Six healthy foods to add to your summer diet – Sunbury Daily Item

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It’s almost summer — that amazing time of year when fresh produce abounds.

We love that there’s an abundance of fresh, delicious and healthy choices. Better yet, many of summer’s fruits and vegetables are brimming with secret health benefits. Here are some of our favorites and why they’re a particularly good choice in the summer.

1. Watermelon

Staying hydrated keeps your memory sharp and your mood stable.

It also helps keep your body cool (by sweating) during hot summer months.

The good news is that you don’t just have to drink water. You can eat it, too: in addition to delivering skin-protecting lycopene, watermelon is 92 percent water (hence the name). Another boon? Research shows that eating foods that are full of water helps keep you satisfied on fewer calories.

2. Corn

Nothing says summer like fresh sweet corn. And did you know that two antioxidants — lutein and zeaxanthin — in corn may act like natural sunglasses, helping to form macular pigment that filters out some of the sun’s damaging rays?

It’s true. The same antioxidants may also help lower your risk of developing age-related macular degeneration-the leading cause of blindness in people over the age of 60 (though much of the damage occurs decades earlier).

3. Tomatoes

There’s no question that sunscreen should be your first line of defense against the blazing summer sun.

But eating tomatoes could give you a little extra protection: consuming more lycopene-the carotenoid that makes tomatoes red-may protect your skin from sunburn.

In one study, participants who were exposed to UV light had almost 50 percent less skin reddening after they ate 2 1/2 tablespoons of tomato paste (or drank about 1 2/3 cups of carrot juice daily), in addition to their regular diet, for 10 to 12 weeks. Supplements, however, weren’t as effective.

4. Blueberries

Fresh blueberries straight from the berry patch are a special treat! Turns out the antioxidants in them may help ward off muscle fatigue by mopping up the additional free radicals that muscles produce during exercise, according to recent research out of New Zealand.

5. Cherries

This summer enjoy both the sweet and tart varieties. Drinking tart cherry juice can help you get a better night’s sleep and reduce post-workout pain.

But did you know that compounds in tart cherries may also help you slim down and get leaner?

The anthocyanins in tart cherries activate a molecule that helps rev up fat burning and decrease fat storage.

Not to be outdone, sweet cherries are loaded with potassium, a natural blood-pressure reducer. Plus, sweet cherries are rich in beta carotene, vitamin C, anthocyanins and quercetin, which may work together synergistically to fight cancer.

6. Iced tea

Sure, a tall glass of iced tea on a hot day is refreshing, but did you know it might also do your body good?

Studies show if you drink tea regularly, you may lower your risk of Alzheimer’s and diabetes, plus have healthier teeth and gums and stronger bones.

How? Tea is rich in a class of antioxidants called flavonoids.

Regardless of the variety — black, green, oolong, white or herbal — maximize the power of tea’s flavonoids by drinking it freshly brewed.

If you want to keep a batch of cold tea in your refrigerator, try adding a little lemon juice. The juice will help help preserve the flavonoids in the tea.

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