But this season brings an abundance of fresh, flavorful fruits and vegetables packed with good-for-you nutrients. And there are many healthy summer recipes that require minimal preparation.
Using the five delicious foods below will help you “healthy up” your warm-weather menus.
1. Tomatoes and Fresh Mozzarella
A review of studies in the journal Medicine found that men who ate 9 to 21 mg of lycopene per day (a medium tomato has almost 4 mg) were less likely to develop prostate cancer.
Fresh mozzarella is lower in calories and fat than some other cheeses, and the fat it contains enhances lycopene absorption.
Try it. Serve sliced tomatoes (either fresh or grilled) topped with cheese and fresh basil, or eat the trio on toasted bread.
2. Beans and Corn
An analysis of studies published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that people who eat beans regularly are more likely to lose weight even if they’re not dieting.
Try it. Toss beans and corn in a little dressing and any fresh herbs you like for a healthy summer dish.
You can add other ingredients, such as avocado, peppers, and tomatoes. Many recipes call for black beans, which have 8 grams of fiber per half-cup.
Tomatoes star in this low-fat, high-fiber chilled soup. Other ingredients can include cucumbers, garlic, onions, and fresh herbs. Some recipes even call for watermelon.
The soup has lycopene and the amino acid citrulline, which some evidence suggests may improve blood circulation.
(Read our special report on pesticides in produce.)
4. Grilled Fruits and Vegetables
Grilling and summer go hand in hand, but cooking meat over an open flame can create potentially carcinogenic compounds called heterocyclic amines, or HCAs.
Grilling fruits and vegetables for healthy summer recipes doesn't trigger the same chemical reaction. (But cooking potatoes on a grill or in an oven to a deep brown color can create a compound called acrylamide, which animal studies show can cause cancer.)
You can grill almost any produce—even lettuce. It brings out the sweetness in all fruits and vegetables.
Slice them in half, remove the pit, and place on the grill, cut side down. Or make kabobs by threading skewers with vegetables or fruits.
Avocados are packed with healthy monounsaturated fat, fiber, and vitamins C and K.
A review of 10 studies in the Journal of Clinical Lipidology found that using avocado instead of other fats appeared to reduce total and LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides.
Try it. Instead of tortilla chips, try pairing guacamole with healthier dippers such as vegetables, whole-grain crackers or pita bread, or shrimp.
Use it as a side dish or a topping for sandwiches and turkey burgers. You can also add it to eggs, salads, and soups.
Editor's Note: This article also appeared in the August 2016 issue of Consumer Reports on Health.
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