Fresh is definitely best. Not just because of flavor, but also when it comes to getting an immunity boost. Eating summer fruits and vegetables for immunity in the peak of their season is a sure way to know you’re getting the most nutrients possible, and in turn the maximum health benefits.
This is pretty much the greatest season for eating fresh and building up your immunity. Between home gardens, farmers markets, and in-season veggies at grocery stores, you have so many options for yummy, good-for-you foods.
“Fruits and vegetables should make up a large portion of your daily diet as they provide numerous health benefits and are typically low in calories,” says registered dietician, Tabitha Nicholas.
She’s based in Louisiana and works both with individuals for private coaching at Nicholas Nutrition and Optimal Wellness and in public health, providing medical nutrition therapy for people with chronic kidney disease and diabetes. She says fruits and veggies are all full of micronutrients and antioxidants, so you can’t really go wrong with any of them. However, if you’re looking to maximize your immunity boost even more, consider checking out these specific summer foods and how they are good for your health.
Broccoli helps prevent cancer.
“Broccoli may play a role in cancer prevention and immune support,” says Nicholas. “It’s a good source of vitamin K, vitamin C, and fiber.” This green veggie really does live up to its reputation as being a superfood. It’s incredibly low in calories and high in antioxidants, even being known for being a good cancer-fighting food. You’ll likely never have a dietician tell you to cut back on your broccoli consumption.
While some people don’t love it raw, Nicholas says you can still retain most of its nutritional value by eating it lightly steamed. Add your garlic, onions, or your favorite seasoning, and it’s the perfect side to any main dish. Plus, if you’ve never had farm-fresh broccoli, seek it at a farmers market. You just might find that you like it a lot more than the regular store-bought stuff.
Cantaloupe supports healthy vision.
While carrots usually get all the attention for being rich in beta-carotene (aka great for vision), this is also true for cantaloupe. According to Nicholas, this melon is full of Vitamin C, A, and it’s also a good source of potassium. In fact, a single cup of cantaloupe (which is only 55 calories thanks to its high water content) will get you all the Vitamin A you need in a single day. To choose a good cantaloupe, pick it up and give it a gentle sniff where the vine was once attached. You’ll know right away if it has a sweet scent. If you do get a cantaloupe on the green side, leave it out a couple of days to continue ripening.
Blueberries help reduce the risk of chronic diseases.
Pretty much all berries will do you good when it comes getting an immunity boost, and blueberries are some of the best. They have a long list of benefits including vitamin C, vitamin A, potassium, and serving as a good source of dietary fiber. They’re known for helping lower your risk of heart disease and cancer. Plus, when you have them in peak season, they’re even better. Throw them in fruit salads, in muffins, and smoothies to get the most use out of them while there’s plenty of them to go around.
Peppers give you a megadose of vitamin C.
Citrus gets all the credit for vitamin C, but peppers have even more. A single serving of peppers will give you about twice the recommended amount of vitamin C in a day. Plus as Nicholas points out, red peppers have an even better reputation when it comes to beta carotene (good for vision), quercetin (reduces inflammation), and antioxidants in general. There are so many peppers on the market today to choose from, so try them all! You can feel good knowing you’re having a healthy snack, and they’re all good for your health.
Corn is great for digestion.
Corn can be a somewhat controversial veggie because it can be starchy, carby, and is sometimes a genetically modified crop. However, it also has a lot of vitamins, minerals, and is a great source of fiber, aiding in overall digestion. Nicholas says, “Corn containers vitamin C and magnesium, which can help support a healthy immune system.” Corn on the cob is one way to eat this veggie, but there are so many other ways, too. It can also be great for salsa, in salads, and more. Check out some fun ways to eat corn right here.
Tomatoes keep you energized and healthy.
If tomatoes are not the official fruit of summer, then they should be. (By the way, did you know tomatoes really can be considered both fruits and vegetables?) You can’t beat the taste of homegrown tomatoes, and they truly are a superfood. Rich in vitamins A, B, E, and C, they help you power up and build strong immunity. They also have a reputation for fighting heart disease and certain types of cancer. Eat this popular summer food any way you want, including raw, in salsa, on salads and sandwiches, or juiced up in a bloody Mary. You can feel good knowing they’re doing their part to improve your health.
Leafy greens promote a healthy gut.
You can’t deny the benefits of leafy greens. Pretty much all leafy veggies are good for gut health and an immunity boost, though the darker, the better is often the case. Spinach, kale, and other lettuces are all good for vitamins C and K. They are also a good source of folate (B-9), which is good for healthy cell growth. Nicholas realizes not everyone naturally likes leafy greens, and she recommends eating them the same way she likes to cook Brussel sprouts — in a small amount of unrefined olive oil and avocado oil, along with some added onion, garlic, or bell peppers. She also recommends throwing them into smoothies or fruit juices.