April 11, 2014

Top 5 Summer Fruits


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With summer on the horizon, it's time to slim down and get ready for swimsuit season. While traditional health foods may be a delight, why not treat yourself to in-season fruits? Since fruit is low-calorie, you can eat your fill, feel satisfied and promote weight loss all once. With so many different fruits in season, you'll have plenty of variety to choose from to keep both mind and appetite interested.


There are more benefits to paying attention to fruit seasons in your area than just losing weight - in-season produce has more vitamins and minerals to nourish your body and improve your health. In-season means that the fruits are harvested during their natural growing cycle instead of being forcefully grown year-round. Buying locally ensures you're getting the most nutritious in-season summer fruits and supports your community. Don't be shy - head down to your local farmer's market, fill your bag with fruit and enjoy a delicious summer fruit salad every day this season!


Watermelon season in North America generally spans May to July. These thirst-quenching fruit has almost as much lycopene as tomatoes, contributing to the fruit's red color. Lycopene protects your heart health and can improve your bone strength as well. Watermelon also provides citrulline, which protects your kidneys and many other internal organs from free-radical damage.


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Eat all the watermelon you want, especially on hot days when you might be prone to dehydration. Each cup of cubes has just 45 calories with tons of potential to keep you full all day. A bowl of watermelon is the perfect summer finger food, so keep tons of it in the fridge to grab whenever you want a snack.


Blueberries practically represent summer by coming into season in early May and not leaving until late October. Of all summer fruits, blueberries are one of the most popular in North America, and for good reason. They have one of the highest antioxidant contents of any known food and thus offer a slew of health benefits. Antioxidants improve your immune system, protect your DNA, help repair damaged cells and fight cancer. Blueberries also benefit your nervous system and improve your memory. Locally-grown, organic blueberries have a higher concentration of beneficial antioxidants.


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A cup of fresh blueberries has 85 calories and, with so many benefits, eating several cups per day would serve only to improve your health. Replace snacks like chips, popcorn, pretzels and chocolate candy with blueberries to really benefit your waistline.


The sight of strawberries is the first glimpse of summer for many - they come into season in early April and stick around through the end of July in most areas of North America. Strawberries are among the healthiest foods you can find with their rich antioxidant quantities and high amount of vitamin C. One of their primary health benefits is an anti-inflammatory effect: eating strawberries can reduce unwanted inflammation in the joints and muscles to keep you moving all through summer.


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Each cup of strawberries has 46 calories, so eat up! Sliced strawberries sprinkled with a touch of sugar will produce tons of natural sugar that you can save to serve over meats, pancakes, salads and so much more. When you use strawberries in smoothies, don't be afraid to toss them in whole for the best health benefits and a bit more fiber.


Fresh apricots come into season in May and don't drop out of season until the end of August in most parts of North America. These gorgeous fruits are packed full of fiber, beta-carotene, vitamin C and vitamin A. A ripe apricot should be somewhat soft, have a golden color, velvety skin and creamy, sweet flesh.


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Apricots are small – at 17 calories each, you’re free to indulge. Chopped apricots are a delightful addition to a summer fruit salad, as their juicy flesh will coat everything with light, natural syrup. You could also try sliced apricots in milk as cereal, over grilled meats or with steamed vegetables.


Around June each summer you should start seeing grapes pop up at your local farmer's markets and fruit stands. These tart, juicy berries are amazing for your health and could help lengthen your life. The resveratrol in their skin - the same nutrient that makes red wine so beneficial - can slow aging and help your body get as much nutrition as possible from your foods.


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With just 100 calories per cup, you can snack on grapes freely without worrying about your waistline. Throw them in summer fruit salads or just keep a bunch easily-accessible on the table.

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