by Caitlin Rose
Summer is a great time to transition to healthier eating by taking advantage of in-season fruits and vegetables. In Hawaii, we’re blessed with an easy growing environment that produces luscious fruits and colorful vegetables in abundance. Take the time to seek out local produce this summer – besides being fresher and juicier than imported food, local in-season produce is more affordable because higher yields drive prices down. As a bonus, you’ll also be helping support local farmers and our economy as a whole! Keep an eye out for the following fruits and veggies, as they become more abundant and affordable during summer months:
- Bananas – This versatile fruit is a great source of potassium, vitamin B6 and vitamin C. Bananas and orange juice make a great base for smoothies.
- Celery – Because it’s high in fiber and relatively low in calories, celery helps you feel full while cutting your calorie intake. Celery sticks and hummus are a healthy and great-tasting alternative to chips and dip.
- Ginger – Fresh ginger root contains potent anti-inflammatory compounds called gingerols, which may help reduce symptoms of arthritis. Try adding shredded ginger to salad dressings for a spicy boost.
- Limes – High in antioxidant and antibacterial compounds as well as vitamin C, limes help bring out the flavor of other foods. Try eating a papaya topped with nothing more than fresh lime juice and note the subtle tastes that pop out.
- Lychee – One of the most fun fruits on the planet, lychee are abundant sources of the compound oligonol which has been found to help reduce weight and protect skin from harmful UV rays1 – both great assets in summer!
- Mangoes – No one needs an excuse to eat a mango, but when you’re contemplating the deep orange flesh of a ripe mango, it can’t hurt to remember that this rich source of vitamin A helps preserve the health of your eyes and skin.
- Melons – Ever wonder why a juicy slice of watermelon dripping down your chin on a sunny afternoon leaves you feeling so relaxed? It might be because watermelons are high in an amino acid called citrulline that helps lower blood pressure.2
- Squash – High in protein, antioxidants and a wide variety of vitamins and minerals, squash is the perfect light yet filling centerpiece of an evening summer meal. Boiled, baked, steamed or sautéed, squash is delicious and satisfying no matter how you cook it. These are just a few of the advantages of eating local, in-season fruits and vegetables. To list all the vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, enzymes, and beneficial compounds of these whole foods would take pages and pages. Thankfully, you don’t need to know what all these compounds are to experience their health benefits. This summer, rest easy knowing that the most abundant foods are not only easy on your health, they’re easy on your wallet – and they taste great too! Whether you’re picking the ripest fruits from your backyard, or from Down to Earth’s produce bins, you can feel good knowing that you’re supporting your health and our local economy.
- Sakurai T, Nishioka H, Nakano N, Kizaki T, Radak Z, Izawa T, &Haga S. Antioxidative effects of a new lychee fruit-derived polyphenol mixture, oligonol, converted into a low-molecular form in adipocytes.Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry. 2008;72(2): 463-476. doi: 10.1271/bbb.70567
- Orea-Tejeda A, Orozco-Gutierrez JJ, Castillo-Martinez L, Keirns-Davies C, Montano-Hernandez P, et al. The effect of L-arginine and citrulline on endothelial function in patients in heart failure with preserved ejection fraction. Cardiol J. 2010;17:464–470.