Eat Your Way to Better Health this Summer
As spring turns into summer, grocery stores and farmers markets begin to overflow with an abundance of succulent fresh produce. Making the most of the season’s harvest is a delicious way to get the nutrition your body needs. There are, however, a handful of veggies that can increase inflammation, so here is a quick and handy guide of what veggies have anti-inflammatory properties, and what you may want to avoid.
Berries, Stone Fruit, and Melons, Oh My!
Strawberries may pop up in the spring, but they stay in harvest through early summer and are then supplanted by red raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries. Bursting with vitamin C and antioxidants, they are a colorful and healthy addition to cereal and salads alike. Sprinkle them with just a touch of Stevia and they are a dessert in themselves. Sweet-tart peaches, nectarines, plums, and apricots are equally delectable eaten plain. Low in sugar and calories, but high in fiber, potassium, vitamin A and vitamin C, they are a boon to anyone who wants to eat healthily. And let’s not forget about cherries, some varieties of which are known for their anti-inflammatory properties. Grab a handful and enjoy! Did you know they also have naturally occurring melatonin which aids in good sleep? Other treats to enjoy this summer are colorful melons that become breakfast beauties and sweet endings to backyard barbecues. Honeydew, cantaloupe, and watermelons not only contain lots of water, important for lubricating joints, but cantaloupe in particular packs a powerful nutritional punch with beta-carotene, vitamin K, and folate, as well as other vitamins and minerals.
Eat Your Colors
Carrots, corn, and cucumbers are all in abundance during the warmer months and can be enjoyed with other summer vegetables such as radishes, beets, zucchini, and yellow squash. The great thing about enjoying all of these veggies is that they span the rainbow, which means they provide a diversity of nutritional benefits. Nutritionists suggest eating a variety of colors when it comes to fruits and vegetables, and to get at least four or five servings daily. You might try pairing any of the above seasonal vegetables with kale, which can be grown year-round and is packed with nutrients and anti-inflammatory properties.
Be Cautious with These
Everyone’s body is different, so it would not be appropriate to say “don’t eat this or that” because there are no hard and fast rules around inflammation. Take the tomato, one of the summer’s most succulent fruits (that many people think of as a vegetable), for example. While some nutrition sources would put it up there as an anti-inflammatory food, it is also in the nightshade family, a group of fruits and vegetables – including white potatoes, peppers, and eggplant – that can increase inflammation in some people. The key here is to listen to your body. If you can’t imagine summer without ripe red tomatoes, then go for it! But as with any food, take note if your body starts to react. If it doesn’t, then take advantage of the health benefits that all summer fruits and vegetables have to offer.