Vitamin-Packed Foods

This season, get your vitamins the old-fashioned way -- with fruits and vegetables at the peak of summer freshness.

Fruits and vegetables picked at peak summer ripeness deliver the most flavor and texture. When you pair this produce with other healthy foods like fresh eggs, whole grains, savory cheeses, and lean meats -- plus a good dose of sunshine -- you're sure to get all the nutrients you need.

Completely unprocessed and unrefined, whole fruits and vegetables offer vitamins in a form your body uses best. In fact, no supplement manufacturer has been able to replicate the way nature's bounty preserves and delivers these nutrients.

"Plants are the world's best chemists," says Amy Howell, a nutrition researcher at Rutgers University, who explains that plant cells offer the perfect protective environment for vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals like flavonoids. This safe haven helps them stay potent and effective so that you get a full spectrum of healthy benefits.

There's another perk, too: With whole foods, you never have to worry about getting too much of a certain vitamin, or question whether one nutrient will cancel another one out. Just choose a variety of colors and let nature do the balancing act for you.

Vitamin A
It plays an important role in our ability to guard against colds and flus -- and possibly helps to prevent cancer. A also maintains your respiratory, intestinal, and urinary tracts, and helps the skin and mucous membranes function as barriers to keep nasty viruses and bacteria from entering your body. It's also crucial for promoting healthy eyesight. Animal sources such as eggs provide the vitamin as is; fruits and veggies come bearing beta-carotene as well as other carotenoids your body naturally converts to A.

Find It In:
Apricots, cantaloupe, carrots, cheese, collards, eggs, kale, mangoes, milk, sweet potatoes, spinach, and Swiss chard.

Vitamin B
The B vitamins, a chemically related family of nutrients that work as a team, include thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, B6, biotin, folate, and B12. Each one helps your body transform food to energy. Some replace old, worn-out cells with fresh new ones, while others keep nerve and brain cells in working order. Folate protects against certain birth defects (for pregnant women) and, together with B6 and B12, may guard against heart disease by reducing levels of homocysteine in your blood.

Find It In:
Asparagus, avocados, beans, corn, green beans, leafy greens (like dandelion and collards), onions, peas, pork, whole wheat, and yogurt

Vitamin C
You probably know the benefits of vitamin C when it comes to preventing and mitigating the severity of colds. But did you know that C is the ultimate multitasker? A powerful antioxidant, it counters the effects of free radicals that, left unchecked, can lead to heart disease, cancer, arthritis, and neurological problems.

Find It In:
Bell peppers, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cherries, cranberries, kiwi, mangoes, onions, and oranges

Vitamin D
This vitamin has made increasing headlines in recent years, mostly because it helps the body absorb calcium -- and therefore prevents osteoporosis. In addition to keeping bones and teeth strong, D also regulates cell growth, which may prevent mutations that can lead to disease. Only a handful of common foods are naturally high in vitamin D; our bodies' main source is sunlight. To help prevent deficiencies, this nutrient is added to many foods, such as dairy products.

Find It In:
Eggs, fortified milk, salmon, sardines, and tuna

Vitamin E
If you're looking to defend against two of America's biggest killers -- heart attack and stroke -- fill up on E. This vitamin can help limit the production of harmful free radicals. These molecules can compromise LDL cholesterol, which otherwise can build up in the arteries and restrict blood flow. E also plays a role in activating vitamin K.

Find It In:
Almonds, avocados, dandelion greens, sunflower seeds, kiwi, leafy greens, mangoes, and tomato puree

Vitamin K
Even a small wound or cut could spell major trouble without vitamin K, which stops bleeding by enabling blood to clot. K also helps strengthen bones and increase bone density. Even though your body can manufacture this vitamin on its own (from bacteria in your intestines), it's still important to obtain it from food sources.

Find It In:
Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, lettuce, spinach, Swiss chard, and watercress

Need some culinary inspiration? Our fresh seasonal menu is bursting with flavor -- and it covers all the nutritional bases, too.

Spinach and Herb Omelet

Marinated Vegetable Salad

Jerk Pork Tenderloin with Swiss Chard
Spicy Vegetable Saute

Warm Stone Fruit Salad

Read More


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