by Jessica Toomer
The heat of summer brings fresh, delicious new fruits to add to our favorite healthy recipes. From seasonal staples like strawberries and watermelon to more exotic picks like mango, and superfoods like blueberries and pineapple, there are plenty of summer fruits worth adding to your diet this year. Here are the healthiest of them—with ways to easily incorporate them into your next meal.
There's a reason blueberries are often called a "superfood." These juicy little snacks are packed full of antioxidants that benefit multiple areas of the body. They boost the immune system, defend against stress and infection, can help improve memory in older adults and may even reduce the risk of chronic conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes and Alzheimer’s. They're also low in calories, fat and sugar, which means they're generally safe to consume, even if you do have a health issue like diabetes. We've found plenty of recipes that include this versatile fruit, including pies, cobblers and a refreshing smoothie for you to try.
Mangoes are often considered an "exotic" fruit and so many people don't include them in their summer diet. If that's you, you're missing out. Mangoes, which have a soft, sweet taste, contain high-levels of Vitamins C and E, iron, calcium and antioxidants that help lower cholesterol and blood pressure. There are plenty of ways to incorporate this magic fruit into your diet too, from pesto salads to salsas and mint granitas.
The fuzziest of fruits on this list, peaches are a summer food staple, especially if you happen to live in the South. They're juicy, sweet and delicious enough to enjoy on their own, or as a complement to a flavorful dish. They're high in Vitamin C and fiber, both essential to a healthy diet, but they're also a great source of antioxidants that prevent aging and disease. And they go with everything. From pickled peaches—a Dolly Parton favorite—to homemade peach ice cream and a grilled peach salad, there's no shortage of ways to munch on this summertime fruit.
This healthy tropical fruit comes to us from South America, but its health benefits are universal. Sweet and tangy, the flesh of a pineapple is ripe with vitamins and minerals that help maintain a strong metabolism, as well as antioxidants that prevent against heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers. The enzymes in pineapple can also aid digestion, while it's anti-inflammatory properties can reduce swelling and ease symptoms of arthritis. Really, there's nothing this superfruit can't do and there's no dish that can't benefit from its unique flavor. Try a fizzy summer cocktail or a spicy pineapple relish to start.
Cherries can be found in plenty of summer food favorites, but before you add them to your next pie or a refreshing drink, why not learn the nutritional benefits of these seasonal staples? Besides being a great source of fiber, Vitamin C and potassium, Cherries are also rich in anti-inflammatory compounds. This helps improve your physical fitness and make recovery time after a particularly hard workout faster. Cherries also contain melatonin, a natural compound that improves sleep. From teas to chocolate covered sweets, we've got a couple of ways to add even more of this tart fruit to your diet.
Maybe you already know that watermelon is 92% water, which means it's a great source of hydration on those hot summer days, but there's more to this fruit than just its refreshing makeup. It's also a low-calorie fruit filled with carotenoids (cancer-preventing compounds) and lycopene, a compound that improves heart health. Because it's summer, you don't really need a reason to enjoy this delicious fruit, but if you're looking for inventive recipe ideas, try this fruit Gazpacho, watermelon salsa or tropical punch.
Another summer favorite, these bright, juicy and sweet snacks can be found in everything from jams and jellies to desserts and drinks. They're made up mostly of fiber and simple sugars, which means they rarely cause spikes in blood sugar, and they also contain loads of Vitamin C, potassium and folate. Eating strawberries can help improve your heart health, decrease your risk of cancer, and regulate your blood sugar. Try adding them to a soup, a smoothie or a molasses recipe that'll take you from Summer to Fall.
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