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In Season: 6 Summer Picks For Your Health

First Posted: 06/11/11 12:24 PM ET   Updated: 08/11/11 06:12 AM ET

The sun is blazing and farmers markets are popping up everywhere. Yes, it seems summer has arrived. Lucky for us -- and our bodies -- the early summer season also brings with it a fresh crop of nutrient-rich superfoods.

During the spring and summer it is easier than ever to get a hold of fresh produce. With all of the choices out there, we've narrowed down a list of six of the most delicious -- and best for you -- seasonal picks. Whether you're making yourself a packed lunch for work, hosting a dinner party on your deck or having a picnic, these foods can be easily added into your meals alongside year-round staples.

Baby Beets
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Although beets are available year-round, young beets are particularly fresh during the spring months. Varietals can be found in array of brilliant colors -- yellow and orange in addition to the traditional deep red. Besides being low-calorie and virtually fat-free, beets are incredibly nutrient-rich. They are a good source of Vitamin C, potassium (which has been shown to reduce blood pressure), manganese and folate, and the vegetable's rich color comes from beta-carotene, which is a major source of Vitamin A.

How to Buy and Eat
Registered dietitian and author of "American Dietetic Association Complete Food and Nutrition Guide," Roberta Larson Duyff, counts baby beets as one of her favorite healthy choices for spring. She urges consumers to use the beet's greens and stalks, as well as the beet itself. Duyff recommends buying beets at a local market or Whole Foods and roasting them in the oven with a bit of olive oil, or including them raw in a salad.

"When you get beets, don't cut off the tops and throw away the greens," she says. "Slice them and toss them into your salad, or stir-fry them the way that you would spinach."
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This Superfood
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The Bottom Line

Go forth, eat superfoods and prosper. But, remember that the best way to ensure that you get the greatest health benefits from these foods is to include them in a balanced diet -- just take a cue from MyPlate. No one food is a shortcut to a healthy lifestyle.

Says Duyff, "It's really the whole diet that is super." And when the foods you are buying come from a local source, have been picked recently and are integrated into a home-cooked meal, nothing is more "super" than that.

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