In New Jersey, we often pass by farmer’s stands, corn fields, and farms that house delicious fresh Jersey produce! Summer brings an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables to grocery stores, farmers’ markets and local gardens. That means more opportunities to add tasty and heart-healthy foods to your everyday meals! The American Heart Association recommends at least 4.5 cups per day of fruits and vegetables as part of a healthy lifestyle that can help you avoid risks for heart disease and stroke.
When you’re scanning your local farmer’s market or grocery store, keep an eye out for seasonal produce. In the summer, strawberries, tomatoes, cantaloupe and more are great to add to your diet and help reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. Deep green leafy vegetables like spinach, kale and romaine lettuce are better choices than lighter green vegetables, which add crunch to salads but aren’t as rich in nutrients. Yellow and orange fruits and vegetables include mangos, peaches, squash and carrots. Think red with beets and strawberries or blue and purple with plums, blueberries and blackberries. There are so many options to choose from!
Buying in-season foods and foods grown closer to your home is generally better for your pocketbook. Using frozen fruits and vegetables, which are often less expensive than fresh produce, is always a good option too! Make sure to look for low-sodium vegetables and fruits with no added sugar or a minimal amount that are packed in their own juice, not heavy syrup. With frozen vegetables, select the plain variety, not those in high-calorie sauces.
Since grilling is so popular in summer, it’s good to remember that just about all your favorite colorful fruits and veggies can be grilled, alone or in kebabs, giving them delicious flavor! The trick is to cut them into pieces that will cook quickly and evenly. Brush with a healthy oil to prevent sticking or use a grill basket to keep them out of the line of fire. Some favorites include asparagus, avocado, bell peppers, corn, eggplant, mushrooms, onions, potatoes, squash and zucchini. Let the simple grilled goodness shine through, Don’t drown your grilled masterpiece in salty sauces, sugary condiments or heavy dressings.
For delicious recipes that include summer fruits and veggies, please visit https://recipes.heart.org/.