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'Tis the season to savor fruit's fresh, healthy goodness

Only when I'm washing a basket of ripe strawberries or slicing into a juicy watermelon do I declare it officially summer. It's time for blueberry pancakes and muffins, strawberry shortcake, exotic, colorful salads, and waffles with everything from peaches to berries piled high. If there's ever a time when we are likely to eat our recommended servings of fruit, this is it!

Along with fabulous flavor, summer fruits serve up a potpourri of great nutrition. Most of summer's fruits are bursting with antioxidants and phytochemicals (plant chemicals, many of which are thought to have a protective effect against cancer), as well as vitamins, minerals, and fiber. A rule of thumb for fruits and vegetables is, in general, the brighter the color, the more nutrients. So you can imagine how summer fruits such as blueberries, red grapes, strawberries, mangos, and boysenberries score on the nutrition index.

Here are 11 popular fruits of summer and their nutritional attributes.

Apricots: Rich in the phytochemical beta-carotene, a cup of apricot halves has 3 grams of fiber, half of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for vitamin A, 26% of the RDA for vitamin C, and 17% for vitamin E.

Berries: 1 cup of blueberries has 4 grams of fiber, 32% of the RDA for vitamin C, and 18% of the RDA for vitamin E. A cup of boysenberries has 6.3 grams of fiber, 27% of the RDA for folic acid, 50% of the RDA for vitamin C, 13% of the RDA for vitamin E, and 10% of the RDA for magnesium. A cup of raspberries: 5 grams of fiber, 18% of the RDA for folic acid, and 51% of the RDA for vitamin C. Raspberries also have the phytochemical ellagic acid.

Cantaloupe: 1 cup of cubed cantaloupe contains 64% of the RDA for vitamin A, 12% of the RDA for vitamin B-6, 15% for folic acid, and 113% for vitamin C. Cantaloupe also has phytochemicals such as alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, flavonoids, coumarins, and phenolic acids.

Cherries: 1 cup has 2.5 grams of fiber and 17% of the RDA for vitamin C.

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