5 Summer Veggies You Should Be Eating
Spring and summer are indubitably the best seasons for healthy, colorful, delicious produce.
Sadly, few of us take full advantage of the incredible diversity of in-season produce: less than 10% of Americans consume the minimum recommendation for vegetable consumption each day, while only 12% meet the minimum recommendation for fruit.
For those of us who do our due diligence in fruit and veggie consumption, we tend to stick to the same old basics, consuming the same fruits and veggies year-round, with little to no seasonal variation.
Sheer boredom aside, this practice is hard on the environment and nutritionally limiting. Consuming foods that are in season tends to be cheaper and more environmentally friendly.
Rotating your produce consumption also ensures that you’ll be consuming a more diverse array of nutrients, enhancing immunity and reducing inflammation.
Just in time for summer, we’ve got the details on five in-season picks to sink your teeth into before the season’s up!
  1. Tomatoes
Tomatoes are arguably the most popular summer vegetables. Available in over 10,000 varieties (yes, really), with sizes ranging from tiny grape tomatoes to large beefsteak and heirloom varieties, tomatoes always test better off the vine, harvested in peak season.
One cup of fresh tomatoes contains 30 calories, 6% of the daily recommendation for dietary fiber, 30% of the daily value for Vitamin A, and a whopping 40% of the daily value for Vitamin C.
  1. Green Beans
If frozen or canned green beans have you turning up your nose, stop! Fresh green beans are a far cry from the sad, mushy canned green beans or rubbery frozen picks that scream “school cafeteria”. Fresh green beans are great in fresh salads (try them in a Nicoise!) or steamed as a side for grilled meats.
One cup of cooked green beans contains 40 calories and 13% of the daily recommendation for dietary fiber. Green beans are also a great source of micronutrients, containing 22% and 16% of the daily value for Vitamin K and Vitamin C, respectively.
  1. Cucumbers
Cucumbers grow prolifically in the summer, providing a large yield great for slicing atop salads or eating as fresh, hydrating snacks.
One cup of this summer favorite contains just 16 calories and 4% of the daily recommendation for dietary fiber.
  1. Salad Greens
If you’re still buying bagged iceberg from the refrigerated case in the grocery department, stop! Summer greens are incredibly flavorful and diverse, with an astounding variety of flavors, textures, and nutritional profiles.
Remember that nutritional diversity is important, so try new lettuces, mixing and matching your favorites to create eye and palate-pleasing textures and flavors. While nutritional content varies depending on specific variety, all salad greens are low in calories and a good source of micronutrients and fiber.
1 cup of fresh romaine lettuce, for example, contains 10 calories, 4% of the daily recommendation for fiber, and 82% of the daily value for Vitamin A.
  1. Zucchini
News flash: Zucchini? Healthy! Zucchini bread? Not healthy!
This seasonal staple is great for far more than just sugary quick breads! Put this prolific grower to use in spiralized zucchini noodles as a pasta alternative, or toss it on the grill for a stellar side.
One cup of fresh zucchini contains 20 calories and 6% of the daily recommendation for dietary fiber, and 30% of the daily value for Vitamin C.
Now you know which veggies to aim for the next time you’re at a salad bar during this hot summer season. Just remember to mix it up every once in a while and always, always drink lots of water!