June: National Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Month
Summer is here, and the produce department has never looked more colorful. In celebration of National Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Month, we’re compiling a list of the most nutritious leafy, sweet, and fleshy fruits and vegetables out there. Forget boring. We’re going beyond the norm, and checking out the correlation between color and antioxidant level. We’re also going to give you a list of fruits and vegetables that relieve certain ailments and reduce blood pressure, cholesterol. Oh, and the likelihood of heart disease. Sweet.
Pomegranates. Talk about healthy. Filled with polyphenols, these intriguing reddish fruits protect the body against free radicals – harmful substances that may put you at risk for diseases including cancer. They’re also loaded with vitamins and have a surplus of fiber. So many benefits, so little time. Plus – they’re super fun to eat. A hard, round fruit filled with edible seeds that are bursting with syrupy, sweet juice.
Tomatoes. Plump, red goodness. Imagine the world without tomatoes – no ketchup, no sauce, no pizza. Yikes. Tomatoes are packed with lycopene – an antioxidant that has been shown to fight off certain forms of cancer. Plus, they’re a critical ingredient in the kitchen. Whether you’re whipping up a tomato and mozzarella salad or homemade sauce – the world would be a sad place without these succulent fruits. (Yes, I said fruits.)
Apples. Now, we’ve all heard the saying, “An apple a day will keep the doctor away.” But do you really know the multitude of health benefits behind the apple? Did you know they reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, asthma and even some cancers? Filled with a variety of potent antioxidants, fresh apples are a weapon against many diseases, plus, they’re delicious. It’s been said that golden delicious is one of the healthiest of the bunch.
Avocados. I can’t imagine summer without avocados. Whether I’m whipping up homemade guacamole or adding some slices to my morning omelet, this buttery, creamy fruit is here to stay. That’s right, an avocado is a fruit. So whether you’re looking to strengthen your bones and teeth or fight an inflammatory condition – the avocado is for you. And as my brother would say, “Avocados are made up of good fats. Don’t get confused when seeing a high fat content. It’s good fat. Healthy, unsaturated fat.”
Kale. According to mindbodygreen.com, one cup of kale has only 36 calories, 5 grams of fiber and 0 grams of fat. I was never able to scarf it down, until I learned how to properly prepare it. My favorite way to cook kale is on the BBQ or in the oven – on a cookie sheet. Lay out pieces of kale, rub with a small bit of extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder.
For a spicy punch, add some red pepper flakes or paprika. Yum. After 15-20 minutes, they’ll shrivel up into crunchy, delicious chips. In many food stores, they charge $6-7 a carton. Beyond being delicious, they’re high in iron, vitamin k and detoxify your liver and keep you in tip top shape. Talk about a win win situation.
Berries. In addition to their high vitamin C content, berries outweigh most desserts in flavor and satisfaction. Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries – the list goes on and on. High in folic acid, antioxidants and fiber – the health benefits are outrageous. Whether you buy them fresh, frozen or dehydrated try to add 1-2 cups of berries into your daily intake. Sweet. Literally.