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Tips to eat more summertime produce

Summer is best enjoyed by the pool or beach with a bottle of sunscreen, a good book and fresh fruit. Unfortunately, summer only lasts a few short months so it’s important to know how you can properly take advantage of the season’s produce.

Pamela Voelkers, integrative health coach and dietitian at Aurora Integrative Medicine in Milwaukee, Wis., shares the benefits of eating produce when it’s in season.

“Produce that is fully ripened before harvest is more flavorful and is higher in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants,” says Voelkers. “Eating seasonally allows us to diversify our diets — taking in different nutrients while continually exciting our palettes.”

Additionally, Voelkers notes that seasonal produce may be more plentiful and can therefore be less expensive.

So, what produce is best to buy in the summer? Berries such as strawberries, blueberries, gooseberries and raspberries are particularly in season at this time of year. Other seasonal fruits include cherries and currants. Vegetables that are in season include cucumbers, lettuce, cabbage, cauliflower, zucchini, mushrooms and peppers.

Where can you find summer produce? Oftentimes, a grocery store will sell locally grown produce, or, better yet, you can visit a local farmer’s market. Consuming locally grown, seasonal produce reduces the need for transportation. If you’re feeling ambitious, you can even plant your own in containers, raised beds, vast garden beds or even amongst your flower beds.

Before enjoying produce, it is important to wash fruits and vegetables before cutting or consuming — even if you plan to peel it.

“Use a dedicated scrub brush on firm produce such as melons, carrots and potatoes,” says  Voelkers. “Delicate produce like leafy greens and berries should be gently rinsed in a colander just prior to consuming. Then, air dry or gently pat dry.”

Before storing your produce it’s important to consider the effects fruit has on one another.

“Several fruits release ethylene gas while they ripen: apples, avocados, bananas, peaches, pears and tomatoes,” says Voelkers. “These should be stored away from produce that is sensitive to ethylene gas like berries, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, carrots, cucumber and leafy greens.”

This article originally appeared on health enews.

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