Forget the bananas and oranges. Pass on the imported berries, too. At least for the next two months.
Now is the time of year we’re able to enjoy in-season, locally-grown fruit picked at its peak of ripeness, providing maximum flavour and nutrition.
If your diet lacks fruit, here are a few incentives to up your game. Eating more fruit has been tied to a lower risk of heart attack, stroke and type 2 diabetes. Berries, especially blueberries and strawberries, may also help guard against Alzheimer’s disease.
Most of us could stand to eat more fruit. As a dietitian who evaluates people’s diets, I often find that fruit is a forgotten component in busy people’s diets.
Here are four in-season, nutrition powerhouses to include in your summer diet. But don’t wait. They won’t be around for long.
Photo by Adobe Stock/pilipphoto.
Blackberries. Their dark colour signals their exceptionally high concentration of anthocyanins, powerful antioxidants associated with heart health and improved cognitive function. They’re also a decent source of fibre (8 g per cup), bone-strengthening vitamin K, vitamin C and folate.
How to enjoy: Add fresh blackberries yogurt parfaits, toss them into leafy green salads or mix them (mashed or pureed) into a vinaigrette salad dressing.
Cantaloupe. This is one fruit you’ll want to include in your post workout snack. Thanks to its hefty water content—90 percent—cantaloupe helps hydrate the body.
It also delivers plenty of potassium, a mineral that gets sweated away during exercise. One cup of cantaloupe chunks provides 427 mg of potassium, equivalent to what’s found in a medium banana.
How to enjoy: Top fish and shrimp tacos with a salsa made with diced cantaloupe, minced onion and cilantro. Fill the cavity of half a cantaloupe with Greek yogurt for breakfast or a snack. Add balls of cantaloupe to a pitcher of water to infuse flavour.
Cherries. Dark sweet cherries are a good source of disease-fighting anthocyanins, providing roughly one-third of the amount found in blackberries. One cup of cherries with pits (about 17) also supplies 3 g of satiating fibre along with potassium, vitamin C and lutein, a phytochemical that protects our eyes from free radical damage.
How to enjoy: Eat them fresh out of your hand for dessert or a snack (the best!). Pit them (a cherry pitter works best) to add to fruit crumbles and berry pies. Freeze pitted cherries to blend later into smoothies or mix into muffin batter.
Watermelon. Made up of 91 percent water, watermelon helps quench your thirst on a hot summer day. Preliminary research, published in 2013, also suggests that watermelon can reduce post-exercise muscle soreness thanks to L-citrulline, an amino acid that’s used to relax blood vessels.
This quintessential summer fruit is also packed with lycopene, a phytochemical that’s studied for its potential role to protect against heart disease and certain cancers.
How to enjoy: Add diced watermelon to a spinach salad topped with crumbled feta cheese and drizzled with balsamic vinaigrette. For a post workout drink, blend 2 to 3 cups of watermelon chunks until smooth (strain if desired).