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More on Nutritionists Share Their Favorite Summer Fruits and Vegetables

Nutritionists Share Their Favorite Summer Fruits and Vegetables

New York (Aug 2, 2011)

(This is part one of a two-part series. Part two is available here.)

Avocados and Beets: Delicious, Healthy, and With Many Ways to Serve Them

From Matthew Swader, R.D. -

In the summer, I eat a lot of avocados. Botanically, avocados are technically a fruit, but many people think of them as more of a vegetable. Avocados can be used in every meal. For breakfast I eat avocados with eggs or smoked salmon, and for lunch I add sliced avocados to all kinds of sandwiches. Another option is dipping vegetables in guacamole that can be made by combining avocados with garlic, onion, cilantro, and lemon juice (see recipe below).

Matthew Swader, R.D.
Matthew Swader, R.D.

Avocados are high in a number of key nutrients including good fats (monounsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids), vitamin K, folate, vitamin C, vitamin B6, potassium, riboflavin, niacin, and fiber. Avocados are rich in carotenoids, which are antioxidants that are believed to enhance the immune system and prevent a number of diseases including some cancers, macular eye diseases, and cardiovascular disease. Avocados also increase the absorption of carotenoids in spinach, carrots, and tomatoes because the fat in avocados is needed for the body to absorb carotenoids.

Beets are my favorite vegetable. They can be eaten in a salad or used as a soup base. I also like to put thinly sliced beets on a ciabatta or flat bread with goat cheese and a drizzle of basil-infused olive oil. Among the many nutrients in beets are vitamin C, folate, manganese, potassium, and dietary fiber. Beets contain antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties as well as betalains, which are phytonutrients that help detoxify the liver. Also, studies have shown that beets contain a specialized fiber that is beneficial for the cardiovascular system and helps prevent colon cancer.

Put on gloves and use a plastic or glass cutting board to avoid staining. It also helps to leave one end of the beet unpeeled so that you can hold this side when cutting or slicing the beet.

Ingredients:
2-3 ripe avocados
splash of vinegar (to keep it from turning brown)
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
1 small clove of garlic minced
½ of a red onion
2 tablespoons of chopped cilantro
½ teaspoon of salt

Directions: Mince the onion and garlic and let them sit in the lemon juice and vinegar for ∼ 10 min. Mash avocados well in a large bowl with a fork or using a mortar and pestle, and stir in the other ingredients.

Matthew Swader, R.D. is a Dietician at NewYork-Presbyterian/The Allen Hospital.

Good Reasons to Eat Blueberries, Peaches, Carrots, and Spinach

From Adee Rasabi, R.D., C.D.N., C.D.E., C.S.G. -

All fruits and vegetables have a variety of vitamins and minerals to benefit your health. They are virtually fat free and low in calories, sodium, and cholesterol. My favorite fruit is blueberries. Blueberries are a very good source of Vitamin C. They also have fiber and are low in calories with 3 grams of dietary fiber and 60 calories in a ¾ cup serving.

Adee Rasabi, R.D., C.D.N., C.D.E., C.S.G.
Adee Rasabi, R.D., C.D.N.,
C.D.E., C.S.G.

I like to eat blueberries in my morning oatmeal. I use the rolled oats rather than instant oatmeal for whole grains and added fiber. I cook the oats in a calcium-rich source such as skim milk, almond milk, or soy milk. Then, I add a handful of fresh blueberries. I also like to put blueberries into my spinach salad along with other berries and use balsamic vinegar as dressing. Another idea is to add blueberries to a fruit parfait. I layer blueberries with nonfat Greek yogurt, which has more protein than other yogurts, and a high fiber cereal such as bran flakes.

Peaches are another favorite fruit of mine. As with all fruits and vegetables, peaches are a good source of fiber especially when you eat them with the skin on. Peaches contain vitamin C, potassium, and niacin. One way that I like to eat peaches is to make a peach crisp (see recipe from the American Institute for Cancer Research) in which you cook sliced peaches in a baking tray covered with rolled oats and a little bit of brown sugar.

Carrots are a favorite vegetable of mine and are a very good source of Vitamin A. Carrots are filled with fiber and low in calories with a half cup of cooked carrots or a cup of fresh carrots having only 25 calories. For a quick easy snack, I like to carry baby carrots and to-go packages of hummus. Or, for another great energizing afternoon snack, you could dip carrots in a Greek yogurt dip, which can be made by adding chives, cilantro, garlic, and paprika to plain yogurt.

I also love spinach in the summer, which is high in iron, vitamin K, and magnesium. It is low in calories with only 7 calories in 1 cup of raw spinach. In addition to using as a salad base, spinach is great for adding into omelets to add fiber. I make egg white omelets with spinach and low fat cheese. You can also add in tomatoes, onions, peppers, or whatever other vegetables you like. To make a bigger meal, I put the egg in a whole wheat wrap or whole wheat pita.

Just a note on why the vitamins and minerals in fruits and vegetables mentioned above are important:

  • Fiber: decreases the risk for heart disease and regulate blood sugar levels
  • Iron: helps deliver oxygen to all cells
  • Magnesium: helps maintain normal muscle and nerve function, builds and strengthens bones and keeps your blood circulating smoothly
  • Calcium: builds strong bones and teeth
  • Potassium: essential for a regular heartbeat
  • Vitamin A: needed for healthy skin, hair, and vision
  • Vitamin K: needed for blood clotting
  • Vitamin C: needed for healthy gums and teeth

Adee Rasabi, R.D., C.D.N., C.D.E., C.S.G. is a Senior Dietician at the Ambulatory Care Network at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center.

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