Summer Fruits for Seniors
With Summer upon us, a time of plenty of sunshine and higher temperatures, look for farmers’ markets and grocery stores to be overflowing with plenty of fresh, ripe, juicy seasonal fruits. While sampling just about any example of nature’s bounty is sure to be a mouth-watering explosion of flavors and aromas, some of the fruits in season are of special interest to seniors, either due to overall healthiness, or the inclusion of a nutrient especially useful for older adults. This list below will outline those choices, along with some suggestions on how to enjoy them.
- Apples: The adage about an apple a day keeping doctors away may not necessarily be completely factual, but no one can deny that an apple is loaded with health benefits. A single apple can contain almost as much as 20% of your daily fiber, a nutrient vital for digestion and lowering levels of bad cholesterol. This fruit can be enjoyed a number of ways, as-is, or perhaps diced and included in a bright, summer salad, or even mashed or baked for those with chewing difficulties.
- Berries: Blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, and more, perhaps no other fruit is more synonymous with the Summer season than a fresh, sweet berry, swollen with juices. Fortunately for everyone as well, berries are not only delicious, but also one of the healthiest foods you can eat! The vibrant colors of berries come from an antioxidant called anthocynanin, which can help eliminate free radicals from your body and prevent cellular damage. Berries are also famous for their versatility, able to be enjoyed on their own, as a topping for yogurt or ice cream, included in a smoothie, or, my favorite, baked into a tart or a cobbler. Few smells and tastes can bring someone back to their childhood like a freshly baked berry treat.
- Stone fruits: Peaches, plums, nectarines, apricots, cherries, pluots, and more, stone fruits, so-named because of the pit contained within, are another treat that goes hand in hand with the summer months. Peaches, nectarines, and apricots get their rich, golden orange hue from a nutrient called carotene. Carotene is used in the body to help the health of the tissues of the eyes, and along with the high amounts of vitamin C, can increase the body’s production of collagen, keeping skin and tissues all throughout the body healthy. Cherries are also rich in melatonin, a hormone that helps our bodies regulate sleep. Eating cherries throughout the day, particularly in the evening, can help ensure a night of restful, restorative sleep.
- Melons: While watermelons are perhaps one of the official mascots of summer, cantaloupe, honeydew, and other more exotic varieties like casaba or crenshaw are available too. Melons are high in vitamin K, a nutrient critical for the health of your bones and teeth, something very helpful for older adults. Watermelons, with their juicy red flesh, not only help you stay hydrated in the hot summer days, but the red color comes from their richness in lycopene, an antioxidant that can reduce cancer risks, lower bad cholesterol, and help reduce neuropathic pain.