Farmers markets are not only a great way to support local farms and farmers, but they also are a great way to try a variety of foods that are only in season during the warmer months. Eating fresh fruits and vegetables offers plenty of nutritional advantages, as many of them contain cancer-fighting antioxidants and essential vitamins and minerals.
Choosing to buy produce from a farmers market or farm share program ensures that you are getting the maximum amount of nutrients. When you buy directly from the farms, produce does not get packaged or sit on shelves for an extended period of time like it does at a supermarket, providing you with the maximum amount of health benefits.
Here are some delicious fruits and vegetables that are in season in June and July:
Beets are a root vegetable, grown underground, and are typically boiled or roasted but can be consumed raw or even pickled. Beets are an excellent source of folate, which can prevent anemia and has been linked to a reduction in the risk for stroke and cardiovascular disease. Beets also contain the mineral manganese, which aids enzymes associated with both metabolism and antioxidants.
Try this warm kale salad with quinoa and balsamic roasted beets, perfect for dinner on a summer night.
Also a root vegetable, radishes come in a variety of shapes and colors and are typically eaten raw. Radishes are crunchy and fat-free, making them a great alternative to chips, especially with a side of hummus. Radishes are also cholesterol-free and high in vitamin C, which helps boost the immune system.
To spice up your morning routine, try this recipe for breakfast tacos with avocado radish salsa.
Corn on the cob is a summer staple—great for family barbecues, warm-weather salads and pasta dishes. Corn is also an excellent source of folate and other B vitamins (thiamin, niacin and pantothenic acid), which support cellular energy production. Corn has 2 grams of fiber per serving along with the minerals magnesium and phosphate, which aid in the digestive process.
Take your corn off the cob with this zesty pickled corn succotash salad.
Blueberries, Raspberries, Blackberries and Strawberries
June and July are the best months of the year to indulge your sweet tooth in all of the fresh fruit in season. Mixed berries, specifically blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and strawberries, are an excellent source of antioxidants, vitamin C and salicylic acid, which has been linked to reducing the risk of heart disease.
Try these triple berry muffins, which make for a great summer breakfast or snack.
Zucchini and Summer Squash
Zucchini and summer squash are versatile summer veggies—they can be sautéed and enjoyed as a side dish, added to whole wheat pasta, or even baked into breads. Zucchini is low in calories, carbs and sugar and is high in potassium, manganese, vitamin A and vitamin C.
This zucchini summer skillet with poached eggs and garlic brown butter baguettes is a great way to enjoy zucchini for breakfast or lunch.
Arugula and Kale
Leafy, green vegetables are a great source of antioxidants and health-boosting nutrients. Arugula and kale can be used in salads or a tasty summer pesto, and the vegetables can be sautéed and even roasted. They both serve as excellent sources of vitamins A, C and K, as well as folate, potassium and fiber.
As a change of pace, try drinking your nutrients instead of eating them with this kale, spinach and pear smoothie.
Eating right doesn’t have to be boring, especially if you take advantage of a farmers market near you this summer. With a wide variety of produce to choose from, and a new selection to look at each week, a healthy diet can also mean being more adventurous than you would be at a supermarket.
Hilary Young is a writer dedicated to helping older Americans live healthier, more fulfilling lives. She currently blogs for HuffPost50, Fifty Is The New Fifty and Medical Guardian. You can find her on Twitter as @hyoungcreative.