It can be difficult to find good quality produce during the long winter months, especially here in more northern cities like Cincinnati, so many older Americans are come into summer deprived of many essential nutrients.
But plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables— bursting through their skins with vitamins, fiber, and photochemicals that promote senior wellness and reduce your chances of developing cancer or a chronic disease— can be found on the produce stands as the weather settles into its seasonable swelter.
Try adding these 5 summertime fruits and vegetables that promote healthier senior living to the menu of the next picnic at your retirement community.
1. Apricots and Plums
These stone fruits are a seasonal treat.
The fleshy, brightly colored fruits are a great choice for a summer treat. They’re chock full of beta-carotene, a powerful antioxidant that can lower your risk of developing cancer or heart disease, and fiber, plus fresh apricots and plums are a great source of Vitamin C.
Fresh apricots don’t travel well, so start looking for them at your farmers market in the late spring and early summer. Plums and the hybrid pluots ripen later in the season. They should be on local stands around the middle of the summer.
Add a few fresh apricots to your picnic basket or try making this delicious plum crumble for your summer gathering.
Rich and creamy avocados are a great addition to your summer salads—they’re tasty and good for you!
Full of healthy monounsaturated fat, Vitamins E and K, folate, magnesium, and other nutrients, eating avocado promotes healthier eyes and skin in older adults. The carotenoid lutein, which helps give avocados their color has been linked to promoting healthy eyes through reducing the risk of macular degeneration a major cause of blindness among older adults.
You can find avocados year round at your local supermarket, but the best avocados hit the stands during the summertime harvest season in California (where most American avocados are grown).
Summer is berry season.
Whether you prefer to be out in the fields, picking your own strawberries and risking your arms on blackberry bushes, or would rather pick up a carton at your local market— adding fresh berries to your diet can help improve your physical and mental health.
June starts the season for strawberries and raspberries, but you’ll have to wait a bit longer for blackberries and blueberries. Prime picking for these fruits isn’t until July and August.
Try bringing a fresh berry parfait to the potluck picnic at your retirement community instead of a sugary dessert. A parfait is easy to throw together—just layer low-fat yogurt with an assortment of fresh berries— and you’ll get a crowd-pleasing dessert full of antioxidants, vitamins and fiber.
This flavorful fruit is a quintessential summer favorite.
Cherry-picking season starts in early June and goes through August. You can find them bagged at the supermarket, but for the best quality fruits hit the stands at your local farmer’s market where they’re sold with their stems attached—a quality which ensures that your cherries stay fresher longer.
The flavonoids and antioxidants in these brightly colored fruits promote heart health and target the free radicals that contribute to cancer and other diseases common in senior life.
Put a twist on summertime sandwiches, burgers, and hotdogs. Replace your over-processed yellow mustard with a tart and tang cherry alternative.
5. Summer squash
Squashes that ripen in the early months of the summer season—zucchini is always summertime favorites— make a great addition to a heart-healthy pasta dish or mixed green salad.
Eating zucchini and other summer squash can a boon to your senior living. This fiber-rich food helps lower cholesterol, while antioxidant vitamins A and C help easy arthritis pain caused by inflammation and corral free radicals that lead to cancer and many chronic diseases. High levels of folate and magnesium help reduce your risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke.
Image Credit: hankinsphoto.com