This summer make the most of the best fresh, seasonal produce, because this season has all the most taste-tempting fruits, especially at their peak of ripeness. Everything from luscious mangoes, delicious stone fruits and berries, rich red tomatoes and melons. Eat plenty while in season as they are at their peak – and cheapest – now. Especially these:
Cherries are a power-packed food loaded with anthocyanins – the antioxidants responsible for their deep red colour – and other flavonoid antioxidants such as quercetin and kaempferol. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that sour cherries ranked 14 in the top 50 foods for highest antioxidant content per serve. Eating foods rich in antioxidants, such as cherries, may help reduce and neutralise free radicals and slow the signs of skin ageing – something we all want.
They provide a good source of Vitamin C and a source of potassium and fibre. Cherries are a guilt-free indulgence with only 250 kilojoules per 100 grams and no fat.
A nutritional powerhouses whether they’re eaten fresh or frozen. Naturally high in antioxidants – the darker the berry, the greater its phytochemical content. Berries also have anti-inflammatory effects and may be a memory-protecting food.
Put out a bowl of berries to snack on any time, add them to breakfast cereal or desserts, or wiz up in a smoothie for your daily nutrition hit.
Blueberries are packed with antioxidant power, which comes from high levels of anthocyanins, a type of flavonoid or plant compound. They also contain significant amounts of micronutrients and fibre.
Emerging research suggests blueberries improve insulin sensitivity in overweight men and women, and lower blood pressure levels in pre-diabetic men and women without raising blood sugar.
A high-fibre powerhouse, raspberries also have calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, vitamin C and bone-building vitamin K.
The high levels of ellagitannins present in raspberries and blackberries are reported to give them more of a health punch than many other fruits and vegetables, with powerful antioxidant activity, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. These ellagitannins are a class of polyphenols that are relatively uncommon in other fruits and vegetables.
Strawberries are also are a good source of several B vitamins, including folic acid and niacin.
The only fruit to flaunt its seeds on the outside, strawberries are an excellent source of vitamins C and K, dietary fibre, flavonoids (anthocyanins) and the plant compound ellagic acid. But be aware, they retain more of their vitamin C content if left whole. They also contain calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium.
One of Australia’s favourite fruits in summer, mangoes are high in energy, low in fat, and are a great source of calcium and vitamins essential for good health. Less than one mango (200g) give you three times your recommended daily intake of Vitamin A and Vitamin C.
Mangoes provide more beta-carotene than any other fruit and are a rich source of fibre and potassium. Beta-carotene is a powerful anti-oxidant that can help protect the body against disease and also fight the signs of ageing by assisting with the growth and repair of cells, tissues and skin.
Half a mango contains only 230kj and because mangoes are low GI, so their energy is absorbed slowly into the body, they help maintain healthy blood sugar levels, keeping you satisfied for longer. Add slices to the BBQ for a delicious addition to your summer entertaining menu; or puree and drizzle over berries and rockmelon or a fruit salad bowl.
Taste best when in season, but canned varieties are excellent in many recipes, especially pasta dishes. Lots of varieties to choose from, from pop-in-your-mouth cherry tomatoes to luscious large varieties. Try some heirloom varieties, like Green Zebras, or grow-your-own favourites like Grosse Lisse.
The nutrients and unique phytochemicals in tomatoes, particularly lycopene, have benefits for reducing the risk of some cancers and heart disease, as well as improving cholesterol levels and blood pressure. One small tomato (120 grams) contains 70% of a person’s daily vitamin C needs, as well as some vitamin A, folate and potassium, with less than 70 kilojoules.
The nutritional content of the various types of melons differ slightly but what they have in common is that they have a high water content and are very nutritious.
Rockmelons/cantaloupes are an excellent source of vitamin A (immune booster and potent antioxidant), vitamin C and potassium. They are also high in folic acid and a great source of fibre. (To pick a ripe rockmelon, it’ll smell sweet and have a brown, not green, hole where it was attached to its stem.) Serve large slices with fresh figs and draped in prosciutto; or cut in half, scoop out the seeds and fill with your favourite berries and a dollop of yoghurt or pureed mango.
Honeydew melons are a good source of vitamin C and potassium. They contain more sugar than a rockmelon but less than watermelon. Watermelons are a good source of Vitamin A and C, plus the minerals potassium and iron. Watermelons also contains high levels of lycopene a powerful antioxidant.
Peaches, plums, nectarines, apricots – who could resist them in summer? Rich in vitamins A, C and E, as well as dietary fibre, potassium and antioxidants, these vibrant fruits pack a potent nutritional punch. Add them to smoothies, salads and desserts or just savour them on their own – the fresh, juicy flavours are the ultimate tastes of summer.
Recent research has found that nectarines, plums and peaches contain a unique mixture of compounds that may help fight metabolic syndrome, where obesity and inflammation lead to serious health conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Berries: Red & White Currants
*This seasonal fruit and vegetable list from the Sydney Markets website.