Seasonal Fruits to Enjoy in Summer
If you enjoy eating healthy, then you are probably aware that certain fruits are best during certain times of the year. Not only are seasonal fruits at their ripest and most delectable at their peak season, but you can often find them at their cheapest price because they are in abundance. So mark your calendar for your favorite seasonal fruits and enjoy!
Why Fruit Is the Perfect Summer Food
When the weather gets hot, there are few things better than a cool, juicy piece of watermelon or cantaloupe to fill you until your next bite to eat or top off a grand meal. That sweet fruit you are consuming also has some important health benefits.
- Just the right amount of sweetness—honestly, we all crave something sweet from time to time. While we can satisfy our sweet tooth with an overly saccharine piece of candy or cola, nature has provided the ideal solution—fruit. Although there is sugar in fruit, the also present fiber slows the digestion of these sugars so that there isn’t a blood glucose surge.
- We evolved together—humans and fruit are ideally suited for each other because nature designed us in tandem. Mammals and fruiting plants appeared at about the same time; fruit has an innate appeal for us that many other foods do not. This is evidenced by our physiological responses to ripe fruit. As fruit ripens, its intoxicating odor and colorful appearance triggers our limbic system which evokes memories and emotions.
- Extremely nutritious—fruit has an abundance of vitamins, minerals, fiber and water that is ideal for our digestive systems. It has even been argued that fruit has been naturally tailored for our bodies so that plants can spread their seeds farther.
- Boost your mood—one study in the British Journal of Health Psychology concluded that fruits and vegetables can make you happier, calmer and more energetic. Research suggests that the complex carbohydrates in fresh fruit can boost levels of serotonin which improve mood and cognitive function.
- Improve overall health—one impressive social experiment in which the Finnish government convinced dairy farmers to produce more berries led to a 70 percent drop in cardiovascular mortality among 170,000 Finns. Fruit has also been linked to weight loss, lower cholesterol, and a lower risk of type 2 diabetes.
- Stave off dehydration—you may not realize how much water you are losing while working, exercising, or just sitting out in the summer sun until you eat some juicy fruit. Certain summer fruits like watermelon or cantaloupe have such a high water content, that they can hydrate you with just one or two servings.
- Anti-cancer properties—most fruits improve health in one way or another, but certain fruits like grapefruit, mulberries and lemons may have unique properties that help prevent or slow the progression of some cancers.
Here are some of the best fruits to keep an eye out for during the summer months.
- Berries—Blueberries have the longest window for peak ripeness, extending from April to September, but raspberries also are ripe from July to October. Strawberries are best from April to June, while blackberries are great in June and July. Berries are rich in fiber and antioxidants which benefit your digestive and immune systems.
- Stone fruits—fruits like peaches, plums, cherries, apricots, nectarines, and mangoes are ideal from May to September. Although all of these are delicious fresh, many can be transformed into sweet dishes like cakes, pies, or parfaits with outstanding results. Stone fruits are also rich in antioxidants, vitamins and flavonoids (which help reduce stress and inflammation).
- Watermelon—no other fruit is so synonymous with summer as watermelon. There are some good reasons to enjoy this sweet fruit in the summer including its peak season is July and August. Moreover, 92 percent of a watermelon is water which makes it the most hydrating fruit in nature. It has similar nutritional benefits as other fruits, but it is also superior in one key aspect—it has less calories than most other fruits.
- Grapes—not only are grapes a portable and delicious summer fruit, but they also are rich in antioxidants and polyphenols which boost immune function and brain health. Some studies even suggest that grapes may help fight off breast cancer.
- Mangoes—mangoes are replete with more than 20 vitamins and minerals, as well as dietary fiber. Additionally, mangoes are an excellent source of the pigment zeaxanthin which protects the eyes by filtering out damaging blue rays of light.
- Plums—typically in season from June to August, plums are a good source of fiber and sorbitol which help in digestion. This succulent summer fruit also provides health benefits like improving heart health, preventing stroke, stabilizing blood pressure, and lowering the risk of diabetes. Plums also contain anthocyanins which may have anti-cancer properties.
The Best Way to Eat Summer Fruits
It almost goes without saying that the healthiest way to consume summer fruit is to eat them as nature intended—raw and as fresh as possible. While fresh fruit is very nutritious and appetizing, there are also some alternatives that you also may want to consider.
- Fruit salad—in addition to offering fresh fruit, fruit salads combine these wonderful flavors in some creative ways. Adding spices, dressings and nuts can wonderfully accent these flavors, and the right combination of bright fruits can provide some visual flair to any meal.
- Smoothies—these delicious blended drinks can be quite healthy and filling if prepared properly. Use fresh fruit and fruit juice to make your own smoothies rather than pre-made drinks which often have added sugar and less dietary fiber.
- Frozen fruit—it may come as a surprise that frozen fruits can be better for you than fresh, but only at times of the year when the fruit is not in season. Furthermore, frozen fruit may be cleaner because many of us don’t properly wash fresh produce. You can also enjoy frozen fruit as a substitute for ice in your favorite summer drink.
Article written by: Dr. Robert Moghim – CEO/Founder Colorado Pain Care
M.D. Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the personal views of Robert Moghim, M.D. and do not necessarily represent and are not intended to represent the views of the company or its employees. The information contained in this article does not constitute medical advice, nor does reading or accessing this information create a patient-provider relationship. Comments that you post will be shared with all visitors to this page. The comment feature is not governed by HIPAA, and you should not post any of your private health information.