Secret Summer Diet Foods
Slim down by enjoying these low-calorie fruits of summer.
The sun is shining, temperatures are rising. Summer is the time to shed
layers of clothes, as well as some pounds. You could opt for a stringent diet
regime, but what about simply enjoying all the wonderful foods the season
brings? You'll still slim down, and do wonders for your health.
It's a natural trend to eat lighter during the summer, and you can easily do
so without feeling deprived. If you follow the U.S. government's 2005 dietary
guidelines of four-and-a-half cups of fruits and vegetables and three servings
of fat-free or low-fat dairy each day, you'll be getting plenty of naturally
low-cal foods that are high in fiber, calcium, and important nutrients.
"Fiber helps in weight control because it promotes a feeling of
satisfaction or satiety," explains Registered Dietitian Cheryl Orlansky, of
the Computer Science Corporation. "High-fiber foods, eaten consistently,
prevent that rebound effect of feeling full one minute and looking for
something else to eat the next. It also helps modulate blood sugars by slowing
down the digestion of sugars to prevent a quick surge into the
Much of summer's bounty has extra nutritional benefits you may not be aware
of. Fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants and other phytonutrients that
may slow aging, protect against cancer and stroke, improve blood pressure, and
keep your heart healthy. And just about all are low-calorie, so your waistline
stays in check, another big health benefit.
Ready to slim down with summer foods? Start your summer "diet" with
Tomatoes and Peppers for Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and Lycopene
These powerhouses of nutrition are members of the fruit family, though
thought of mostly as vegetables. Tomatoes and bell peppers of all colors
deliver large amounts of vitamins A and C. A medium tomato, for example, is low
in carbohydrates and has only has 35 calories but gives you 40% of the vitamin
C and 20% of the vitamin A you need for the day.
Tomatoes have other benefits, too. "Consuming a diet rich in tomatoes
has been shown to decrease the risk of prostate and other digestive tract
cancer," says Emily Abercrombie, RD, LD, a clinical nutritionist at
Atlanta's Emory Hospitals. This is because tomatoes and processed tomato
products have high levels of a nutrient called lycopene, a powerful antioxidant
that gives some fruits and vegetables their color.
Lycopene may prevent as well as treat several types of cancer. Research
suggests it also may help prevent the LDL "bad" cholesterol in the
bloodstream from being converted to oxidized LDL that can form plaques in
arteries and increase the risk of heart attacks.
Peppers have antioxidants too, such as beta carotene, which can help boost
the immune system and prevent the cell damage that comes from free radicals, a
natural byproduct of our bodies' normal functioning. Studies show damaged cells
can lead to a number of diseases, such as cancer and heart disease.