Eat Seasonally! The Top Superfoods For Every Time Of The Year
One common fruit that grows bountifully in the summer are peaches. This popular stone fruit offers many nutritional benefits such as vitamins A, C, E, and K as well as potassium, beta-carotene, and B vitamins. These nutrients can lead to improved skin and heart health, eye health, and can help prevent diabetes and cancer. Peaches can also help the body absorb iron, so adding this fruit to your diet during pregnancy can be beneficial for both mom and baby.
One of the best aspects of cucumbers is their high water content. While eating a cucumber doesn’t take the place of staying hydrated through drinking water, it is a great way to add a little more hydration to you – or your kids’ – day.
Cucumbers are also inflammation fighters that benefit your digestive, brain, and heart health. They contain antioxidants that fight off many diseases and provide about 10% of the daily recommended value of vitamin K per serving.
In season from early summer to late fall, raspberries offer a delicious sweet taste perfect for any time of day but have only 5 grams of net carbs per 100 gram serving. Raspberries contain large amounts of manganese, folic acid, dietary fiber, vitamin C, and antioxidants. Eating a serving of this fruit can help eye health, prevent infections, regulate feminine health, and aid in weight loss.
While tea is shelf stable all year long, red raspberry leaf tea is made during peak freshness in the summer and is especially beneficial for menstrual cycles and pregnant and lactating women.
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This small superfood is packed with a ton of nutrients and is known for its antioxidant properties. Blueberries also have high vitamin K, vitamin C, potassium, and folate content. Just one cup of blueberries can provide almost 15% of your dietary fiber needs. This nutrient dense berry is a great option to fight the affects of aging on the brain and inflammation in the body, as well as support heart and digestive health.
Like the berries mentioned above, blackberries also contain antioxidants and polyphenols that fight off and prevent cancer. Their folate content is also beneficial for pregnant women as it encourages healthy growth for the baby. A few other health benefits blackberries boast include maintaining healthy skin, strong bones, digestion, and immunity from the B vitamins, calcium, iron, zinc, and vitamins A, C, E and K.
Strawberries are the longest in-season berry with them being freshest from late spring to late fall. This popular, red fruit is most commonly known to promote a healthy heart and cardiovascular system, but the benefits definitely don’t stop there. Strawberries also help eye health, reduce constipation due to their fiber content, lower the risk of diabetes, and act as an anti-aging food because of the positive affect of skin, hair, and bone health. This fruit can act as a natural teeth whitener as well from the malic acid present. Potassium, magnesium, antioxidants, and vitamin C are among the many nutrients you’ll get from strawberries.
Cantaloupe, also known as muskmelon, is a fruit from the Cucurbitaceae family and is a secret superfood. One cup of this orange melon gives a whopping 108% of the recommended daily value of vitamin A and 98% of the recommended vitamin C. It also contains a good amount of potassium, folate, fiber, and has about 50 calories per cup.
The phytochemicals present give cantaloupe anti-inflammatory properties that will reduce the risk of chronic inflammatory conditions like arthritis, cancer, and heart disease. The fiber and high water content help with digestion and detoxing the body.
Honeydew melon is a less popular fruit from the melon family that has a green inner flesh. Honeydew is the only melon that benefits from a drier climate rather than a humid one. Other than hydrating your body because it’s made of 90% water, the biggest benefit honeydew has is vitamin C. Just one cup of this fruit supplies about 50% of the daily recommended value which then benefits immunity, skin health, and prevents many diseases. Be aware of the sugar content as it is does have a higher level compared to other melons like cantaloupe and watermelon.
Yet another melon hits the summer list and this one may be the favorite of all. Watermelon is another fruit that is majorly comprised of water and can be a great option for especially hot summer days. As one cup of diced watermelon has less than 50 calories but supplies many vitamins and minerals – like vitamins A and C, potassium, and antioxidants – and can help with weight loss.
10. Summer Squash
This most likely doesn’t come as a surprise to you, but this is the season where summer squash flourish and thrive. This grouping includes zucchini, yellow squash, pattypan squash and more. Compared to winter squash, summer squash have less sugar, fewer carbs, and therefore a lower glycemic index score. While each squash has slightly different nutritional benefits, all contain fiber, potassium, and vitamins C and A.
Cherries are truly a summer superfood that can promote overall health. The biggest benefit they provide is decreasing both oxidative stress and inflammation. A few other ways they can improve health is helping with muscle soreness, blood pressure, arthritis, gout, and sleep.
Cherries have such a large impact on these health issues because of the antioxidants, fiber, carotenoids, melatonin, vitamin C, and anti-inflammatory compounds they contain. While they are only in season for a few short weeks to months, be sure to take advantage of this delicious fruit while they are available!
Tomatoes act as a staple for many cultures and diets around the world because of the ease and quick growth of tomato plants in warm climates. A few of the nutrients that a tomato has include potassium, vitamins C and A, iron, magnesium, and fiber. Tomatoes can protect the heart, improve vision, and prevent gallstones and chronic diseases.
Tomatoes are a nightshade thought, so they can cause inflammation in certain people. If you think they may be an irritant for you, check out this article all about nightshades.
13. Bell Peppers
Be aware that bell peppers are another nightshade that can irritate the gut lining. If you do tolerate them, bell peppers are an excellent source of vitamin C. While many believe that oranges are the best produce to eat for vitamin C, red bell peppers actually contain over twice as much for the same 100 gram serving.
Bell peppers also contain a large amount of vitamin A and also add to the daily recommended value of Vitamin B6 and folate. While they are packed with nutrients, they are very low in calories and a great alternative to unhealthy snack foods due to their crunchy texture.
Shallots are a smaller type of onion and used often in ayurvedic medicine. They begin harvest in the beginning of summer and continue to be harvested until late fall. Like other Alliums, shallots can help in cases of heart disease and cancer and can also work to detox and toxins or chemicals from the body.
Peas are technically from the legume family but they offer many nutritional benefits. Eating a 100 gram serving provides potassium, fiber, vitamin B-6, 5 grams of protein, and vitamins A and C.
1. Sweet Potatoes + Pumpkin
It is easy to fall in love with the flavors and huge amounts of vitamin A that come from items belonging to the “dark orange veggies” family. Sweet potatoes richly boast potassium, calcium, vitamin C, and antioxidants. Other standouts in this group are butternut squash, carrots, and pumpkins.
2. Cruciferous Vegetables
These vegetables help in maintaining a good and healthy memory through the coming years. The suggestion came from research which found women who ingest foods in adequate amounts to have the sharpest memory.
The food items from this group include turnips, collards, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale, cabbage, and broccoli. In addition to their ability to fortify memory, cruciferous vegetables can fight cancer through their natural ingredients called “indole alkaloids.” People can also get vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber from these juicy vegetables.
Pomegranates are powerhouses of antioxidants that specifically work to protect the brain and boost memory. Research has also shown that they can prevent hardening and thickening of arteries.
Beets are beneficial in two great ways. First, they are rich in folate, or folic acid, a nutrient that prevents embryonic defects in the neural tube. For pregnant women, beets should be considered. Second, beets contain a certain betacyanin found to possess a cancer-fighting ability. They are particularly useful in preventing and treating colon cancer.
Alliums are good for eliminating carcinogens and other toxins that harm the liver. Research suggests that they also help in some cases of cancer and heart diseases. Shallots, chives, scallions, leeks, onions, and garlic are prominent members of the Allium genus.
6. Olive oil
People who are at risk of heart disease have got good news about olive oil to be happy about. Research on olive oil-rich Mediterranean diets shows that olive oil can cut the risk of death for heart disease patients by about 50%. This stems from the fact that olive oil contains monosaturated fats. Olive oil also contains antioxidants.
One good thing about tea is it contains heart-supportive antioxidant catechins. This antioxidant is credited for its ability to strengthen arterial walls and hinder blood clotting.
8. Red Wine/Grape Juice
Grapes have substantial amounts of vitamins such as B6, B1, and C, but they are more celebrated for the phytochemicals that they contain – in particular, the phenolics. Phenolics, sourced from the skin of grapes, decrease the risks of developing heart diseases. One of such phenols is resveratrol, a natural compound that has anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, and antioxidant properties.
1. Cruciferous Vegetables
Cruciferous vegetables are a group that is comprised of cabbage, Brussels sprouts, collard greens, and broccoli – all from the Brassica family. These vegetables are all considered sulfuric which aid in methylation – your body’s biochemical superhighway that down-regulates inflammation and keeps your detox pathways functioning optimally. The many other nutrients abundant in these vegetables can also aid in enhancing heart health, fighting cancer, and rebalancing blood sugar.
2. Citrus Fruits (Grapefruit, Oranges & Clementines)
Citrus fruits come in many different varieties, all of which are based on 3 species of the mandarin, pomelo, and citron. All other citrus fruits are derivatives and by-products of these three, even the common lemon or navel orange. Though they are normally available all year, they produce the best taste and most juice in colder weather climates. Citrus fruit offers Vitamin C, folate, antioxidants, and potassium. They also help the body protect from cancer, cardiovascular disease, and birth defects that can develop in the first trimester of pregnancy.
3. Winter Squash
Butternut squash, pumpkins, spaghetti squash, and acorn squash are all classified as winter squash and are freshest between and fall and winter seasons. Winter Squash produce amounts of carotenoids, Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, fiber, magnesium and potassium. These squash can help with heart health, diabetes, and cancer.
Leeks are part of the Allium family which also include onions, garlic, and chives. Though in season from early fall to late spring, leeks’ freshness peaks in January. Leeks offer many vitamins including vitamin K, vitamin A, and vitamin C as well as folate and iron. Healthy pregnancies, improved gut and heart health, boosted metabolism, and protection against cancer are all benefits that can arise by adding leeks to your diet regularly.
Kiwifruits are packed with nutrients, vitamins, and minerals and provide many health benefits. There is actually more vitamin C in kiwi than in an orange, helping skin and respiratory health along with a boosted immune system. Kiwi also aid in healthy digestion and can improve vision and eye health.
There are many different types of pears all with their own specific range of when they are in season, though most are in season through the winter. Pears offer high levels of vitamin C, antioxidants, and fiber. Pears can also help fight radical free damage, promote heart health, and protect against weight gain and obesity.
Rutabaga are a bigger, more nutritious relative of turnips that are in season from October to March. This vegetable, that is also related to cruciferous vegetables, is high in Vitamin C, Potassium, and fiber. Due to the high fiber content, rutabaga help with digestion and can be used for help relieve constipation. Rutabagas can also contribute to cancer prevention because of the antioxidant present, and can act as an immune booster.
Pomegranates can help cardiovascular health by preventing arteries from thickening and hardening. This is a superfood that protect brain health and boost memory from the antioxidants present.
Monterey, California is home to the largest harvest of artichokes throughout the entire United States. Peak season for artichokes is during the spring months but they are available all year long. Artichokes can be eaten many ways and offer health benefits like Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Folate, magnesium, potassium, and fiber.
Asparagus is another vegetable that, while available all year long, peaks through the spring months. This vegetable is sulfur-rich, contains moderate amounts of potassium which can lower blood pressure, and provides over half of the recommended daily allowance for folic acid in just one 5.3 ounce serving.
While grapefruit are in season a large part of the year, get them while you can as springtime is the last leg. Starting in June, grapefruit will take a 4-month hiatus until they are back in season in October.
Grapefruit is one of the lowest-fructose fruits while it offers a large amount vitamin C. It can help protect heart health and prevent cancer as well as aid in skin health and weight loss.
4. Green Onions
The culinary world is still not in agreeance over the relationship between green onions, scallions, and spring onions, but whether they are the same or slightly different, they are all in peak season starting in spring. These onions are harvested before they have time to grow the onion bulb. Green onions are an extremely low-calorie vegetable but offer a large amount of vitamins A and K.
Most herbs can be found in stores and grown indoors all year long, but their natural life cycle begins with growth in the springtime. Some warm weather herbs include basil, cilantro, oregano, parsley, rosemary, and sage.
Each herb offers different health benefits and can be used in different ways. For example, basil is an antioxidant, immune booster, and pain reducer. Oregano can help decrease bloating, improve digestion, and provide antibacterial properties.
Kiwifruit is one of the few that thrive in colder weather, so the springtime wraps up the kiwi season. If you love kiwi, be sure to pick some up before the end of May. It’s no doubt the kiwifruit is a quiet superfood that doesn’t get as much credit as it should. Just one kiwi offers over the daily value of vitamin C and about half of the recommended daily value of vitamin K. Kiwis promote eye health, skin health, respiratory health, bone health, and is a large source of antioxidants.
7. Leafy Greens
Ever wonder why they call it “spring mix” at the grocery store? Greens like spinach, arugula, and romaine lettuce are in season starting in the spring and into the summer. These non-starchy vegetables boast nutrients like folate, B vitamins, and magnesium while feeding the healthy gut bacteria in your microbiome.
Depending on where at in the world they are grown, strawberries begin their peak season in spring or early summer. This lower-glucose fruit supplies calcium, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, folate, fiber, and vitamins A and C and can promote heart, brain, and eye health.
If you want to learn more about your own health case please check out our free health evaluation. We offer webcam as well as in-person consultations for people across the country and around the world.
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BY DR. WILL COLE
Dr. Will Cole, IFMCP, DNM, DC, leading functional medicine expert, consults people around the world via webcam and locally in Pittsburgh. He received his doctorate from Southern California University of Health Sciences and post doctorate education and training in functional medicine and clinical nutrition. He specializes in clinically researching underlying factors of chronic disease and customizing a functional medicine approach for thyroid issues, autoimmune conditions, hormonal imbalances, digestive disorders, and brain problems. Dr. Cole was named one of the top 50 functional medicine and integrative doctors in the nation and is the best selling author of Ketotarian and The Inflammation Spectrum.
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