RACHEL TO, MS RD CDN
All fruits can fit on your plate – but these are the healthiest fruits to eat during the peak summer season and ideas on how to enjoy them.
Let’s remember, ALL fruits are healthy (and diets that tell you otherwise are wrong!). However, it is true that some fruits contain more important nutritional components than others, such as more vitamins and minerals, antioxidants, and fiber. These are vital to our overall health and can even have protective factors against diseases like cancer, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. The USDA recommends that everyone eat 4-5 or more servings of fruits and vegetables per day.
My intern Sarah Johnston and I looked at all of the fruits of the season and made this list based on the composition with the highest nutrient density. But you don’t have to limit yourself to these five: every fruit can find a place on your plate! Here we share some inventive ways to enjoy this treasure trove of nutrients all summer long. Tag me @naartrition (Rachel Naar MS, RD, CDN by Rachel Naar Nutrition) and use the hashtag #summerfruit so we can see your delicious creations!
Okay, we may have cheated a bit here. This is not a single fruit, but a whole group of nutritious wonders! And what’s even better, you’re getting a real bang for your buck as these berries are at their highest nutritional quality in summer. These mini-caches contain incredible amounts of all of our favorite nutritional components, such as the antioxidant group anthocyanins, whose benefits include potential protection against chronic disease and cancer, and can promote visual health.
Berries also have higher amounts of fiber compared to other fruits, and consumption of this can help maintain a healthier digestive system, regulate bowel movements, provide a shield against immune function and the response to inflammation, and reduce the risk of chronic disease. Sprinkle one of these berries over your oatmeal, pancakes, toast, yogurt, or ice cream. Or combine all of these berries into a delicious, antioxidant cobbler.
Related Reading: These Savory Berry Recipes Are Pretty Sweet
Who doesn’t love killing two birds with one stone? In this case, our multitasker is vitamin C and even half a grapefruit can provide over 60 percent of the recommended daily dose. This vitamin is also an antioxidant, along with all of its other important roles as an essential vitamin, including supporting your immune system, helping iron absorption, and building collagen for healthy tendons, ligaments, bones, and skin. Since vitamin C is also an antioxidant, regular intake can help reduce the risk of chronic disease.
Integrate grapefruit on your table as an additional addition to breakfast or as a spicy taste in your salads. Also try mixing chopped grapefruit slices with pomegranate seeds and sliced avocado (squeeze lime juice on top) for a grapefruit and pomegranate salsa!
But be warned, grapefruit can be contraindicated with some medications. So ask your doctor or pharmacist before pampering yourself.
Lemons aren’t just there to dye your hair lighter in the summer sun (or to make lemonade)! Their acidic juices are filled with a group of antioxidants called flavonoids. Growing scientific research has shown that flavonoids are anti-inflammatory and contain potentially anti-cancer properties. We know most of you won’t slice a lemon and eat it like an apple, so try adding lemons to your water along with mint leaves or blueberries. This will keep you hydrated and refreshed and provide you with a great source of these flavonoids. Also, try baking lemon wedges over salmon or squeezing lemon juice over a fresh salad.
This may be one of the most surprising products on our list, but summer is the perfect time to keep an eye out for this cute succulent as it thrives in warmer climates. The passion fruit can have a purple or yellow skin and should be eaten with the seeds to maintain its fiber benefits. Passion fruit is a good source of some B vitamins like riboflavin and niacin, both of which are important for cell health and the production of the energy our bodies need. Like all of the other fruits on this list, passion fruit is a great source of antioxidants, including flavonoids. Create passion fruit salad dressings or add them to your next batch of sangria.
What better way to stay hydrated in the summer heat than with a giant slice (or multiple slices, who are we kidding) of watermelon? Interesting facts: watermelon is 92 percent water! The other 8 percent is made up of carbohydrates, vitamins A and C, and minerals, including exceptional amounts of potassium. Potassium is important for muscle health and fluid balance, and a diet rich in potassium can help lower blood pressure. Additionally, watermelon is a great source of the preeminent antioxidant lycopene, which is also antihypertensive and has been linked to anti-cancer properties.
Caramelize its sweet taste by grilling and salting it, or combine it with savory cheeses like feta or parmesan and sprinkle it with a balsamic drizzle.
Related Reading: 15 Watermelon Recipes You Must Try This Summer
All fruits bring a number of healthy components to your table, so eating a wide variety of fruits and vegetables is a good idea. Our most important tip: eat the rainbow. Try eating a fruit or vegetable from every color of the rainbow every day or all week to get the full array of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, and fiber that fruits and vegetables have to offer.