Eating at least eight three-ounce servings of fruits and vegetables a day can significantly lower your risk of heart disease, according to researchers. In fact, researchers found that each one-serving portion of fruits and vegetables lowered the risk of fatal heart disease by as much as 4%! The health benefits of fruit and vegetables are as abundant as the varieties available during the summer months. Here are 10 fruits and vegetables that should be on your grocery list this summer.
Green leafy vegetables are an important part of our diets. They are high in dietary fiber, folic acid, calcium and vitamin C in addition to being low in fat. Green leafy vegetables are known for reducing the risks of heart disease and cancer but recent research has shown they can also reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. Just 1.5 extra servings of green leafy vegetables a day can have a 14% reduction in the risk of type 2 diabetes. Collard greens are a great addition to any stir-fry and arugula and mustard greens add a peppery bite to salads tossed with a simple olive oil and lemon juice dressing.
Sweet peppers are another tasty health food. Recently, researchers have found that capsinoids, the non-pungent compounds in sweet peppers, help us use energy more efficiently. This is good news for those of us who want to get the most out of our workouts! Sweet pepper spears and roasted garlic hummus are a delicious snack!
Celery contains dietary luteolin, a bioactive plant compound, which has recently been linked to increased performance on memory tasks. Researchers found that when given a luteolin-supplemented diet for four weeks, aged mice performed better on memory tasks than their control diet counterparts. Researchers concluded that the dietary compound luteolin reduces inflammation in the brain and decreases memory decline. Celery is delicious chopped and tossed with halved red grapes, diced grilled chicken breasts and pecan halves dressed with a dijon vinaigrette.
Watermelon is a summer staple. It is delicious and refreshing and has the power to help reduce blood pressure. Watermelon contains L-citrulline, a compound that helps widen blood vessels helping to reduce aortic blood pressure. Watermelon cubes tossed with fresh mint and a lightly sweetened balsamic vinegar reduction is a perfect summer dessert.
Tomatoes are another summer staple that should be on your grocery list. Tomatoes contain high levels of the antioxidant lycopene which has been found to reduce the risk of prostate cancer. Studies found that men who ate at least two servings of tomatoes a day, including tomato-based sauces, significantly decreased their chances of developing the disease. Halved cherry tomatoes tossed with small slices of fresh low-fat mozzarella cheese, whole basil leaves and extra virgin olive oil is an excellent accompaniment to any meal.
Strawberries are a delicious addition to any summer menu and are known to be an excellent source of vitamin C, folic acid and contain high levels of antioxidants. Researchers have also found that strawberries can reduce inflammation. Strawberries are a great snack just by themselves but they are also a tasty topping for whole grain cereal or sliced and tossed with feta cheese and arugula.
Oranges contain more antioxidants than any other fruit. Eating at least one orange a day in addition to the five recommended fruits and vegetables a day can reduce the risk for cancers of the mouth, larynx and stomach as well as reduce the risk of stroke. Orange wedges are a popular snack but they are also delicious segmented and tossed in a stir-fry or with peppery greens.
Beets are great for boosting brain health. They are high in nitrates which are converted to nitrite after consumption. These nitrites help open blood vessels increasing oxygen flow to the brain. Beets are delightful tossed in a dandelion green salad or roasted with carrots, pearl onions and sweet peppers.
Oregano is a staple of Italian and Greek cuisine. Oregano can reduce inflammation and bone degeneration thanks to its active ingredient betacaryophyllin. Oregano is most often chopped and tossed in pasta dishes or stirred into soups. It is also delicious used in marinades and ground into pesto sauces.
Rosemary is another delicious, fragrant herb and researchers have discovered its scent may boost memory. Researchers have determined that when in office spaces are infused with the fragrance of rosemary workers have better long-term memory and quicker reaction times. Rosemary is a great addition to any sauce but also delicious baked in whole grain breads.
Pack your grocery cart with these powerful health foods and reap the benefits while adding delicious flavors to your summertime menu!