Meat is traditionally the star of barbecue season, but who’s to say it has to stay that way? By taking advantage of summer fruits and vegetables in season, you can brighten up your plate, reduce fat, and provide meals with the vitamins and minerals your body needs to thrive.
A study published in May 2019 in The Lancet notes that one in five deaths worldwide was associated with diets that lacked fresh fruits and vegetables, seeds and nuts. The majority of those deaths were due to cardiovascular disease, the researchers found.
Grilled fruits and vegetables often make an appearance as a side dish, but making them the main event is especially easy during grilling season.
Ultimately, the goal is to add more fruits and vegetables to your plate, one way or another. Whether it’s a tasty side dish or a healthy starter, here are seven fruits and vegetables that dietitians recommend grilling this summer, and why they’re good for you.
1 Zucchini is water-dense and a good source of vitamin A.
Zucchini is a notoriously abundant summer crop. If you’ve had more than your fill of zucchini bread, try grilling this summer squash into a veggie skewer, hearty salad, or layered sandwich. They are easy to grow for the home gardener, and leftovers can be grated for cooking or freezing for later use. Any variety of summer squash is a great option to incorporate into your summer grilling.
Zucchini isn’t the most nutrient-dense fruit and vegetable, but since it’s mostly water, it’s very low in calories. Additionally, one cup of boiled zucchini offers 101 micrograms (mcg) of vitamin A, or about 11% of the daily value (DV), making it a good source of this nutrient. Zucchini is also good for hydration, very easy to find, and inexpensive.
2 Peppers provide more vitamin C than oranges.
Peppers are among summer’s most versatile vegetables (though technically they’re a fruit), thanks to the range of varieties they offer. Bell peppers of different colors provide similar nutrients but are subtly different in flavor. Peppers are an excellent source of vitamin C, and research published in June 2015 in Antioxidants (Basel) showed that the amount of vitamin C increased as peppers ripened from green to red. Still, keep in mind that cooking reduces the amount of vitamin C your body can absorb because vitamin C is heat sensitive.
Red peppers tend to be the sweetest and contain more vitamin C than orange peppers. All peppers provide more than twice the recommended daily amount of vitamin C and are also a good source of beta-carotene, potassium, folic acid and fiber. The versatility of peppers makes the recipe possibilities virtually endless.
3 Okra contains soluble fibre, which is good for the heart.
Okra is not enjoyed by everyone. But grilling the whole vegetable and being careful not to overcook it can help prevent this nutrient-dense food from becoming slimy. Eight boiled okra pods provide 13.9 milligrams (mg) of vitamin C, or 15 percent of the daily value, 2.12 g of fiber (some of which is soluble), or about 8 percent of the daily value, 30.6 mg of magnesium, which is 7% of the daily value, and 39.1 mcg of folic acid, which is about 10% of the daily value.
Soluble fiber, in particular, is great because it lowers blood cholesterol levels and the risk of heart disease. If you don’t eat whole grains or nuts regularly, you may not be getting enough magnesium, a mineral responsible for 300 enzymatic processes in the body. Grilling gives okra a smoky flavor.
4 Tomatoes provide lycopene
Tomatoes, another fruit that is often put in the same basket as vegetables, are the tastiest during the summer months. Additionally, roasting or grilling can bring out entirely new flavors in tomatoes and improve absorption of lycopene, an antioxidant found in tomatoes. A review published online in May 2018 in the journal Frontiers in Pharmacology concluded that the anti-inflammatory properties of lycopene reduced the risk of heart disease in both men and women, and that lycopene was particularly important for those at risk. high in cardiovascular disease.
5 Mushrooms give you the Umami flavor of meat, as well as fiber.
Although wild mushrooms are in season in the spring and fall, farmed mushrooms are available year-round and perfect for grilling. Research published in 2015 in the International Journal of Microbiology showed that shrooms are low-fat mushrooms that are packed with dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals, no matter which edible variety you favor. A study published in October 2018 in the journal Nutrients estimated that 30g of the three most commonly consumed mushrooms could provide up to 100% of the recommended daily dose of vitamin D, if the mushrooms were grown using UV light; this makes mushrooms one of the very few non-animal food sources of vitamin D.
Mushrooms, especially portabellas, can be a good substitute for meat, while other varieties of mushrooms can help you reduce the amount of meat you eat, which can lower your grocery bill and improve your health. You can mix mushrooms with meat, especially ground meat for burgers, by mixing 50 percent meat and 50 percent mushrooms.
A cup of grilled portabella mushrooms offers 2.66 g of fiber, or about 10 percent of the DV. This is a good transition for people who want to reduce the amount of meat they eat, as mushrooms add a lot of that umami flavor than meat. “Umami” flavor is defined as a Japanese word meaning “delicious” that is commonly used to describe foods high in protein. It is represented by the taste of monosodium glutamate.
6 Corn is a barbecue and summer staple.
Corn is a good source of dietary fibre, which is crucial for digestion and energizing carbohydrates, and it contains two antioxidants, lutein and zeaxanthin, which are linked to eye health, according to a study published in April 2017 in the Journal of Food Science Technology. An ear of corn provides 4.93 g of fiber, for 18% of the DV.
Like other summer vegetables, corn tastes best when ripe. Roll a grilled cob in herb butter before grilling.
7 Red onions provide sweetness and antioxidants
All onions are great on the grill, especially red onions, which get really sweet on the grill. Onions are a good source of antioxidants, which fight free radical imbalances.
Research has shown that although antioxidants are present in many types of onions, the amount you get depends on what part of the onion you eat. In a study published in February 2019 in the Journal of Food Science and Technology, researchers analyzed the nutrient content of six varieties of onions from the United States, New Zealand, India, Egypt and ‘Saudi Arabia. They found that the outermost layers of an onion bulb had the highest concentrations of antioxidants, which decreased in the innermost layers. A study published in September 2017 in the Journal of Hypertension found that people who ate the most onions and other alliums were 65% less likely to have heart disease than people who ate the least. In addition, they reduced their risk of high blood pressure by more than 25%. Grilled onions make a perfect accompaniment.
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