Nutrition: Healthy summertime foods

Bri Edwards PHOTO CREDIT: Contributed

The days of fun in the sun, poolside hangs and backyard barbecues are here, and they are fabulous. However, one question I often get is how to prioritize health while attending the summer fun and eating at the barbeque. The last choice we want to have to make is between missing out on all the fun in the name of health or enjoying the party without food stress and anxiety.

The truth is, many of the foods available at barbecues and that are in season throughout the summer are filled with nutrients our bodies are needing and craving, especially in the heat. Not only do many of our summertime favorites provide us with lots of great fiber and vitamins, but they also contain essential minerals that are lost quickly when we’re in the heat of the sun.

Here are some foods to focus on at your next barbeque that will have you feeling healthy, hydrated and ready to sit back, relax and chill:

1. Watermelon. A beloved fruit here in the midwest when the summers get hot, watermelon doesn’t just taste amazing, it is amazing for our health. Watermelon is a very hydrating food, as it has a high water concentration. With all the water that comes with watermelon, it will help all of the other wonderful vitamins and minerals it contains, like vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium and vitamin B6, be carried to the cells as proper hydration is essential for vitamins and minerals to be absorbed by our cells.

2. Berries. Nothing is better than a sweet, juicy in-season berry. These little berries — whether we’re talking about strawberries, blueberries, raspberries or blackberries — have a great amount of antioxidants that keep our bodies protected from oxidative stress. Berries also are low in sugar, so they are a great go-to for blood sugar balance.

3. Fresh mixed greens. A garden-to-table salad in the summer? Yes, please. Salad greens are full of fiber that is great for our gastrointestinal and cardiovascular health. And while not all salad greens are created equal, you can feel good about whatever you choose, as they all have many vitamins and minerals that are essential for optimal health. But if you’re looking to kick it up a notch health wise, you should try spinach, romaine, kale or arugula, as these have several B vitamins that greatly improve health overall, but especially women’s health.

4. Corn on the cob. A food that has been under much scrutiny for awhile. Unless your corn is being processed to make foods like tortillas, chips and high fructose corn syrup or coming from a GMO crop, we’re looking at some great health benefits to be had from an ear of corn. The corn consumed in its most natural state has a good amount of fiber, vitamins and antioxidants that all have been very supportive of many cultures for thousands of years.

So, when you’re asked to bring a dish to pass to your next summer party, consider including one of these summer-fresh foods to up the vitamin and mineral profile of the dish, as well as the satisfaction and flavor.

Bri Edwards is a holistic health coach at Healthy Foundations in Dubuque.

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