7 fruits and veggies to eat for heart health this summer

collage of colorful fruits and vegetables
collage of colorful fruits and vegetables

Looking for a healthy option to bring to a summer picnic?

Try one of these tasty and colorful fruits — you’ll be doing your heart a favor.

Registered dietitian Sherry Gray tells Verywell Health that there are plenty of summer fruits that can help keep your heart healthy and help you stay hydrated too.

The top in season fruits and veggies Gray recommends for heart health include: tomatoes, strawberries, blueberries, peaches, apricots, watermelon and zucchini.

Read on to learn more about why each makes a perfect addition to your summer diet.

Filled with beta carotene and lycopene, tomatoes may help lower your risk of certain cancers. Mara Zemgaliete – stock.adobe.com
Filled with beta carotene and lycopene, tomatoes may help lower your risk of certain cancers. Mara Zemgaliete – stock.adobe.com

Tomatoes

This summer fruit can seemingly do it all: lower your risk of heart disease, aid in immune function and reduce your risk for type 2 diabetes, among other benefits. Filled with beta carotene and lycopene, the fruit may also lower your risk for certain types of cancer, as those pigments are believed to contain anti-cancer properties.

Chop them up on salads or serve them alongside mozzarella and basil for a fresh summertime appetizer.

Strawberries are surprisingly low in sugar, making it a great fruit option for those with diabetes Sham-ann – stock.adobe.com
Strawberries are surprisingly low in sugar, making it a great fruit option for those with diabetes Sham-ann – stock.adobe.com

Strawberries

High in fiber and water content, strawberries make an ideal summer fruit since they’re hydrating and filling. And despite being sweet, strawberries are lower in sugar than many other fruits, meaning they can still be enjoyed by those with diabetes who need to watch their blood sugar levels.

The bright red berry is also high in vitamin C, manganese, potassium and folate. The vitamin C combined with antioxidants means strawberries can help fight free radicals that would otherwise damage your heart, registered dietitian Melissa Ann Prest tells Verywell Health.

Blueberries may help improve brain function and protect against certain diseases. rh2010 – stock.adobe.com
Blueberries may help improve brain function and protect against certain diseases. rh2010 – stock.adobe.com

Blueberries

These little berries pack a powerful punch of anthocyanin pigments, which are water-soluble pigments responsible for the blue, red and purple colors in fruits and veggies. These special pigments possess antimicrobial and antioxidative properties, and may help improve neurological function and protect against disease, according to the National Institutes of Health.

In terms of heart health, blueberries are high in fiber and vitamin K.

“In the hot summer months, many of us turn to frozen treats to help cool off. Remember that fruit can be fabulous for this,” Heather Hodson, a clinical nutritionist at NYU Langone Center for the Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease, tells Verywell Health. “Freeze chunks of cut-up fruit or blend and pour into popsicle molds for a sweet and fiber-filled dessert or snack.”

Peaches may help lower cholesterol and blood pressure, according to studies done on animals. photology1971 – stock.adobe.com
Peaches may help lower cholesterol and blood pressure, according to studies done on animals. photology1971 – stock.adobe.com

Peaches

Filled with fiber, vitamin C, vitamin A and potassium — plus juicy, sweet deliciousness — what’s not to love about a peach? The pitted fruit may also help lower cholesterol and blood pressure, according to studies done on animals, making them good for heart health.

But the benefits don’t end there. This super-fruit also contains beta carotene, which is good for your eyes; plus polyphenols and probiotics, which may help fight inflammation and decrease your risk of chronic disease, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

Apricots

Swap your usual dessert with apricots topped with cinnamon and yogurt, registered dietitian Bethany Doerfler recommends to Verywell Health.

“Substituting fruit for dessert is a positive lifestyle change that adds up to greater cardiovascular health,” Doerfler says.

Apricots are also high in antioxidants and potassium; and may aid in gut, eye and skin health, according to Healthline.

The fruit, which is about 92% water, contains tons of key nutrients and minerals. Pineapple studio – stock.adobe.com
The fruit, which is about 92% water, contains tons of key nutrients and minerals. Pineapple studio – stock.adobe.com

Watermelon

Despite being 92% water, this melon still holds several key nutrients and minerals. Potassium, lycopene and fiber abound in the fruit. Lycopene, in particular, may improve blood pressure and help to prevent certain heart diseases, according to Verywell Health.

Try watermelon with pickled onions and a mild crumbled cheese like feta for a unique summer salad,” Doerfler suggests.

Zucchini may help lower your blood pressure and reduce the risk of stroke and other heart diseases. volff – stock.adobe.com
Zucchini may help lower your blood pressure and reduce the risk of stroke and other heart diseases. volff – stock.adobe.com

Zucchini

The green veggie is good for zoodles — and so much more. Along with other summer squashes, this one is high in potassium, which makes it good for your blood pressure and for lowering the risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease.

According to dietitians, the versatile veggie is also high in vitamin C and fiber, meaning it can aid in digestion and help to remove cholesterol from your blood.