Summer’s not just time to get in shape on the outside. It’s also a great time to get yourself in shape on the inside with seasonal summer superfoods! A diet rich in fruits and vegetables can help control weight, and may prevent some forms of cancer, heart disease and diabetes. Plus, buying fruits and vegetables in season can help you stay on budget. Check out this rainbow of 12 seasonal summer super fruits and vegetables to bring a bevy of tasty and nutritious foods to your table.
Why they’re super: Peaches are rich in beta carotene, which promotes eye and skin health.
How to enjoy them: Peaches aren’t just great as part of a delicious pie or cobbler. Slice them up and eat them as-is or with a dollop of cottage cheese or yogurt for breakfast.
Why they’re super: Blueberries are one of very few naturally bluish purple foods and are packed with antioxidants. Anthocyanins, which give blueberries their color, also may combat diabetes, according to the Horticulture and Food Research Institute of New Zealand.
How to enjoy them: Fresh or frozen blueberries can be enjoyed on their own as a snack or as a delicious ingredient in pancakes, muffins or waffles. They’re also great as part of a sauce for meats.
3. Red Bell Peppers
Why they’re super: The red variety of bell pepper isn’t just sweeter and milder than the green, it packs a bigger nutrient punch, too. Reds have four times the vitamin C of greens (240 percent your recommended daily value versus 60) and 11 times more beta carotene, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
How to enjoy them: Dip slices into your favorite dips like hummus or blue cheese. Or roast your red peppers and toss them on pizza or pasta.
Why they’re super: Zucchini’s high water content makes it a healthy baking substitute and its high levels of antioxidants make it great for your system. Zucchini also has more potassium than a banana, a bit of calcium, magnesium and manganese.
How to enjoy them: Shredded zucchini is great in brownies, breads and muffins. Or grill it with a little balsamic vinaigrette.
Why they’re super: Deep red tomatoes are full of lycopene, which has a host of benefits including prevention of memory loss, heart disease and artery deterioration. Lycopene also protects your skin from sun damage.
How to enjoy them: Sliced on sandwiches or diced and tossed into pasta salad, fresh tomatoes are a refreshingly cool summer treat. Tomato sauce packs an even bigger healthy punch since stewing tomatoes boosts lycopene, so be sure and enjoy your favorite marinara as a dip or atop pasta.
6. Yukon Gold Potatoes
Why they’re super: White and yellow potatoes sometimes get a bad rap in health food circles, but the seasonal summer Yukon Gold has more potassium than a banana.
How to enjoy them: Potato salad and oven fries are excellent ways to enjoy the golden taters. Yukon golds also hold up well in soups and entrees you plan to freeze.
Why they’re super: Watermelon isn’t just beneficial for its deliciousness and high water content. Watermelon is packed with a surprising number of nutrients, too. It is very high in vitamin C, beta carotene, lycopene and vitamin A—all major antioxidants that have been shown in clinical studies to help fight cancer. It also has high levels of B vitamins.
8. Sugar Snap Peas
Why they’re super: Not only are they crisp and delicious, but sugar snap peas also contain vitamins A and C and heart health-improving folate. Folate also prevents birth defects, osteoporosis and colon cancer.
How to enjoy them: If you’re lucky enough to have them cropping up in your garden, eating them fresh off the vine is great. Or try them as a part of a spring pasta.
Why they’re super: Radishes are not only high in fiber, but also in calcium, riboflavin and magnesium.
How to enjoy them: Sliced atop salads or try them pickled for a tart treat.
Why they’re super: Beets are full of phytonutrients including betacyanin, which gives beets their rich color. Beets are high in folate, fiber and beta carotene.
How to enjoy them: Beets are best enjoyed roasted to bring out their natural sugars.
Why they’re super: Plums and prunes aren’t just to keep you regular anymore. They also may improve bone density, according to a recent Florida State University study. Plums also prevent heart disease and diabetes.
How to enjoy them: Enjoy plums in jam, fruit salad or dried and tossed into granola.
Why they’re super: Extraordinarily high in fiber (about two grams in a single fig), figs also are high in potassium and calcium.
How to enjoy them: Figs aren’t just for the middle of a cookie. Fresh figs are great paired with cheese or even grilled.