10 Fruits and Vegetables you must include in your diet this summer!
We all know by now that we must include at least 5 portions of veg/fruit in our diet and stay as far away as possible from processed food in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle. However, there are fruits and vegetables out there that are in season, fresh, delicious and packed with health benefits. Read on to discover our top 10 and why you should be including them in your diet this summer.
Avocados are an excellent source of monounsaturated fat and vitamin E. However, avocados are high in calories due to the high fat content. Half an avocado counts as one portion of your 5-a day. Avocados have more soluble fiber than other fruit and contain a number of useful minerals such as iron, copper and potassium and are a good source of the B vitamin, folate. The oils provided by an avocado include oleic acid and linoleic acid and are therefore recommended as part of a balanced diet to prevent high cholesterol and hence, protect your heart and arteries. Alongside the benefits outlined above, they are a rich source of antioxidant vitamin E, plus a group of carotenes which are thought to help keep the eyes healthy.
Cherries are a good source of fiber, vitamins and minerals, including potassium, calcium, vitamin A and folic acid. They are also well known for their antioxidant properties. A portion of 14 cherries counts as one of your five-a-day. Antioxidants are vital for good health as they protect our cells from damage caused by oxidants, or free radicals. Cherries contain antioxidants known as anthocyanins and cyanidin which may have anti-inflammatory effects which could be beneficial in inflammatory conditions although there is no robust research on this. There are also studies being conducted on its effects in speeding recovery after exercise, improving sleep and help with gout.
Corn is rich in nutrients including the antioxidants beta-carotene and lutein, the carotenoids which give the vegetables their distinctive colour. These are essential for preventing eye diseases. Corn also contains certain B vitamins and vitamin C, as well as magnesium and potassium. Sweetcorn has high amounts of insoluble fibre – which is why the husks of the corn kernels don’t get broken down which is good for your gut, as it feeds the good bacteria in your tummy.
Mangos have an impressive vitamin content that assures overall health. They are rich in potassium and magnesium. They also contain selenium, calcium, iron and phosphorus. Mangos are vitamin powerhouses as they are rich in riboflavin, vitamin B6, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, niacin, folate, thiamin and pantothenic acid. These components help you avoid a host of diseases that can come from deficiencies of these vitamins and minerals. Powerful antioxidants in mangos have the power to neutralize free radicals throughout the body.
When it comes to health, berries have a fabulous reputation. Blueberries are packed with antioxidants, called anthocyanins, that may help keep memory sharp as you age, and raspberries contain ellagic acid, a compound with anti-cancer properties. All berries are great sources of fiber, a nutrient important for a healthy digestive system.
Strawberries also contain anthocyanins, which may help protect the nervous system and blood vessels. Blueberries are a rich source of antioxidant vitamin C, vitamin K and manganese. Raspberries contain anthocyanins (mentioned above) and another phytochemical called quercetin, found to help slow cancer growth. One cup of blackberries is packed with fiber and is an excellent source of vitamins C and K and manganese. Blackberries have been found to have the highest amount of antioxidants – higher than the other 3 berries mentioned above! They're also bursting with all types of phytochemicals, which have been shown to help fight or prevent cancers like liver, colon, lung and esophogeal. Blackberries also contain quercetin, an antioxidant that may help decrease the risk of heart disease.
Though commonly thought to be a vegetable, cucumber is actually a fruit. It's high in beneficial nutrients, as well as certain plant compounds and antioxidants that may help treat and even prevent some conditions. Also, cucumbers are low in calories and contain a good amount of water and soluble fiber, making them ideal for promoting hydration and aiding in weight loss. Cucumbers contain antioxidants, including flavonoids and tannins.
Courgettes contain very few calories and have a high water content, which makes them a dieter's friend. They aren't a powerhouse of micronutrients, but they do provide useful amounts of immune system-boosting vitamin C, and significant levels of potassium, which is key to controlling blood pressure. The soluble fibre in the skin slows down digestion, and so stabilises blood sugar and insulin levels. Soluble fibre also helps prevent constipation and relieves irritable bowel symptoms.
Watermelon is a staple at picnics and backyard parties everywhere. You know watermelon is sweet and juicy, but did you know that your favorite warm weather treat is also bursting with healthy benefits as well? When you bite into a cool wedge of watermelon, you probably do not have antioxidants on your mind. You might be pleasantly surprised to discover that watermelon is a great source of the free radical fighting warriors, specifically in the form of vitamin C and lycopene. Free radicals are renegade molecules that are missing an electron. To once again make themselves complete, that go off in search of an electron to steal from another complete molecule. Antioxidants, like vitamin C and lycopene intervene by providing one of their extra electrons to the free radical, thereby neutralizing it and preventing it from causing cellular damage.
The unique phytonutrients in green peas provide us with key antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. Included in these phytonutrients are some recently-discovered green pea phytonutrients called saponins. Due to their almost exclusive appearance in peas, these phytonutrients actually contain the scientific word for peas (Pisum) in their names: pisumsaponins I and II, and pisomosides A and B. When coupled with other phytonutrients in green peas—including phenolic acids like ferulic and caffeic acid, and flavanols like catechin and epicatechin—the combined impact on our health may be far-reaching.
Beets are naturally high in disease-fighting phytonutrients, antioxidants, vitamins and trace minerals. In fact, beets are an excellent source of a certain type of phytonutrients called betalains, which have powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and supply many of the health benefits of beets. Betalains also act as a natural plant pigment and are responsible for providing beets with their vibrant color. Plus, beet greens also contain a good amount of lutein and zeaxanthin, two carotenoids that play a central role in eye health.
It is important to consume at least 5 fruit or vegetable a day, however, do not forget that these little miracles are also very high in sugar. To maintain a healthy diet you must consume all food in moderate amounts and in balanced manner.
If you require any further information please do not hesitate to contact our pharmacists at 0203 630 1244.