Harvest Good Health and Taste

The end of the summer may be the best season of all to make healthy changes in your life—the days are long, the weather mild, and all kinds of fruits and veggies are ripening, offering an abundance of colors, textures, flavors, and nutrients. Fresh fruit makes life sweeter, and what better time of year to get your five to nine servings of foods from plants? Not just for snacks or breakfast, fresh fruit can take center stage in main courses and help you to meet the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) recommendation. Fill two-thirds of your plate with plant foods and the remaining third with lean meat, fish, or low-fat dairy. Delicious and Nutritious Plant foods offer substances that help protect against diabetes, heart disease, and stroke, and they boost the body’s natural defenses against carcinogens. According to AICR, cancer rates could drop as much as 20 percent if we ate five or more helpings of fruits and vegetables every day. Red fruits like watermelon contain lycopene to protect against prostate and possibly breast cancer. Cryptoxanthin (another phytochemical plentiful in mangos, oranges, papayas, and tangerines) has been linked to reduced risk of cervical cancer. Honeydew melon is a good source of vitamin C, as is cantaloupe, which also offers carotenes that the body converts to vitamin A. Fruit provides dietary fiber to fill you up and help keep you slender, along with natural sugars to satisfy the sweetest sweet tooth. What more could we want? Finally, don’t forget the grill. Grilling fruit causes the natural sugars to caramelize on the outside, while the flesh inside softens to release sweet juices. You can grill any firm, ripe fruit such as bananas, peaches, plums, and pineapple. Cook them at the lower heat along the edge of the grill, and brush with a little canola oil and spices like cinnamon or cardamom for added flavor. Enjoy!