3 fabulous fruits to enjoy this summer
and surprisingly healthy
Fruits don’t just taste delicious; they’re also powerful cancer-fighting, heart-helping, weight-loss-supporting superstars.
Contrary to popular misconception, fruits and berries have even been found to reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes.
Summer is a great season to spend abundant time outdoors. One way to stay well and add enjoyment to your summer days is to eat more in-season fruits, just as nature intended.
Ah, summer. The temperatures heat up, the days get longer, and activities abound. Fresh fruits can help you survive (and thrive!) all season long.
Summer fruits give you energy and nutrients your body needs, help cool you down and stay hydrated, and can even help protect you from the sun.
And overall, fruits have been found to be spectacularly effective in treating and preventing a variety of health conditions.
For example, they have been found to help reduce heart disease. The province of North Karelia in Finland convinced local dairy farmers to grow berries on some of their pasturelands to increase fruit consumption and improve the health of its citizens.
By replacing animal-based foods with berries, along with other healthful changes, in only one generation, the region went from having one of the highest rates of heart disease in the world to one of the lowest. In a population of 170,000 Finns, cardiovascular mortality dropped by more than 70% — an unparalleled achievement.
Impressive! But that’s not all… Fruits have also helped patients all over the world lose weight and lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. And contrary to popular belief, fruits can reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Not to mention, fruit is naturally sweet (no added sugar needed) and oh so delicious — whether enjoyed on its own or in a smoothie, salad, dessert, or another dish.
Why Eat Fruit That’s In Season?
In today’s world, most fruits are available all year long.
But fruits in season are usually fresher, tastier, and more nutritious. When you eat foods the way nature intended, you get bright, crisp, flavorful, nutrient-rich foods.
Think for a moment about the joy of biting into a fresh, ripe piece of fruit, such as a peach. This is an entirely different experience than eating fruit that lacks the flavor and texture you expect, like out-of-season tomatoes.
Nature gives us foods designed to support our health at the time they’re grown. So when you consume fruits in season, you’re giving your body the nutrients it needs to do its job and keep you well. And you may even feel more connected and in-tune with nature.
Seasonal fruits are also better for you. Rather than being picked early, seasonal fruits are typically allowed to ripen naturally. So, the plant has more exposure to sun, and the fruit has higher levels of antioxidants.
Plus, in-season fruits are usually at their best price — which means you can eat healthfully andstick to your budget.
As much as possible, choosing locally grown, seasonal produce is often the best choice for your health and for the planet. (This way, produce doesn’t have to be picked rock-hard and transported over long distances).
Fruits in season are usually fresher, tastier, and more nutritious.
3 Summer Fruits That Are Stunningly Healthy and Naturally Delicious
Seeing more fruit at the farmers market and your local grocery store is a sure sign of summer.
The following three summer fruits are worth growing, picking, or selecting from the store. You’ll be surprised at how truly healthy they are…
Watermelons — Beat The Heat with These Refreshing Fruits
Public Domain from pixabay
With its bold red color and juicy taste, watermelon is a quintessential summer fruit.
It’s one of the more popular summer fruits (you can probably expect to see it at many parties and picnics). And it’s one of the most long-enjoyed fruits in the world — with its origins traced back 4,000 to 5,000 years to the continent of Africa.
Other than being fun to eat, watermelons are incredibly healthy. Plus, they are a great bargain food (one watermelon can feed up to a dozen people).
Watermelon season lasts from May through September. In the U.S. watermelons are grown across the country, but most are produced in warm states like Florida, Georgia, California, and Texas. Other key producers are North Carolina, South Carolina, Arizona, and Indiana.
And here’s a useful tool: If you’re in the U.S., you can scroll down on this link to see if there are watermelon growers near you.
Why watermelons are a healthy choice
Watermelon has a good level of vitamin B6 (which also helps the immune system). And it’s also a good source of potassium, a mineral necessary for water balance (and preventing muscle cramps) that also helps keep your heart healthy.
And this fruit is a fantastic source of lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that protects skin from sun damage. In fact, the bioavailability of lycopene from watermelon appears to be even greater than from red tomatoes.
- Prevent heat stroke
- Prevent cancer
- Boost your immune system
- Support eye health and prevent macular degeneration
- Support heart health and lower blood pressure
How to choose a watermelon
- Look for a firm, symmetrical watermelon that is free from bruises, dents, or cuts.
- Lift it up. The watermelon should be heavy for its size (because it’s mostly water).
- Turn it over. The underside of the watermelon should have a creamy yellow spot from where it sat on the ground and ripened in the sun. (A white or pale green spot suggests immaturity.)
- Also, you can knock on the watermelon. A fully ripened watermelon should have a deep, hollow sound when you knock on it, rather than a solid, shallow sound.
How to store watermelons
- Store whole watermelons at room temperature.
- Refrigerate cut watermelons in airtight containers and use within five days.
Fun facts about watermelons
Seedless watermelons are becoming more popular and available in the U.S. So you may wonder: Are they genetically modified? No, in fact, they are a hybrid, produced with cross-breeding, NOT genetic modification.
The watermelon flesh is delightful, but you can also eat the watermelon seeds (if it has any) and the watermelon rind.
Mangoes — Treat Yourself with These Sweet, Sun-Colored Fruits
Public Domain from pixabay
With their sweet, creamy taste, mangoes can help protect you from the summer heat and give you an energy boost.
This versatile tropical delicacy, sometimes known as the “king of fruit,” is another one of the most popular fruits in the world. In India, mangoes are sacred and thought to symbolize love.
Mangoes only ripen in the warmer months in summer. In the U.S., mangoes are grown in Florida, Hawaii, and southern California. India, China, Thailand, Indonesia, and Mexico are the world leaders in mango production.
Why mangoes are a healthy choice
Mangoes are much more than a sweet treat. All parts of the mango — bark, leaves, skin, and pit — have been used in folk remedies for treating and preventing a variety of ailments throughout the centuries.
They are an excellent source of vitamin A (good for your eyes and immune system) and vitamin C (which help fight infection and chronic disease) and a good source of potassium — in fact, they have even more of this mineral than bananas!
Plus, when you eat a mango, you’ll get the benefit of the antioxidant zeaxanthin, which filters out harmful blue light rays and helps protects eye health.
Though they can be very sweet, mangoes are relatively low on the glycemic index, so moderate quantities usually won’t spike blood sugar.
Mangoes can help:
- Fight heat stroke
- Boost the immune system
- Control blood sugar
- Help prevent cancer
- Improve eye health
- Ward off heart disease
How to choose a mango
- Pick up the mango and lightly squeeze it. A ripe mango will give slightly, like a peach. Avoid fruits with sap on them.
- Smell the mango at the stem. Ripe mangoes generally have a fragrant, sweet, fruity aroma.
Note: Mangoes are on the Environmental Working Group’s Clean Fifteen list, which means they have a relatively low amount of pesticides.
How to store mangoes
- Firm mangoes can be left on the counter at room temperature for a couple of days to ripen. (Or place the fruit in a paper bag with an apple to speed up the process.)
- You may be able to store ripe mangoes in the fridge for a few days without them going bad.
- Store cut mango in an airtight container in the fridge and eat within one to two days.
How to cut a mango
Freshly cut mangoes have a taste and experience like no other fruit, but getting to the delicious flesh can be quite challenging.
While there may be more than one way to cut a mango (and this method might not work for all mangoes) — hopefully, this video will help you:
For many people, the taste of fresh strawberries means summer has arrived. In fact, June’s full moon is called the Strawberry Moon because it signaled the right time to gather wild strawberries for the Algonquin tribes.
Strawberries are the most popular berry in the U.S. and one of the most popular fruits — but guess what? A strawberry is technically not a berry or a fruit. The seeds of the strawberry, which are on the outside, are the true fruits, and the red, fleshy part holds the approximately 200 seeds together.
The peak season for strawberries is April through June. They grow in every state in the U.S., with California being the leading producer by far. Florida and Georgia are also top producing states. And they are the state fruit in Delaware, which has about two dozen U-pick strawberry farms. Strawberries are also grown in every province of Canada.
In the U.S., you can scroll down on this link to see if there are strawberry producers in your area.
If you can grow or find local strawberries, you’ll likely get the best taste possible. And if you aren’t always impressed by supermarket berries, consider this: The natural sugar begins converting to starch after it’s picked, so berries can get tart and grainy over time.
Why strawberries are a healthy choice
Strawberries may be common, but they are wonderfully healthy.
Strawberries have been used throughout history as a general health tonic and for a variety of medical conditions, such as digestive issues, teeth whitening, and skin irritations.
They are one of the top 50 foods containing the most antioxidants per serving (according to a 2016 study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition) — so they are powerful disease-fighters.
Significant amounts of phytonutrients and flavonoids give them their bright color. Strawberries are high in vitamin C (more ounce for ounce than citrus fruit), fiber, and manganese (a trace mineral needed for many vital functions).
They are also a good source of potassium and folate (one of the B vitamins that converts carbs into energy, among other benefits). And they’re rich in antioxidants, such as quercetin, which is a natural anti-inflammatory.
Strawberries can help:
- Ward off cancer
- Boost your immunity
- Reduce inflammation
- Maintain healthy vision
- Lower the risk of cardiovascular disease
- Improved regulation of blood sugar, especially when consumed after a meal
How to choose strawberries
- Choose shiny, firm, plump strawberries with a bright red color. Caps should be bright green and intact. (Once picked, they don’t ripen further.)
- Avoid shriveled, mushy or leaky berries.
Note: If possible, choose organic strawberries to avoid pesticides. Strawberries are on the EWG’s Dirty Dozen list of produce with the most pesticides. Even worse, the pesticides used in conventional production are some of the most toxic.
How to store strawberries
- Do not wash until ready to eat. Store in the fridge (in the crisper drawer if possible) for three to five days.
- If one berry in the basket or bowl is molded, this means mold spores have probably traveledthroughout the entire package, so all the strawberries should be washed well or, depending on the level of contamination, discarded.
Fun fact: When you remove the green cap, you tear cells in the fruit, activating an enzyme that destroys vitamin C — so only remove the leaves just before consuming or serving.
And Here’s A List of Summer Fruits:
- Blueberries (learn all about their health benefits here)
How to Find Out Which Fruits Are In Season Near You
Not all summer fruits may be available in your area. These tools and others may help you find which fruits are grown where you live:
- The United States — Use this online seasonal food guide to search by state and time of year to see what produce is in season.
- Canada — This online guide shows you what’s in season.
- Australia — This online seasonal food guide shows you fruits in season by region.
- The United Kingdom — This online resource tells you what foods are in season.
Celebrate Your Summer with the Taste of Fresh Fruit
You probably have fond memories of eating fresh fruits in the summertime, either fresh-picked or from the store.
I especially loved sitting in the grass and eating watermelon with a sprinkle of salt and having watermelon-seed-spitting contests with my family and picking fresh blueberries with my grandmother.
And every summer gives you opportunities to create new memories you and your loved ones can cherish for years to come.
Your body will thank you, too. Eating fresh fruit quenches your thirst and is an instantly cooling snack. Consuming summer fruits will also help you look and feel your best — and can help you avoid common seasonal health issues, such as dehydration and nutrient deficiencies from being outdoors and sweating.
With their vibrant colors and tastes and their abundant nutrition at their peaks, now is the time (in the Northern Hemisphere) to enjoy summer fruits. No matter how you eat them, if they’re ripe, they are sure to be delicious.