Is there anything better than a juicy, cold watermelon on a hot summer’s day? We think not. Eating seasonal fruits and vegetables in the summer is a great way to support your health and weight loss goals. So which summer fruits and veggies are best? We’ve rounded up nine that are in season and brimming with nutrients. We’ve also added ideas to incorporate them into your healthy eating routine. Check them out!
9 of the Best Summer Fruits and Vegetables
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While eating an apple every day isn’t a surefire way to keep the doctor away, it is a seasonal summer fruit that is loaded with vitamins, filling fiber and antioxidants. Clocking in at just under 100 calories (95 to be exact), this delicious fruit is great eaten as a snack or atop your favorite salad.1
Health benefits: If your goals include weight loss, you might want to take a look at adding apples to your diet. The fiber content in apples slows digestion which can help you feel full.1 Apples are also a low-glycemic food so they won’t spike your blood sugar like other sweet treats. Why does that matter? When your blood sugar levels soar and then crash, you’re likely to feel lethargic and might be tempted to reach for not-so-healthy foods to get your energy levels back up.
How to eat them: Slice up a crisp apple and pair it with 1 teaspoon of nut butter for a filling and delicious snack. Or cut an apple in half, sprinkle it with cinnamon and pop it in the oven for 15 minutes. You’ll get a delicious baked apple reminiscent of your favorite apple pie filling.
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Bursting with flavor and vibrant color, beets are low in calories and packed with nutrients. One cup of beets has 75 calories and 3 grams of protein.2 Beyond their caloric content, beets contain essential vitamins and minerals such as magnesium, iron and B vitamins.2
Health benefits: Beetroot juice might help lower your blood pressure. A small 2015 study found that participants that drank a cup of beetroot juice a day for four weeks were able to lower their blood pressure whereas those who drank the placebo did not.3
How to eat them: While you can eat beets raw (grated over a salad, for example), cooking them (boiling, roasting or steaming) is the most common way to enjoy them. After they’re cooked you can slice them up and put them on a sandwich, puree them to make a delicious soup, or juice them to make a refreshing juice. Just make sure to wash your hands immediately after touching them or wear gloves to avoid staining your hands!
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3. Bell Peppers
Green, yellow, orange and red — whichever color you choose, these non-starchy vegetables make a great addition to any meal. A medium bell pepper contains 37 calories and 2.5 grams of fiber, plus an array of nutrients including potassium, calcium and vitamins A and C.4
Health benefits: Capsaicin, a chemical found in peppers, has been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects as well as cardiovascular benefits.5 The Mayo Clinic also reports bell peppers have immune-boosting properties.6
How to eat them: Bell peppers are extremely versatile and can be added to almost any meal or snack. Dice up raw peppers and add them to your next salad for a crunchy addition. Snack on them raw and dip them in hummus for a healthy snack. Or, sauté peppers in a little bit of olive oil and add them to pasta, eggs or pizza!
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Blackberries are best June through August, so they make the perfect seasonal summer fruit. One cup of blackberries has roughly 60 calories and a whopping 7 grams of fiber.7 Blackberries are also loaded with vitamin A, C and K.7
Health benefits: One cup of blackberries contains almost half of your daily recommended intake of vitamin C.8 Vitamin C isn’t just good for your immune system, it also plays a vital role in the production of collagen. Collagen is a protein that helps your connective tissues work properly and aids in healing wounds.9
How to eat them: Throw fresh berries on top of nonfat plain Greek yogurt for a protein-packed breakfast or a sweet dessert. If you don’t have fresh berries on hand, no problem! Frozen blackberries are just as nutritious and are an excellent choice for a summertime smoothie.
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Curious how you can stay hydrated during the warmer months? While drinking enough water is essential (at least eight, 8-ounce glasses of water) certain foods can help you exceed that minimum amount, including celery. Celery is 95% water and one large stalk contains only 10 calories.10
Health benefits: You don’t have to drink celery juice every day to reap the benefits of this summer vegetable. Celery is rich in fiber which is linked to several health benefits including lowering blood pressure and cholesterol.10 Eating celery alone won’t lower your blood pressure, but including it in a well-rounded diet rich with other fruits and vegetables can certainly help!
How to eat it: If you’re hankering for something crunchy, celery is the perfect snack! Chop up a few stalks and dip it in some homemade tzatziki sauce using nonfat plain Greek yogurt, dill, lemon juice, garlic and black pepper. If you’re a Jenny Craig member, add some chopped celery to your Tuna Dill Salad Kit for some extra crunch and nutrients.
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Stay cool as a cucumber this summer by eating lots of them! Another hydrating vegetable, cukes are also comprised of 95% water and clock in at just 16 calories per cup.11 They also contain potassium, fiber and vitamin C as well as a variety of other nutrients.11
Health benefits: If you want glowing skin this season, adding cucumber to your diet might be a good first step. Yes, you’ve probably seen slices on people’s faces at spas — and for good reason. Cucumber has a cooling effect that can help alleviate swelling and irritated skin.12 But if you want to glow from the inside out, try eating them! Research indicates a diet rich in fruits and vegetables might slow certain aging processes in the body.13
How to eat them: Slice them up and throw them in water for a refreshing drink or make them the star of a veggie-packed sandwich: Cucumbers are versatile and delicious! Check out these Mason Jar Salad Recipes for even more ideas.
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Have you heard of the vegetable okra? It’s a green vegetable that’s packed with nutrients and fiber. In fact, one-half cup contains 2 grams of dietary fiber and only 25 calories.14 While some might think it’s a little slimy, when cooked, it can be a delish way to thicken stews or complement other vegetables like corn and tomatoes.
Health benefits: Feeling sluggish? Okra might help you fight fatigue. One study on animals found that the flavonoids and beneficial antioxidants in okra seeds might help combat tiredness.15
How to eat it: Cook okra on high heat with a little olive oil and tomato sauce for a quick and easy side dish or topping for pasta. Pickling okra is another way to avoid its slimy texture.
Photo by Igor Osinchuk on Unsplash
8. Summer Squash
If there’s one type of squash to enjoy this season, it’s this kind! Summer squash comes in a few different varieties including zucchini, yellow crookneck, yellow straightneck and scallop.16 It differs from winter squash as it’s harvested when the plant is still immature. One cup of cooked squash contains 16 calories (another water-rich fruit), potassium, calcium, Vitamin A and folate.16 Make sure to eat the skin of the squash to get the most nutrients.
Health benefits: Consumption of potassium-rich produce (like squash) might reduce your blood pressure and your risk of cardiovascular disease, Harvard Health reports.17
How to eat it: From grilling and steaming to sautéing and roasting, squash can be cooked and eaten in a variety of different ways (think on top of salads or mixed into a sauce or stir fry). Try this Tuna Zucchini Melt recipe for a quick and delicious twist on a classic sandwich or this Chicken Zoodle Soup recipe.
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You might eat tomatoes year-round, but summertime is when they’re in season.18 Here’s a tip to find the perfect tomato: Make sure it’s bright red, free from too many blemishes and feels firm (not hard).19 There are lots of tomato varieties to choose from so experiment with different kinds! Cherry tomatoes are the perfect salad topper while heirloom tomatoes taste divine on toast.
Health benefits: The lycopene found in tomatoes hold promising health benefits. Lycopene is an antioxidant that gives many different fruits and vegetables their bright color. A review of the health effects of tomato lycopene suggests that it may play a role in the prevention of different cancers, specifically prostate.20 Many studies measure the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) to determine cancer risk.20 One study found that when patients consumed tomato sauce daily for three weeks before prostate surgery their PSA levels dropped by 20%.20
How to eat them: Have a handful of cherry tomatoes raw for a snack or slice them up, grill them and eat them on a sandwich or burger. Eating tomatoes raw will give you the most nutrients, but eating tomato sauce or tomato soup are other great ways to consume them. Just make sure to watch out for added sugar and salt.
Looking for ways to include more summer fruits and vegetables into your diet? How about a plan that takes the guesswork out of healthy eating and weight loss? Jenny Craig makes it simple with ready-to-go meals in smart portions — delivered straight to your doorstep. View our new plans starting at just 12.99 a day and start your journey to better health.
Elisa is a content marketing manager for Jenny Craig with over ten years of experience working in the health and fitness industry. She loves sharing her passion for living a balanced and healthy lifestyle. An endurance sports enthusiast, she is usually swimming in the pool, biking along the coast highway or running by the beach in her free time. Elisa holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from California State University, Chico.
Favorite healthy snack: mozzarella string cheese with a Pink Lady apple
Monica Ropar, Nutritionist
Monica has over 15 years of experience with Jenny Craig, as an expert nutrition and program resource. She develops content, training, tools and strategies for the program to support clients throughout their weight loss journey, and offers inspiration, weight loss tips, lifestyle strategies and motivation. Monica holds a Bachelor of Science degree with a double major in Dietetics and Exercise, Fitness & Health from Purdue University and continues to stay current on weight management research, consumer trends and healthcare developments.
Favorite healthy snack: raw veggie sticks with homemade hummus
This article is based on scientific research and/or other scientific articles and was written by an experienced health and lifestyle contributor and reviewed by certified professionals.
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Edited by Elisa - Jenny Craig