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Below, we’ve rounded up seven summer foods and easy ways to prepare them for the greatest health benefits.

Here’s a look at healthy summer foods you won’t want to miss this season:

1. Cucumber

Want to feel cool as a cucumber during the sweltering heat of summer?  Add these refreshingly crunchy fruits (yep, it’s a fruit!) to your crudités platter. Cucumbers are naturally low in calories, carbohydrates, sodium, fat, and cholesterol. Plus, they’re 95 percent water, so they’re naturally hydrating — a must to keep cool!

Ways to enjoy it:

·       Atop your favorite salad

·       With other veggies on a crudités platter

·       Sliced thinly and added to water

·       Tossed with diced tomato, olive oil, salt, and pepper

Best of all, cukes contain two phytonutrient compounds — lignans and cucurbitacins— associated with anti-cancer benefits! Plus, it’s a low-calorie food at only 16 calories for a full cup. You’ll also get a hefty dose of essential vitamins A and K, magnesium, potassium, and manganese.

2. Zucchini

If you like to heat up the grill, you can toss this summer favorite into your grilling recipes. Not only is it low-calorie, but it’s also low in sodium, fat, carbs, and cholesterol — the ultimate veggie to grill! Plus, it’s rich in antioxidants and high in water content, keeping you hydrated in the blazing summer heat.

Ways to enjoy it:

·       Brushed with olive oil and grilled

·       Marinated chicken & zucchini kabobs

·       With other veggies on a crudités platter

·       Served up seasoned and baked with parmesan 

At 19 calories for a cup, this fiber-filled veggie will keep you feeling fuller, longer. It’s an ideal food to incorporate if you’re looking to shed some pounds as fiber slows food digestion — making you less likely to head for the dessert table sooner.

3. Corn

Corn is high in carbs and packed with fiber, vitamins, and minerals. But, it’s also relatively low in protein and fat, making it a great summer side dish or snack. Corn has high levels of lutein and zeaxanthin, two carotenoids that may prevent cataracts and age-related macular degeneration.

Ways to enjoy it:

·       Broiled with shrimp

·       Grilled in butter or olive oil

·       Tossed in a garden-fresh corn salad 

One cup of fresh corn comes in at 177 calories, so be sure to add in some healthy fats and protein to create a well-balanced meal.

4. Melons

Is there anything sweeter in summer than taking a bite of cold melon? Watermelon is a quintessential side dish staple at 4th of July parties. Whether you go with cantaloupe, honeydew, or watermelon, you’re getting a huge dose of vitamin C!

Ways to enjoy it:

·       Chilled and sliced

·       Melon sorbet

·       Assorted melon salad

·       Brush watermelon with oil and grill

Melons are full of water, which makes these a perfect BBQ side dish to beat the heat. Best of all, you don’t need to make a fancy dish; they’re delicious cold and served in slices!

5. Plums

Plums contain polyphenol antioxidants, which have positive effects on bone health. These antioxidants may also help reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes. A single plum provides a small trace of B vitamins, phosphorus, and magnesium.

Ways to enjoy it:

·       Served diced and chilled

·       Add to a spinach salad

·       Brush with oil and grill

·       Made as plum dumplings

Aside from being full of vitamins, plums are up to 87% water. Snack on nature’s purple gems to stay hydrated while you’re out enjoying the great outdoors. 

6. Cherries

Cherries are one of the most delightful fruits to come along with the summer heat. Cherries are especially high in polyphenols, a large group of plant chemicals known to help fight cellular damage, reduce inflammation, and promote overall health.

Ways to enjoy it:  

·       Eat plain

·       As a jam

·       In a fresh fruit salsa

Cherries are also chock full of essential vitamins and minerals. This fruit is rich in vitamins A and C, and you’ll also get necessary B vitamins, manganese, copper, magnesium, and vitamin K.

7. Strawberries

Other than being super hydrating, this sweet, red berry is good for your overall health. Eating strawberries is associated with a reduced risk of many chronic diseases and cancers.

Ways to enjoy it:  

·       Eaten whole

·       Dipped in chocolate 

·       Tossed in a smoothie

·       Added to a fresh fruit salad

·       Sliced and topped with coconut whipped cream

Additionally, if you’re looking to up your vitamin C intake, strawberries happen to be an excellent source of it! Plus, strawberries contain manganese and have decent amounts of folate (vitamin B9), and potassium.

Make Healthy Summer Foods Your BBQ Favorites

As you can see, the healthy summer foods listed above can be prepared in a variety of ways.

Eating healthy doesn’t have to be boring.

For your next gathering, consider making one of the above wholesome foods the star ingredient in your dish. You may even get several requests for your recipe if it’s a hit!

Next time you visit your farmer’s market or local grocer, scope out these in-season items. Some are very specific to the summer season — like cherries — and can be hard to find once summer is over. Be sure to take advantage of snagging them when you can!