7 Superfoods for Immunity and Weight Loss in Season Now, According to RDs
Spring has sprung. And it’s time to load up on all the incredible superfoods in season now. But before you know it, summer will be here, and there will be a whole new host of seasonal foods to dig into for antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins galore. Below, nutritionists share their top picks for summer foods to support your immunity, promote weight loss, and flood your body with nutrients necessary for optimal health.
Whether you’re using blueberries to top your oatmeal or grab by the handful between meetings, these tiny yet mighty fruits are loaded with good-for-you qualities. “Blueberries are nutrient-dense, meaning they are low in calories and high in nutrients,” says Trista K. Best, MPH, RD, LDN, at Balance One. “Just one cup of blueberries contains four grams of fiber and almost 25 percent of the RDI for vitamin C. This is good news for many reasons,” she adds, explaining that the high fiber content helps remove toxins from the body and keeps the bowels regular, both of which reduce inflammation and weight.
“It likely goes without saying that the vitamin C content is great for immune health, but also acts as an antioxidant to remove toxins from the body,” she continues. “This toxin removal benefits overall health by preventing cellular damage that leads to chronic diseases like cancer and obesity.” For more on blueberries, check out this article on why they’re the healthiest food you can eat.
2. Red Bell Peppers
“Bell peppers are packed full of nutrients that benefit the body in significant ways, yet most of the public is unaware of how healthy they actually are,” offers Best. ”Bell peppers’ most valuable nutrient is vitamin C, which is denatured in the cooking process making it best to consume them raw,” she says.
Perhaps surprisingly, red bell peppers are higher in vitamin C than oranges, as Best notes, and a cup of red bell pepper has 118 milligrams of vitamin C while a cup of oranges has just 96 milligrams of vitamin C. “This is an important nutrient for immune support benefits, but also improves the absorption of iron,” she adds. Speaking of which, here’s how to get enough iron following a plant-based diet.
“Blackberries are such a wonderful summer food, and they boast fiber which helps you feel fuller for longer—which can help you with weight loss,” says Amy Gorin, MS, RDN, a plant-based registered dietitian and owner of Plant-Based Eats in Stamford, CT. “And research shows that they may help your LDL ‘bad’ cholesterol levels. In a review study in Scientific Reports, people regularly eating berries had lower LDL cholesterol levels, versus people who were not regularly eating berries.”
We love adding a handful of blackberries to a summer salad for a sour-sweet note. Or, try having them atop your next bowl of coconut yogurt with a sprinkle of cinnamon or turmeric for an extra hit of anti-inflammatory wonder. Got leftover blackberries on the brink of spoiling? Whip up this blackberry and thyme vegan ice cream.
4. Iced Coffee
“What says summer more than iced coffee? Coffee is such a low-calorie beverage—it’s only a handful of calories per cup. And it tastes delicious iced! It may also offer weight-loss benefits. In one small study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, people drinking four cups of caffeinated coffee daily saw an almost four percent decrease in body fat,” shares Gorin. “Now, I wouldn’t recommend that you drink four cups daily—but from this data, we could assume that drinking a smaller amount of coffee may offer a smaller weight-loss benefit.”
Worth noting: Drink it black, or add your favorite unsweetened plant-based milk to avoid adding sugar or artificial sweeteners into your daily routine.
5. Dandelion Greens
Load up on this nutrient-dense green and your body will thank you. “I love eating dandelion greens anytime, but especially enjoy them in the summertime I use them in many salad combinations, as well as in green juice,” offers holistic nutritionist Elissa Goodman, IHN. “They are considered to be anti-inflammatory as well antiviral and they are loaded with vitamins and minerals to help boost your immunity. You can use dandelion as a gentle laxative and soothe stomach discomfort. It is also a high-fiber food which promotes digestive health,” she adds.
6. Coconut Water Kefir
Not an iced coffee person? It’s hard to do better than a refreshing helping of this fermented coconut water beverage as the temperature soars. “I incorporate fermented foods into my meals daily, as they contain probiotics that can benefit your digestion, immune system, heart, and help you maintain a slim waistline,” says Goodman. “My favorite way to get those beneficial bacteria is through coconut,” she continues, noting that she drinks coconut water kefir in the mornings, or in the afternoons when she’s craving something sweet. “It totally takes the edge off a sugar craving,” she adds.
This vegetable, ahem, fruit is considered a superfood due to its vitamin C and potassium content, along with other incredible vitamins and nutrients, says Best. “Vitamin C and potassium are great for immune support and overall health. Tomatoes’ antioxidants include alpha-lipoic acid, lycopene, choline, folic acid, beta-carotene, and lutein,” she comments. “These compounds work in the body to help prevent and reduce free radical damage that can lead to oxidative stress and chronic conditions,” she explains, sharing that cooking tomatoes has been shown to increase the bioavailability of these nutrients and plant compounds.
Of course, in the summer, there’s nothing like a fresh, juicy tomato, but after you’ve had your slices on lunch sandwiches or diced ‘em up into salsa, consider sautéing a few into a pasta sauce or serving cooked tomatoes and other seasonal veggies over your favorite rice and beans dish.