Diane May Nutrition Blog

Whats In Season This Summer

June 12th, 2016

I’m a huge proponent of eating seasonally and locally. Summer happens to be one of the yummiest seasons for fresh produce and I have a list of what to grab this summer and all the wonderful health benefits they provide. All of the nutrient data came from the USDA data base, an excellent source of information regarding nutrient density of fresh fruits and vegetables.

Arugula: A spicy cruciferous green that is packed with high nitrate levels (more than 250 mg/100 g). High intakes of dietary nitrate have been shown to lower blood pressure, reduce the amount of oxygen needed during exercise and enhance athletic performance. Arugula has high levels of sulfur-containing compounds (namely sulforaphane) that have been shown to lower the risk of developing certain cancers. It is also packed with Vitamin K and Alpha lipoic acid. Two cups of arugula (about 40 grams) contains approximately 10 calories. Arugula also contains 1 gram of protein, 0.3 grams of fat, and 1.5 grams of carbohydrate (including 0.6 grams of fiber and 0.8 grams of sugar). Try adding it to salads instead of your usual romaine or spinach for a twist!

Avocado: Botanically classified as a stone fruit, avocado has a substantial amount of healthy monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA). Avocados are a naturally nutrient-dense food and contain nearly 20 vitamins and minerals. They contain 25 mg/ounce of a natural plant sterol called beta sitosterol that can help maintain healthy cholesterol as well as lutein and zeaxanthin for vision, beta carotene, Vitamin K, and folate.  One serving (one-fifth of an avocado, approximately 40 grams) contains 64 calories, almost 6 grams of fat, 3.4 grams of carbohydrate, less than a gram of sugar, almost 3 grams of fiber and almost 1 gram of protein. Avocados are a great source of vitamins C, E, K, and B-6, as well as riboflavin, niacin, folate, pantothenic acid, magnesium and potassium. They also provide lutein, beta-carotene and omega-3 fatty acids. They are calorically dense, but a great source of healthy fat and nutrients, so enjoy!

Beets: High in dietary nitrate, they can improve muscle oxygenation and are also very high in fiber, which can help aid constipation.  One cup of raw beets contains 58 calories 13 grams of carbohydrate (including 9 grams of sugar and 4 grams of fiber) and 2 grams of protein. It provides 1% of daily Vitamin A needs, 2% of calcium11% of vitamin C and 6% of iron. Beets are a rich source of folate and manganese and also contains thiamine, riboflavin, vitamin B-6, pantothenic acid, choline, betaine, magnesium phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper and selenium. Roast them and add them to an arugula salad with goat cheese for a delicious and nutritious summer salad.

Berries: This is the season to indulge in all kinds of berries.  They are loaded with antioxidants and soluble fiber.  I will use blueberries as an example. They are loaded with a flavonoid known as anthocyanin, which is responsible for giving foods like blueberries, cranberries, red cabbage and eggplants their red, purple and blue hues. One cup of fresh blueberries contains 84 calories, 0 grams of cholesterol, 1.1 grams of protein, 0.49 grams of fat, 21 grams of carbohydrate and 3.6 grams of dietary fiber (14% of daily requirements). That same one-cup serving provides 24% of daily vitamin C, 5% vitamin of B6 and 36% of vitamin K needs. Blueberries also provide iron, calcium, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, sodium, manganese, zinc, copper, folate, beta carotene, folate, choline, vitamin A and vitamin E. In addition to anthocyanins, blueberries contain phenolic compounds such as quercetin, kaempferol, myricetin and chlorogenic acid – all of which contribute to their antioxidant capacity. Eat them as a snack or make a sweet dessert that is heart healthy!

Cherries: Sweet cherries contain fiber, vitamin C, carotenoids, and anthocyanins. They can assist with inflammation and can aide in sleep as they are a natural source of melatonin. Consuming tart cherries may activate PPAR (peroxisome proliferator activating receptors) in your body’s tissues, which help regulate genes involved in fat and glucose metabolism. This activation may help to lower your risk of heart disease. A serving of cherries is one cup and they are 70 calories. Total carbohydrate is 12 grams, 2 grams of dietary fiber, 1 gram of protein, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, calcium and iron.

Cucumbers: Made up of 95% water, it is low in calories and can assist with dehydration in those hot summer months. As a member of the Cucurbitaceae family of plants, cucumbers contain high levels of nutrients known as cucurbitacins. Cucurbitacins are known to block the JAK-STAT and MAPK signaling pathways that are used by cancer cells to proliferate and survive. Cucumbers contain cucurbitacins A, B, C, D and E. 1 cup of raw sliced cucumber with peel (approximately 119 grams) contains 115 grams of water, 16 calories, 0.8 grams of protein, 0.2 grams of fat and 2.9 grams of carbohydrate (including 0.9 grams of fiber and 1.8 grams of sugar.One cup of cucumber provides 11% of vitamin K, 4% of vitamin C, magnesium, potassium and manganese and 2% of vitamin A, thiamin, riboflavin, B-6, folate, pantothenic acid, calcium, iron, phosphorus, zinc and copper needs for the day.Cucumbers also contain lignans, which research has shown may decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease as well as several types of cancer. Keep them cold for a refreshing snack or add to water to add flavor.

Eggplant: Contains many beneficial nutrients and phytochemical compounds that benefit health. The fiber, potassium Vitamin C, vitamin B-6, and phytonutrient content in eggplants all support heart health. One cup of raw eggplant contains 20 calories, 0.8 grams of protein, 4.82 grams of carbohydrate 0.15 grams of fat and 2.5 grams of dietary fiber. A one-cup serving meets 10% of daily fiber needs, 5% potassium, 3% vitamin C, 5% vitamin B-6, 1% iron and 2%magnesium. Eggplants also contain anthocyanins, Many of the nutritional benefits gained from consuming eggplants are obtained from the skin of the vegetable. Eggplant skin is full of fiber, potassium and magnesium and antioxidants. In fact, its phenolic content makes it such a potent free radical scavenger that the eggplant is ranked among the top 10 vegetables in terms of oxygen radical absorbance capacity. Try grilling sliced eggplant or roasting it in the oven with some sea salt and olive oil.

Green beans:  Green beans contain a high amount of chlorophyll, which helps in normal blood clotting, wound healing, hormonal balance, deodorizing and detoxification of the body and promotes digestive health. It has healing effects on oxidation and inflammatory conditions such as arthritis and fibromyalgia. One cup of fresh green beans (about 100 grams) contains 31calories,0 grams of fat, 7 grams of carbohydrate, 3 grams of fiber, 3 grams of sugar and 2 grams of protein. Green beans are a rich source of Vitamins A, C and K and also contain folate, thiamin, riboflavin, iron,magnesium and potassium. Try steaming them and adding them to salads or eating them raw as a snack.

Stone Fruits (fruits with large pits): I will use peaches (nectarines are very similar) as an example. The nutritional vitamins and fiber in peaches can help with heart disease, diabetes and cancer. One raw medium peach (147 grams) has 50 calories, 0.5 grams of fat, 0 grams of cholesterol and sodium, 15 grams of carbohydrate, 13 grams of sugar, 2 grams of fiber and 1 gram of protein. It provides 6% of your daily vitamin A needs and 15% of daily vitamin C needs. One medium peach also contains 2% or more daily value of vitamins E and K, niacin, folate, iron, choline, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, zinc and copper. Yummy on their own, they can be added to salads and desserts for a super sweet treat.

Tomato:  With phytochemicals such as lycopene, tomatoes also play a role in preventing chronic disease and deliver other health benefits. As an excellent source of Vitamin C and other antioxidants, tomatoes can help combat the formation of free radicals known to cause cancer. Some studies have shown that people who have diets rich in tomatoes may have a lower risk of certain types of cancer, especially cancers of the prostate, lung, and stomach. The fiber, potassium, vitamin C and choline content in tomatoes all support heart health. One medium tomato (approximately 123 grams) provides 22 calories, 0 grams of fat, 5 grams of carbohydrate (including 1 gram of fiber and 3 grams of sugar) and 1 gram of protein. Cooking tomatoes appears to increase the availability of key nutrients such as the caroteinoids lycopene, lutein and zeaxanthin. Stewed tomatoes provide considerably more lutein and zeaxanthin than sun dried tomatoes and raw cherry tomatoes. Alpha-lipoic acid helps the body to convert glucose into energy. Some evidence suggests that alpha-lipoic acid can aid in blood glucose control, improve vasodilation and protect against retinopathy in people with diabetes; it may even help preserve brain and nerve tissue. Lycopene is the antioxidant that gives tomatoes their rich red color. Tomatoes account for 80 percent of lycopene consumption in the average diet. Choline is an important nutrient found in tomatoes that helps with sleep, muscle movement, learning and memory. Choline also helps to maintain the structure of cellular membranes, aids in the transmission of nerve impulses, assists in the absorption of fat and reduces chronic inflammation. Try making a fresh sauce with tomatoes, garlic and some olive oil and salt. Also, this is a good time to jar or freeze fresh tomatoes so you can make sauce all year long.

 Watermelon: Are a member of the botanical family Cucurbitaceae. It is made up of 92% water. It has high levels of lycopene water and fiber. One cup of diced watermelon (152 grams) contains 43 calories, 0 grams of fat, 2 milligrams of sodium, 11 grams of carbohydrate (including 9 grams of sugar) and 1 gram of fiber. One cup of watermelon will provide 17% of vitamin A, 21% of vitamin C, 2% of iron and 1% of calcium needs for the day. Watermelon also contains thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B-6, folate, pantothenic acid,magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper, manganese, selenium, choline, lycopene and betaine. Try having it as a snack with some low fat feta crumbles for a refreshing change of pace.

These are just some of the amazing fruits and vegetables available in the summer.  I recommend walking through your local farmers markets or joining a CSA.  You never know what delicious produce is available until you get out there and try it! A diet rich in fruits and vegetables has been proven to reduce rates of obesity, lower the risk of disease and help with overall physical performance, so get out there and eat those fruits and vegetables.

Nectarine and Berry Crumble

What to eat summer 





1.5 ounces whole-wheat pastry flour (about 1/3 cup)

1.5 ounces almond flour (about 1/3 cup)

2 1/2 tablespoons sugar

3 tablespoons butter, cubed

Cooking spray


2 pounds ripe nectarines, sliced

3 tablespoons sugar

1 pint raspberries

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon grated whole nutmeg


1. Preheat oven to 400°.

2. To prepare topping, weigh or lightly spoon flours into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Place flours and 2 1/2 tablespoons sugar in a food processor; pulse until combined. Add butter; pulse until crumbly. Spread topping on a parchment-lined jelly-roll pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 400° for 12 minutes or until golden brown, stirring every 5 minutes.

3. To prepare filling, place nectarines and 3 tablespoons sugar in a large skillet over medium heat; cook 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add raspberries, vanilla, and nutmeg; cook 4 minutes or until juices thicken slightly. Remove from heat; sprinkle with toasted topping.


Recipe Time

Hands-on: 25 Minutes

Total: 25 Minutes

Nutritional Information

Calories 192

Fat 7.7 g

Satfat 3 g

Monofat 3 g

Polyfat 1.1 g

Protein 3 g

Carbohydrate 30 g

Fiber 5 g

Cholesterol 11 mg

Iron 1 mg

Sodium 39 mg

Calcium 34 mg

Sugars 19 g

Est. Added Sugars 9 g