Superfoods make us think of exotic locations; hard to pronounce foods; high prices. But the truth is, there are lots of superfoods growing right now all across the country that yield just as much bang for the buck…if not more.
Okay, well, maybe not all. But let's take a look at some local, seasonal foods that definitely are super. And ounce for ounce, they're all significantly less expensive than those exotic superfoods, too.
- Watermelon: Summer isn't summer without watermelon, right? But it's more than just a watery melon. It's actually loaded with healthy properties. Watermelons are very high in vitamin C, beta carotene, lycopene, and vitamin A—antioxidants with immune boosting and cancer-fighting properties. It's also high in vitamins B1 and B6 which can contribute to electrolyte balance so you stay even more hydrated throughout the summer.
- Berries: A no-brainer when it comes to superfoods. We know berries have a bunch of benefits, but when they're fresh and in season, like they are now, it's time to go berry wild. Whether you prefer strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, or blackberries, they're all likely available now at your local market and loaded with antioxidants. Rich in vitamins C, K, and folate as well as potassium and fiber, berries are low in sugar, too. Meaning they won't spike your blood sugar.
- Kale: The benefits of a fresh leafy green vegetable are far superior to any dried fruit, root, or nut from anywhere in the world. Kale grows year-round and that's good news for your body. It contains vitamins A, C, K, and calcium. It's anti-inflammatory, rich in fiber, and contains omega-fatty acids, too. Make a raw kale salad with fresh berries for a truly seasonal superfood meal!
- Zucchini: These seasonal squash grow like weeds in the summer, making them one of the cheaper foods at your local farmers’ market. But that doesn't mean they're not super healthy. In fact, zucchini is one of the healthiest foods around! All that flavor and texture can also help lower cholesterol, reduce inflammation, boost immunity, and may help protect the prostate gland in men. How's that for super?
- Tomatoes: For some, the search for the perfect tomato is most compelling. Perhaps you grow your own, or perhaps you visit your farmers’ market for their selection of delicious heirlooms. Either way, eat plenty of these beauties loaded with the carotenoid lycopene, a phytochemical that's been linked to heart and bone health as well as immune function. But the juicy goodness doesn't stop there! Tomatoes are also great for your blood, kidneys, and eyes. Eat them fresh or cook them in your favorite meals. Some research has shown the benefits are even enhanced when cooked.
- Artichokes: The thistly artichoke is a summer treat (especially when grilled), even though it's a most labor-intensive food. But after you read about the health benefits, you might not mind so much. Artichokes have been shown to support healthy liver function. So eat them on a night of too much boozing, or the day after for hangover relief. They also boost immune function, support healthy digestion, improve gallbladder function, and all those antioxidants may keep cancer away, too.