While the old adage may say that an apple a day keeps the doctor away, a diverse diet of fruits and vegetables is usually a better way to receive the proper balance of nutrients needed for good health. Produce can be enjoyed year-round thanks to frozen and canned goods, however eating these items soon after harvest often amplifies their nutritional benefits (and taste).
Farmer's markets, roadside stands and community gardens are just a few of the places seniors can access fresh crops, and websites such as pickyourown.org can help you determine what items are currently in season. Here are five of the seasonal produce items Colorado seniors can find during the summer.
Residents in Grand Junction know that summertime means the Palisade peach harvest season and festival are just around the corner. These juicy treats have been enjoyed picked and eaten straight from the tree or transformed into desserts, jams and family recipes for over a hundred years. A rich source of potassium, vitamin C and vitamin A, peaches are also high in disease-fighting antioxidants. The fresher and riper the peach, the more packed it is with these beneficial nutrients.
Another favorite seasonal sweet found in farmer's markets and stores around Colorado is the famous Rocky Ford watermelons, cantaloupes and honeydews. These water-dense fruits are a tasty way to stay hydrated, and they all possess a wide variety of vitamins and minerals that boost overall wellness. Honeydews can help increase bone strength due to their levels of folate, vitamin K, magnesium and calcium. The orange flesh of cantaloupes contains a large quantity of beta carotene, which supports eye and immune system health, and the fiber content of watermelons helps promote regularity and a healthy digestive track.
Colorado-grown sweet corn is comprised of yellow, white and bicolored varieties that are shipped and sold around the nation, but being able to buy it locally means seniors at Grand Villa can consume it when the flavor and nutrients are at their peak. Low in fat and calories, corn is high in fiber, which can help individuals regulate weight by making meals more filling and satisfying. It's also a good source of the vitamins A and C, and it promotes the presence of good bacteria in the digestive system.
The deep red color in beets is caused by antioxidants called betalians. These pigments offer the chronic disease fighting benefits of other antioxidants, and they also act as anti-inflammatory agents. By eating both the green tops and the beet root, seniors can improve their daily intake of iron, manganese, potassium, folate and folic acid. These valuable additions can help ward off anemia and heart disease.
The dry air and cool nighttime temperatures associated with a typical Colorado summer can make it difficult to grow tomatoes, however, this doesn't stop an abundance of the crop from reaching local roadside stands and farmer's markets. High in vitamin A and vitamin C, tomatoes are perhaps best known for their large quantities of lycopene, an antioxidant that clinical studies have proven may help prevent heart disease and certain types of cancer.