Summer is a great time to put superfoods center stage in your diet. Superfoods are designated as such because of their powerful antioxidant content and disease-fighting properties.They help boost immunity, reduce your risk of heart disease and cancer, and contribute a host of health benefits to protect and strengthen your system. Here are a few superfoods that are in season now or make especially good additions to your diet during the warmer months:
Blueberries. Blueberries are in season right now, and if you can find them, make a beeline for the tiny wild ones. These little blue powerhouses are packed with antioxidants and polyphenols, plus heaping doses of potassium and vitamin C. Wild blueberries are even more potent sources of antioxidants than their conventionally grown cousins, and are readily available in the freezer section of most health food stores and supermarkets. Toss some of these on your cereal or in your morning smoothie, eat them out of hand, or combine them with other fresh berries for snacks and desserts. When possible, opt for organic to avoid pesticide residue or be sure to rinse very thoroughly before eating.
Beans. Humble, inexpensive beans are versatile nutritional superstars. Red, kidney, pinto and black beans are tops in total antioxidant capacity, so be sure to include plenty of these beans in salads, spreads, and side dishes all summer long. Dried are best, so soak a few bags of beans in cold water overnight and then cook up a batch to use all week. Dress them up with herbs and vinaigrettes for a cold side dish, sprinkle them on tacos and salads, or whiz them in the food processor with your favorite seasonings for a tasty alternative to chick pea hummus. (Hummus, by the way, is fine, too!).
Wild Salmon. Gorgeous, deep pink or coral colored wild salmon can be found fresh in most supermarkets from June – August. Wild Salmon is superior in every way to farm raised in terms of taste and nutritional benefits. It’s an excellent source of Omega-3 fatty acids, which help keep your heart healthy and your skin glowing. Wild salmon also delivers healthy amounts of vitamin D and selenium, a mineral that is increasingly linked to optimal brain function and also protects your skin from the negative effects of sun exposure. Grill it, broil it, poach it – however you prefer to enjoy this delicious fish, be sure to consume lots of it!
Tea. Green or black, be sure to drink lots of freshly brewed iced tea to keep you cool and hydrated and amply supplied with antioxidants all summer long. Green tea has a slight advantage in terms of antioxidant content over black, but both pack an admirable free-radical busting punch. Be careful not to go overboard since both green and black teas contain caffeine, and make sure you choose small amounts of healthy, natural sweeteners or fruit juices if you prefer your tea on the sweet side. Adding spices such as ginger and herbs like mint give a nutritional and flavor boost to plain tea. Go ahead and experiment with your own concoction!
Sunflower Seeds. Heading to the ballpark or an air conditioned movie theater to escape the summer heat? Bring along a big bag of sunflower seeds (in the shell) for everyone to enjoy. Sunflower seeds are fun to eat and can keep your mouth occupied for a long time without delivering as many calories as the shelled variety. These little seeds are loaded with vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant, heart healthy Omega-3 fats, and bone building phosphorus and B vitamins.
Getting these foods into your diet each day isn’t hard and will help keep you in top form all summer. Happy Father’s Day to all the dads who make our lives that much more special.