Fresh, summer produce makes healthy eating a snap

We’ve waited long enough for these summertime delights!

blueberries blogMichigan farmers markets and roadside stands are open, offering fresh-from-the-farm fruits and vegetables. Right now is the best time to get the following healthy, locally grown summer produce:

  • Basil comes a variety of flavors, including Sweet Genovese, cinnamon, lemon, opal and Thai basil. A small portion of basil (2 chopped tablespoons) has trace amounts of many minerals and vitamins such as magnesium, potassium, folate and Vitamins A and K.
  • Blackberries and blueberries are in season July through August. Enjoy these sweet, ripe, juicy local berries — one of the great treats of summer. Added benefit: They’re naturally low in calories and high in nutrients.
  • Butter lettuce Soft and tender, butter lettuce (also called Boston or Bibb) contains plenty of Vitamin K – along with C and A. Vitamin K in particular promotes good bone health. Lettuce, in general, is also full of folates, a water-soluble version of Vitamin B that helps boost the body’s ability to produce cells.
  • Fresh, sweet corn is in season mid June through August. Besides being a delicious addition to any meal, it is also rich in phytochemicals. According to researchers, corn oil has been shown to have an anti-atherogenic effect on cholesterol levels, thus reducing the risk of various cardiovascular diseases.
  • Sweet cherries are in season from late spring through early summer. They’re high in fiber and potassium and low in calories: one cup of cherries is about 100 calories. Cherries are full of anthocyanins, a type of phytochemical believed to be high in antioxidant activity.
  • Fresh peas such as sugar snap peas, snow peas and green peas are at their peak from April through July. As part of the legume family, peas are low in fat and high in fiber and are a good source of plant protein.
  • Flavorful and low in calories, radishes offer a distinctive flavor and are a good source of vitamin C. Choose radishes that are deep in color with solid roots for the best flavor.
  • Apricots pack beta-carotene, potassium, vitamin C and fiber and are a low-calorie choice to satisfy your sweet tooth. Apricots are in peak season from May to August. Grilling apricots brings out their sweetness.
  • Technically a vegetable, rhubarb is often used as a fruit in pies and jams. In season from April through July, rhubarb stalks area good source of vitamin C, potassium and manganese.

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Healthy seasonal foods

Many area farmers markets are in full swing, offering healthy seasonal foods that are locally and regionally grown. Right now is the best time to get these in-season selections:

  • Asparagus — at its peak from March through June — contains high levels of the amino acidAsparagus image for the blog 320x320 asparagine, a natural diuretic. Increased urination releases fluid and helps rid the body of excess salts, which benefits those who have high blood pressure or other heart-related diseases. It is also low in fat, high in fiber and a good source of iron, B vitamins and vitamin C. Roast them on the grill or sauté in olive oil for a delicious, healthy addition to your meal.
  • Strawberry season runs from April through June. One cup offers 3.5 grams of fiber and meets 100 percent of your daily vitamin C needs. Buy strawberries grown close to home for the best flavor, choosing the ones that are plump, firm and uniform in color.
  • Sweet cherries are in season from late spring through early summer. They’re high in fiber and potassium and low in calories: one cup of cherries is about 100 calories. Cherries are full of anthocyanins, a type of phytochemical believed to be high in antioxidant activity.

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