In Season Fruits and Their Health Benefits
Strawberries are certainly one of the most popular healthy spring fruits. Afterall, who can resist their sweet-tart flavor and beautiful color in salads, fruit cups, smoothies and desserts? Strawberries are not only “prettiness on a plate” these low-calorie beauties come packed with some very important nutrients. One cup of whole strawberries has only 46 calories and provides vitamin C, fiber and folate. And did you know that strawberries are the only fruit with their seeds on the outside?
How to choose, store and use Strawberries: Choose brightly colored, non-blemished, berries with their stems still attached. Store strawberries unwashed in a breathable container in the refrigerator and use these delicate berries within a few days. Rinse under cold water and remove the green tops just before using or eating.
Cherries are another early summer fruit with great health benefits. These heart-shaped beauties can range in color from bright red, red and yellowish, or to an almost black color. On average, one cup of cherries has about 97 calories and provides fiber, vitamin C, potassium and some B vitamins. Some research indicates cherries can help decrease uric acid levels, which may be beneficial for people with gout.
There are several cherry varieties to choose from including:
Bing Cherries are a dark red sweet variety that are a perfect snack on their own with their strong, deep-cherry flavor. You can also use them in variety of smoothies, desserts and even tossed on a salad.
Rainer Cherries are a larger, golden-yellow cherry with a pink to red blush. These sweet cherries are wonderful eaten fresh or they too can be added to recipes for smoothies, desserts and salads.
Tart or Sour Cherries are known for their pucker-power because of their tart, sour taste. But don’t give up on these smaller bright red cherries because they are the perfect cherry for desserts, as they just need a little honey, agave syrup, sugar or sugar-substitute to help you enjoy their health benefits. You can also add a little tart cherry juice to sparkling water with a twist of lime for a refreshing drink. Tart cherry nutrition includes antioxidants and minerals such as potassium. Tart cherries may have the added benefit of reducing inflammation in your body, a perfect treat for after an intense workout.
How to choose, store and use cherries: Choose berries that are brightly colored with no blemishes. Keep cherries dry, refrigerate and use berries within a few days to a week. Remove stems and rinse cherries under cold water before eating. Cherries are a stone fruit, so be sure to remove the stone…aka the seed.
Watermelon is summer fruit with lots of health benefits. Although the US watermelons are not usually ripe this early, imported watermelon begin to show up on the store shelves around this time. Watermelon is a tasty, low-cost fruit that provides vitamins A and C and only has about 40 calories per cup.
How to choose, store and use watermelon: choose firm, heavy watermelons, with no cracks, bruises or soft spots. Ripe watermelons are less shiny with a yellowish underside from laying on the ground.
Raspberries can be an early summer fruit, and a fall fruit, as these delicious berries are members of the rose family and come in a lot of varieties and colors including yellow, red and deep purple, often called black raspberries. There are only 65 calories in a cup of raspberries, which provide about half of your daily vitamin C along with lots of antioxidants which can protect your brain and reduce inflammation.
How to choose, store and use raspberries: Choose berries that are brightly colored, plump and have no signs of mold. Store dry berries in a breathable container in the refrigerator and use within a few days. Rinse just before using or eating.
Now that you know a little more about in season spring and summer fruits and their health benefits, why now try these easy and delicious recipes?
4 cups cubed seedless watermelon
1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
1 tsp. sugar, if desired
3 cups ice
Put all ingredients in a blender container and process until smooth. Divide evenly between 2 glasses and enjoy!
1 ½ cups hulled and sliced strawberries
2 Tbsp. cider vinegar
1 Tbsp. agave syrup or maple syrup
½ tsp. ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. olive oil
Put all ingredients in a blender container and process until smooth. Store in a jar in the refrigerator and use within a few days. Serve over fresh salads.
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