye health and cognitive support, and protecting against all types of cancers; make sure to include a vast variety of berries into your diet this summer.
CucumbersCucumbers don’t seems to receive as much press as some of the other vegetables, but this high phytonutrient food is a valuable antioxidant with anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties.
The high water content of cucumbers, as well as their rich supply of vitamins and minerals, make them ideal for weight loss, skin and nail health and in keeping the body hydrated. They are also a natural detoxifier making them ideal for aiding in digestion.
Cucumbers can help control blood pressure, reduce cholesterol, and can assist in curing diabetes as they contain a hormone needed by the cells of the pancreas to produce insulin.
TomatoesTomatoes are an excellent source of vitamins A, C and E as well as beta-carotene and manganese. They are also very high in numerous antioxidants and tout cardiovascular support, bone health and anti-cancer properties among their list of health benefits.
Tomatoes can help control blood sugar levels, prevent strokes and heart attacks and can help improve your vision. Their high levels of lycopene are great for skin care and the high amounts of vitamin A are great for hair health (as well as eye, skin, teeth and bone health as well.)
WatermelonWatermelons are high in many antioxidants, including lycopene. In fact, watermelons are the highest source of lycopene that you can find. Lycopene is important in reducing the risk of heart disease and prostate cancer, so eat up.
Watermelons are high in water and electrolytes and low in calories, meaning you can rehydrate and lose weight while enjoying your deliciously sweet summery snack.
Watermelons are also high in vitamins A and C which means they boost the immune system, slow down the aging process, and help in maintaining cellular health, ocular health and blood vessel health. Watermelons are also natural detoxifiers meaning they help rid the body of harmful free-radicals and other disease causing substances.
Zucchini (Summer Squash)Zucchinis are low in calories, making them a great food for slimming down in the summer. They are also high in vitamin D, making up nearly 60% of your required daily intake. Zucchinis are also rich in vitamin A, C, K and B6, as well as numerous minerals including iron, folate, zinc, calcium, riboflavin and niacin.
Because of their nutritionally dense profile, zucchinis can help protect against and prevent heart disease, cancer, arthritis, and asthma. They’ve also been shown to assist in ocular health and promote memory.
They are high in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, and they also provide antimicrobial protection. Additionally they can help balance blood sugar and provide nutritional support for prostate health.