Summer officially starts this weekend, but at my local market the season has already begun. The produce aisle is loaded with summery superfoods. At the peak of the season, these fruits and veggies are affordable and full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Start the slideshow to learn just how super these superfoods truly are.
- Blueberries - This little berry tops almost every list of superfoods. Not only do blueberries battle belly fat, they are an antioxidant powerhouse. High in both vitamins C and A, blueberries contain flavonoids that help prevent ovarian cancer and tannins to fight urinary tract infections. This berry aids digestion and is said to help relieve both diarrhea and constipation. Aside from topping yogurt and oatmeal with the berry, I like to bake blueberry almond coffee cake for summertime brunches. You can even add blueberries to your burgers to fight the carcinogens the accompany grilling meat.
- Cantaloupe - Biting into a cool melon on a hot Summer day is a tasty treat, and it does your body well, too. One cup of melon contains only 53 calories and fulfills your daily nutritional requirements for vitamins A and C. This melon is extremely high in beta carotene, which promotes eye health and healthy lungs. Cantaloupe makes a great breakfast fruit, an afternoon snack with cottage cheese and dried cranberries, or an appetizer wrapped in prosciutto.
- Raspberries - Delicate and full of flavor, what is not to love about raspberries? This gem of a berry is full of antioxidants, antimicrobials, and anticarcinogenics - hitting the trifecta of superoods. Raspberries are high in the the trace mineral manganese , which supports an active metabolism. Under 100 calories, a cup of these berries provides a third of your daily requirement for fiber. Enjoy raspberries straight out of the container for a snack. Eat them with yogurt or make light frozen raspberry pie for an extra special Summer treat.
- Red Bell Pepper - Red bell peppers promote optimal health. Good for your heart, your lungs, and your eyes, they are incredibly high in the antioxidant vitamins C and A. One cup of raw red pepper slices is only 25 calories. Red bell peppers make a great chip substitute for hummus or spinach dip. I like to roast them to top veggies burgers or to make romesco sauce.
- Spinach - Popeye was right - spinach rocks. Available in early Spring and throughout the Summer, spinach is a leafy green that combats ovarian cancer and helps protect your heart. A cup of cooked spinach provides 35 percent of your recommended daily intake of iron. It is also high in vitamin K and folate, an important B vitamin for expectant mothers. And for the rest of us, a low level of folate is linked to depression. Raw spinach makes a great base for a salad, and cooked it makes an excellent bed for your protein instead of rice or pasta. I love spinach in quiche and mini frittatas, too. Cool yourself off with a little Spinach Artichoke Dip.
- Tomatoes - This fruit disguised as a veggie is one of the true delights of Summer. Tomatoes increase the skin's natural defenses and boost your skin's ability to protect itself from harmful rays. They also help decrease blood pressure, and fight pancreatic and breast cancer. If you eat tomatoes four times a week, which is easy to do in the Summer, you can lower your cholesterol. Tomatoes are also a great source of lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that combats cancer-causing free radicals. Add tomatoes to your scrambled eggs and your sandwiches. Or make up a batch of Minty Tomato Couscous.
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