Summer comes with plenty of adventures, from road trips on sunny days to campouts on starry nights.
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Why not add a little adventure to your diet for the upcoming summer, too? Below are a few fresh summertime foods — some staples, some surprises. They’ll add flavors to your life and benefits for your health.
If you hear “radish” and think “red” only, think again. Radishes come in a wide variety of colors, including red, pink, purple and white. Be adventurous and try them all. These cruciferous crops include fiber for digestive health, phytonutrients that protect against many diseases, and a pungent flavor that will help clear clogged sinuses or soothe a sore throat. Here’s a tip: If you don’t like them raw, try sautéing radishes with your next 100 percent whole grain pasta dish. Or add slices to your sandwich for a bit of spice and crunch.
When was the last time you munched on some watercress? Probably not recently, unless it was a garnish atop your entrée at a restaurant. But this leafy green deserves an upgrade from garnish status because of its high nutrient value. Watercress packs a massive amount of disease-fighting antioxidants such as lutein and beta carotene into a tiny number of calories: only 7–8 calories for every 2 cups! Like other leafy greens, watercress also includes high levels of vitamins A, C and K. This green comes from the mustard family, so use it to add peppery bite to salads, sandwiches or other dishes that call for greens.
If you like a little tang in your summer, work more lime into your daily eating. Along with other citrus fruits such as lemons and oranges, limes do more than just flavor your glass of water. For one thing, they’re rich in vitamin C, which provides a boost to your immune system and an anti-inflammatory effect. Other possible benefits of citrus fruits are emerging in studies, such as reducing the risk of ischemic stroke in women. Get more lime by squeezing it on chicken, pork or fish before grilling; using it in homemade salad dressings; adding lime to flavor plain yogurt; including lime juice in your favorite guacamole recipe; or adding chunks of lime to a fruit salad.
There’s no big surprise here — strawberries, blueberries and blackberries taste like summer. Better yet, they’re good for your brain. They help preserve cognitive function and may even help you prevent memory loss as you age. They also contain compounds called anthocyanins that are good for reducing stress. Bonus: They’re rich in nutrients but relatively low in calories, meaning you can munch on them by the handful. Or, you can use them in smoothies, smoothie bowls, salads or any other recipes that need a healthy hint of sweetness.
5. Sprouting garlic
Remember that garlic you brought home a while ago that is now sitting in the back of the pantry and growing bright green shoots from the cloves? Don’t throw it away, even if that’s your first impulse. Scientists report that this type of garlic actually has more heart-healthy antioxidants than the fresh counterpart. And you can use it in your cooking with ease. Whether caramelized on the stove, chopped raw, infused in vinaigrette, or pureed in a soup, sprouting garlic is a great addition to summer dishes.
By Kristin Kirkpatrick, MS, RD, LD