By Chris Walsh
The lazy, hazy, hot days of summer are a good time to be creative with your food choices. The weather is perfect for grilling, trying new cold salads, experimenting with spices and eating plenty of fruit. What we eat effects our overall good health and of course, our workouts! I have compiled a list of some great foods to consider adding to your summer diet:
What says better than corn on the cob? Corn is a great source of lutein, a powerful antioxidant that may help lower the risk of age-related macular degeneration, a common cause of blindness in older adults. Cooking sweet corn unleashes beneficial antioxidants that can reduce your risk of heart disease and cancer.
Watermelon is a summer favorite and is a great quencher packed with vitamin A and C, potassium and lycopene. It helps regulate arterial function and may lower blood pressure. Its great on a hot day because of it’s water content. Cut open a watermelon today!
Celery is stocked full of nutrients as well, including anti-inflammatory compounds that help the digestive tract and vitamins like folate, K and C. It can be chopped up in salads and is a great way to dip!
Who doesn’t like to eat sunflower seeds at a ballgame, fishing or the golf course? Sunflower seeds are a terrific source of vitamin E—a quarter cup provides more than 90 percent of your daily recommendations.. .
Summer is better with a hot dog piled with sauerkraut, right? Go ahead, pile it on, as fermented foods are a unique source of probiotics, which help maintain a healthy balance of bacteria in your gut.
If we are still talking hot dogs, then you may be surprised to learn that this beloved condiment is way more than a hot dog topper. Mustard contains selenium, a mineral with antioxidants that may help prevent cardiovascular disease, boost your immune system, and protect against certain cancers.
Are you watching your waistline this summer? Peaches are a healthy way to add sweets to your diet; because they’re a good source of dietary fiber, they keep you full and satisfied. The flesh of peaches (and nectarines) is rich in antioxidants that help to protect against cancer and other chronic diseases.
Another delicious treat in the summer are cherries. Get ready to pucker up because just 1.5 cups of tart cherries can increase levels of antioxidants, specifically anthocyanins, which combat inflammatory diseases and heart conditions.
Peanut butter is the go anywhere food. It’s perfect for baseball games, long hikes, bike rides and picnics, peanuts are rich in plant compounds called sterols, one of the best cholesterol busters. They’re also a great source of protein, fiber, and vitamin E. Be a label reader and choose peanut butters without added sugar, salt, or trans fats, and choose unsalted peanuts to cut down on sodium.
Summer says bring on the guacamole! Al though one half-cup serving of avocado contains 120 calories (100 of them from fat), avocados contain healthy fat and are rich in plant sterols that lower cholesterol. Healthy monounsaturated fats (like those in avocado and oil) also help your body absorb antioxidants that fight cancer.
Around here we have zucchini coming out our ears by the end of summer! A cup of raw sliced zucchini has only 20 calories and provides 28 mcg of folate, about 7 percent of the adult RDA. It is a great source of Vitamin C and potassium. Zucchini has a high water content and is a healthy blend for baked goods. Try it on the grill with some olive oil drizzled over it and some seasonings!
Lastly and possibly the best…..fresh garden tomatoes! If your garden gifts you with a bounty of tomatoes, pretty much your entire body will benefit. A well-known Harvard study showed that men who regularly ate tomato-based foods had lower rates of prostate cancer. Tomatoes are heart healthy and aid in protecting us from heart disease. If a friend wants to share their tomatoes with you, just say yes!
The list goes on and on and anytime you can find farm fresh, garden grown foods, stock up! Summer is the time to be creative, eat a variety of colors and textures and enjoy living in farm country USA!! Eating good food is a way to becoming the BEST version of YOU!