Summer is the perfect time to put the focus on healthy eating. Fresh, beautiful produce abounds, plus it’s hot out, which means we’re craving lighter fare rather than giant bowls of pasta or other carb-heavy meals. This summer we rounded up some of the best foods to add to your shopping list.
This sunny-hued summer fruit not only provides you with more than your daily requirement of vitamins A and C, it also contains fiber, magnesium and antioxidants. Mangoes are also high in iron, making them a great option for women with iron deficiency (anemia), explains Batayneh. Another bonus: Mangoes aid in digestion, but to get the benefits you want to focus on eating the fruit versus drinking the juice, she advises. “Mangoes are a great way to satisfy a sweet tooth as well as to help to ward off other cravings.” Make a cooling summer sip by blending mangoes, low-fat plain yogurt, frozen raspberries and honey to taste.
Both fresh and dried figs are loaded with vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, B1 and B2, calcium, iron, phosphorus, manganese and potassium. Aside from being nutritionally power-packed, they can also help with weight loss. “The No. 1 reason why figs can help you lose and manage weight is because they contain high amounts of dietary fiber,” says Batayneh. “Fiber-rich foods have a positive effect on weight management, as fiber helps eliminate fat and toxins in the body by flushing them out.” Fiber also improves metabolism and digestion, preventing fats from getting stuck in unwanted places, she explains. Every three figs will add five grams of fiber to your diet. Add chopped, dried figs to granola, cookies, muffins and trail mix for an easy fiber boost.
Nothing says summer like biting into a ripe, juicy peach. Batayneh suggests eating a peach between meals this summer as a healthy, satisfying snack. “Peaches are known to suppress your appetite simply because of the fiber content,” she explains. They also contain niacin, potassium and vitamins A and C. Try to incorporate peaches into existing meals — chop them into a salad or even a salsa, toss them into some cottage cheese with berries or just eat them as is.
Another fruit that’s plentiful in the summertime, plums come in at a mere 30 calories for a medium fruit. “You will be getting vitamins A, B and C, potassium and fiber. These nutrients will help protect your cells, keep your heart healthy and boost immunity,” Batayneh says. Plums are delicious served in yogurt, sliced into salads or prepared as a compote for healthy dessert dishes.
These summer fruits contain the mineral boron, a nutrient that helps to stabilize hormones, which in turn helps to calm cravings due to PMS and menopause, explains Batayneh. “In addition, nectarines contain beta-carotene, vitamins B1, B2 and B3, iron and calcium.” She suggests grilling or baking nectarine halves sprinkled with honey and cinnamon for a delicious dessert.
Jicama contains potassium, iron and calcium. The crunchy vegetable is also high in vitamin C, ellagic acid and fiber. “The ellagic acid helps the body break down fructose while reducing levels of weight-sabotaging inflammation,” Batayneh notes. “Because jicama is rich in ellagic acid and vitamin C, this helps the body use glucose as energy rather than storing it as fat,” she explains. In addition, the fiber in jicama can keep you regular and helps prevent bloating. Jicama makes a good raw, crunchy snack and is a perfect addition to any salad.