This month means summer. It also means several nutrient-packed foods, like fresh strawberries and garlic, are in season. Take garlic, for example: It’s really fresh this time of year, and it works wonders for lowering blood pressure. June is bringing some seriously healthy food. Read on to discover four fresh summer foods and what they can do for your health.
Wild or farmed, this is the season for fresh strawberries. Bright red and tasty as can be, strawberries are one of the healthiest foods summer provides. Wild strawberries have been popular since ancient Roman times and were used for a wide variety of medicinal purposes, such as alleviating inflammation, fever, kidney stones, bad breath, gout, and more.
Strawberries’ bright, vibrant color is the result of large amounts of anthocyanidin, meaning they contain a heaping amount of powerful antioxidants. These antioxidants protect against inflammation, cancer, and heart disease. Like other berries, strawberries are also an excellent source of vitamins C and K, and they provide a good dose of fiber, folic acid, manganese, and potassium. Enjoy them plain, or double up on the antioxidants with some dark-chocolate dipped strawberry treats.
Although they don’t look like it, beets are in the same family as spinach, so you can bet that they are nutrient-packed powerhouses. Root veggies tend to be thought of as a winter food, but sugar beets are freshest — and sweetest — in the summer. The bright red root vegetable is one of the best sources of both folate and betaine.
Betaine is the pigment that gives the beet its rich, reddish color; it’s also thought to suppress the development of some types of cancer, according to the journal Anti-Cancer Agents in Medicinal Chemistry. Beets are a great source of potassium, magnesium, fiber, phosphorus, vitamins A, B, and C, and beta-carotene. Because they are low in calories and high in sugar (beetroot sugar is released into your system gradually), they are an excellent energy source.
You can probably pick out fresh garlic with just a sniff or two, but don’t let its strong scent scare you off. Fresh garlic is one of summer’s simple pleasures (and it can make or break your handmade pizza). It’s also one of the most versatile health foods you’ll find this summer. Garlic has some serious anti-inflammatory properties; a study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food identified four sulphuric compounds in garlic that help reduce inflammation. It’s also loaded with antioxidants, keeping acne and colds at bay. Those same antioxidants also help prevent more serious issues like heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease.
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, garlic lowers blood pressure, reduces your risk of cancer, and may treat fungus infections like ringworm or athlete’s foot. So, when you’re deciding what your go-to flavor of the summer will be, choose garlic — it’s one of the few foods that has as much flavor as it does health benefits.
Summertime means asparagus is starting to pop up all over the U.S., and chances are you wouldn’t even recognize it. A tall, stringy plant produces these odd, green stalks, which are loaded with vitamin A and several B vitamins. They’re also a good source of iron, calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, manganese, zinc, selenium, and potassium.
The abundance of vitamin B in asparagus helps you maintain healthy levels of homocysteine, explains Circulation. Elevated levels of homocysteine can put you at risk for serious ailments, like blood clots. A study published in the journal Cancer Letters demonstrated that the saponins, a variety of phytonutrients, in asparagus possess anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties.
A real hard-hitter, asparagus has also helped prevent or treat tuberculosis, arthritis, blood cholesterol, and depression. If you’re lucky enough to find wild asparagus, make sure you bring some home to try; the wild varieties are known to contain higher amounts of vitamins and minerals.