June brings the official start of summer, and with it, a whole new spread of in-season fruits and veggies with unique health benefits.
Including some of this produce into that next backyard summer potluck could be good for your health.
Fruits like berries, veggies like asparagus and a number of other colorful summer food options are full of health benefits.
What’s in Season?
In an interview with dailyRx News, Deborah Gordon, MD, nutrition expert and operator of an integrative medical practice based in Ashland, Oregon, suggested some healthy options that are at their peak in June.
“Depending on your location, June is a wonderful month that starts with the end of spring crops (fresh lettuce, sugar snap peas, asparagus and salad turnips) and ends with the beginning of summer crops (tomatoes, green beans, and perhaps corn),” said Dr. Gordon. “Probably my favorite June arrival at the Growers' Market is berries!”
Bunches of Berries
Berries, particularly blueberries, are a seasonal summer fruit that have been praised by many health experts for their nutritional benefits.
"Scientists have shown that blueberries are loaded with compounds (phytonutrients) that may help prevent chronic diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes and some cancers,” the Mayo Clinic explains.
According to the Mayo Clinic, it is also thought that blueberries may improve short-term memory, while providing a boost of fiber and vitamin C.
Ask for More Asparagus
The green stalks of asparagus are unique both in their appearance and in their health benefits.
The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) says that this summer veggie is a good source of a number of healthy substances, including vitamin K, vitamin C and several antioxidants.
CDPH also notes, “Per one-half cup serving, asparagus has the highest content of folate of any vegetable.”
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), folate has been tied to a reduced risk of a number of health issues, including birth defects, certain cancers and depression.
According to Dr. Gordon, the colorful array of fresh fruits and veggies all have two major important values they provide the human body: fiber and micro-nutrients.
“Fiber is important not only for our own intestinal function but probably most importantly, fiber is excellent food for the probiotic species (the microbiome) that should be abundant in a healthy colon,” explained Dr. Gordon.
“Look at your shopping cart and your plate: At least two-thirds of your foods should be fruits and vegetables with enough chewiness that something is passing through to your colon for microbiome processing,” said Dr. Gordon. “When you eat asparagus, gnaw on that stem as far down to the tough end as you can go!”
Micronutrients are substances that are important to health, but are only required in a relatively small amount. Examples include vitamin A, zinc and iron.
“Micro-nutrients are too numerous to mention but are ‘color-coded’ to make life simple,” said Dr. Gordon, who suggested aiming to eat fruits and vegetables from each color of the rainbow every 48 hours.
For June, Dr. Gordon gave some fresh suggestions — yellow squash, orange carrots, red raspberries and fresh summer beets. Red cabbage, radicchio and eggplant are all great options from the red-purple color vein, and blueberries and a variety of leafy greens could round out the selection, said Dr. Gordon.
“Eat the leaves of chard and kale, or the plant itself of broccoli,” suggested Dr. Gordon. “Don't forget white (cauliflower) or pink (grapefruit)!”