We’re a few weeks into summer which means that summer fruit is at its peak season. Which means that I am doing happy dances through the produce isles of the grocery store because I don’t know about you but summer fruit is my absolute favorite.
Summer fruit is so jam-packed with so many health benefits that I’ve put together a little guide to these juicy little gems.
APRICOTS / PLUMS / PLUOTS
Apricots look like mini peaches due to their small size and fuzzy skin. They contain a high percentage of vitamins A, B3, C, K, E and potassium. Apricots originated on the Russian-Chinese border and later made their way into the Persian Empire & the Mediterranean. Spanish explorers introduced the fruit to the New World when they planted apricots in the gardens of Spanish missions in California. Turkey is the world’s largest producer of apricots.
Plums are a small stone fruit related peaches and cherries. They tend to have a sweet and tart taste. Plums are rich in dietary in sorbitol and isatin which helps regulate smooth functioning of the digestive system. Plums are also full of minerals potassium, fluoride and iron. Plums are native in China, America and Europe.
Floyd Zaiger of Zaiger Genetics first bred and trademarked the pluot in 1989. Pluots are a hybrid of plums and apricots, featuring a 70% / 30% ratio of plum to apricot. Because a pluot is mostly plum, it looks & tastes more like a plum than an apricot. Pluots contain high amounts of vitamins A and C which support eyesight, cell growth and immune system health.
Is there anything more quintessential to the summertime than a big ol’ juicy watermelon? Watermelons contain nearly 92% water making it a refreshing choice when the summer heat sets in. I love to blend watermelon up with fresh herbs like basil or mint to make watermelon water. Watermelons contain high levels of vitamins A, B6 and C, lycopene and antioxidants. Watermelons are also rich in an amino acid called L-citrulline, which the body converts to L-arginine, an essential amino acid that helps relax blood vessels and improve circulation. Fun fact: Did you know there’s a yellow flesh watermelon called Yellow Crimson? (Though I have yet to see it in real life.)
CLICK THROUGH FOR THE REST OF THE GUIDE & VIDEO AT THE END.
PEACHES & NECTARINES
The main difference between peaches and nectarines is that peaches have a fuzzy skin while nectarines have a smooth skin. Peaches & nectarines are both native to China. They come in colors yellow or white. The yellow variety is juicier and more acidic whereas the white variety are less acidic with a milder sweet taste. Aside from the color, there are two different varieties of peaches & nectarines: freestone and clingstone–if flesh easily separates from the pit or not. Peaches & nectarines are high in vitamins A, C, E, K and six of the B complex vitamins. They are also notably high in potassium content.
STRAWBERRIES / BLUEBERRIES / RASPBERRIES / BLACKBERRIES
I have yet to meet a person who doesn’t like strawberries (although one of my aunts is allergic to strawberries which would pretty much be torture to me). Strawberries contain significantly high amounts of phenolic flavonoid phyto-chemicals called anthocyanins and ellagic acid. (Phew! What a mouthful!) In layman’s terms this means they increase HDL (good) cholesterol, lower blood pressure and help protect the body against cancer. One serving of strawberries provides more vitamin C than an orange.
I always specifically think of antioxidants when I think of blueberries because when I was young my dad used to tell me to drink blueberry juice. “It’s full of antioxidants,” he’d say–to which I would roll my eyes. And what do you know, my dad was right. Blueberries contain the highest antioxidant capacity of all fresh fruit. They are rich in vitamins C, B6 and K and are native to North America. Blueberries contain a type of flavonoid known as anthocyanins, which are responsible for giving foods like cranberries, red cabbage and eggplants deep red, purple and blue hues.
Raspberries belong to the rose (Rosaceae) family of plants, which includes apples, apricots, blackberries, cherries, loquats, peaches, pears, plums and strawberries. Raspberries contain strong antioxidants such as vitamin C, manganese, quercetin and gallic acid that fight against cancer, heart and circulatory disease. Raspberries come in the colors red, yellow, purple and black. Red raspberries are the most commercially widespread & well-known. My goal this summer is to find & try the other varieties.
The dark color of blackberries indicates a high concentration of antioxidants. Blackberries contain vitamins A, B1, vitamin B2, vitamin B3, vitamin B6, folate, vitamin C, vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) and vitamin K (phylloquinone). Blackberries include minerals calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium and zinc. Blackberries are native to Asia, Europe. North America, Australia, Africa and South America and have the most widespread geographic origin of any fruit. Greeks and Romans used blackberries in medicine. Blackberries have also been used to make an indigo or purple dye.
Here’s a video summarizing the quick facts about these summer fruits:
Which summer fruit is your favorite? I love strawberries and watermelon!
click here for more recipes