It’s summer—that amazing time of year when fresh produce abounds. Many of summer’s fruits and vegetables are brimming with secret health benefits. Here are some of my favorites and why they’re a particularly good choice in the summer.
Cilantro has numerous health benefits and is packed with nutrients such as fiber, iron, thiamine, zinc, folate, phosphorous, folate, vitamin K, and more,” says Ellis.
Plus, it has a great aroma and flavor that screams summer! Cilantro may increase the production of digestive acids, which can help stimulate the gut to move waste out. A healthy digestive tract is a key for weight loss, says Ellis.
“This sweet tropical fruit is the perfect ingredient for summer smoothies and juices,” says Beth Aldrich, a certified holistic health and nutrition counselor, and author of the book Real Moms Love to Eat.
“It contains the proteolytic enzyme bromelain, which aids in the digestion of protein and blood clot formation. As an anti-inflammatory super food, pineapple can help reduce swelling and in turn, you’ll have a flatter belly.”
3.Lemons and Limes
Both lemons and limes are excellent sources of Vitamin C, says Ellis, but it’s their flavor that aids in weight loss the most.
“We’ve all been told to drink lots of water, but sometimes water’s lackluster taste causes us to turn to other beverages.
Add lemon or lime juice to boost your water’s flavor and can help you drink more—staying hydrated may help suppress appetite, says Ellis.
Wheat often gets a bad rap when it comes to weight loss, but it can offer vital nutrients that are helpful for dieters, says Cohn.
The whole grains found in wheat (such as bulgur) are great sources of energy, as they are high in B vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
This flavorful, easy to use herb is rich in vitamin K, antioxidants, minerals, and omega-3 oils, says Cohn. “Plus, the natural aromatherapy of oregano makes you a happy eater—key for long-term success.”
Yogurt contains natural probiotics, which can help reduce tummy bloating, gas and constipation (often problematic while dieting).
Just choose Greek varieties, which are higher in protein, lower in added sugar, and creamy recommends Cohn.
A great energy source and naturally high in soluble fiber (the goopy, gelatinous fiber that promotes good digestion), oats are a great weight-loss food since so many diets cause constipation, says Cohn.
Eat them as a nourishing hot breakfast cereal or dry as granola.
“One cup of shredded Romaine lettuce is a mere 10 calories,” says Victoria Shanta Retelny, author of The Essential Guide to Healthy Healing Foods.
It’s also full of vitamins and has more fiber than it’s other leafy counterparts, so if you are hungry, toss up a salad with a drizzle of vinegar and oil for a filling, light meal or snack.
In addition to being nutritious, low-cal and full of fiber, cabbage is also a top source of sulfur, a mineral our bodies use to produce the natural hair-and-nail strengthener keratin, says Rey.
To stay slim and enjoy more beautiful hair and nails, whip up some vinegar-based coleslaw. Just stay away from creamy coleslaw; it can contain a whopping 19 grams of fat per cup!
10. Summer Squash
“One serving of summer squash (½ cup) is only 10 calories and contains 15 percent of your daily needs of vitamin C,” says Ellis.
“Grill it, add it to salads, or puree it and add it to baking. Summer squash is a low-calorie, nutrient-rich food that screams summer—literally!”
“Bananas contain a small amount of fiber and resistant starch, which have received recent attention for their potential role in boosting weight loss,”
says Ellis. Snacking on bananas is easy, convenient, and low cal. They’re also a great source of potassium, which can be lost in sweat during tough workouts or on hot summer days. Plus they make for nice drinks, like the Jamba Juice Triple Revitalizer with carrot and orange juice.
Naturally sweet and high in water content, cantaloupe is a great summer alternative to high-calorie and high-fat desserts like ice cream and cakes, says Maleeff.
“Enjoy this tasty melon for dessert, and watch the pounds fall off!”
Full of fiber and heart-healthy fats (including omega-3’s, which have shown to have metabolic-boosting benefits), walnuts are great to crunch on instead of “bad” fat-filled and salted potato chips. Just watch your portion size since nuts are high in calories.
“A cup of blackberries has only 62 calories and is packed with fiber and phytochemicals, including powerful flavonoids and anthocyanins, which help to speed stool and toxins through your digestive system,”
says Maleeff. Their high water and fiber content, plus sweet taste, make them the perfect refreshing summer weight-loss food. (These blackberry yogurt cheesecake parfaits are perfect for dessert!)
“Sweet potatoes are a great source of dietary fiber, which helps to reduce blood sugar and insulin spikes, ultimately reducing belly fat,” explains Shana Maleeffa a dietitian and fitness professional in New York City.
Maleeff suggests substituting a sweet potato for potato salad, potato chips, or mashed potatoes at BBQs to save hundreds of calories. (We also love this recipe for mashed roasted sweet potatoes ).
Rich in vitamin C and phytochemicals with antioxidant and anti-inﬂammatory properties, grapes may also protect against Type 2 diabetes, says Kara Ellis, a registered dietitian in New York City.
“Grapes also have a high water content, making them a refreshing summer snack that helps you feel full and satisfied (1 cup of fresh grapes contain only 100 calories).”
“Watermelon is my favorite summertime pound-shedding food,” says Jennifer Cassetta, a Clinical Nutritionist, and owner of Health and the City in New York City.
Watermelon is 92 percent water—it fills you up, is low in calories and yet still contains great amounts of nutrients and cancer-fighting antioxidants like Vitamin C and lycopene.
These sweet (and fuzz free), low-cal fruits are full of flavonoids, lycopene, and lutein, which help prevent disease and keep your eyes healthy. (We just love this nectarine and hazelnut salad !)
This fiber- and potassium-rich fruit makes the perfect summer snack.
At around 170 calories for 8 oz, you can eat them alone, in salads, in cereals, or wrapped in prosciutto (just don’t grab a Fig Newton—you’ll get more nutrition and less fat from the actual fruit).