Berries, melons, plums, grapes, mangoes..summer brings fresh aromatic fruits into our lives. They're delicious, beautiful, high in fiber, low in fat and vitamin rich. Summer fruits can boost immunity, reduce inflammation, and protect our cells. Some aid digestion. Still others are said to have anti aging properties and to help with disease prevention. Bottom line? Indulge in the sweet fruits of summer-- they're good for body and soul.

Berries are health stars. They get their bright colors from a compound called anthocyanin. When ingested anthocyanins may protect us from cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and vision loss. Three or more servings of either blueberries or strawberries each week helps women cut their risk of heart attack by 1/3 according to a study cited by the Cleveland Heart Lab. Many studies now demonstrate compelling evidence that berries also play a role in combating cancer and, with twice the antioxidant power of Vitamin C, they have the ability to aid us in slowing cognitive decline as well as boosting learning ability and memory. Berries rate high in polyphenols too. They work to reduce cell damage and promote cell repair.  Check out Today's Dietician for an excellent discussion on the health values packed into each berry type.

Looking for relief from arthritis and inflammation? The Arthritis Foundation blog suggests strawberries for their high vitamin C, anthocyanin values and other phytonutrients. When strawberry season passes try apricots, watermelon, tart cherry, kiwi fruit, peaches, mangoes, and cantaloupe. Keep up fruit therapy all year with frozen strawberries, peaches, and mangoes. This trio provides protection for conditions ranging from cancer or heart disease to age related macular degeneration.

Watermelon, Cantaloupe and the ever widening selection of melons: charantais, butterscotch, leopard, kiss, and lemondrop are all remarkably high in water content. The old standards---honeydew, watermelon and cantaloupe--- lead the way at almost 90% water. Hydration is fundamental to health. So if you have trouble hydrating well using only liquids try cutting squares of melon to enjoy throughout the summer day.  By the age of 70 our water balance is significantly disrupted and, as physiology changes, we begin to lose total water volume in our system so it's more important to take in adequate liquid to avoid the consequences of dehydration. Melons are also high in vitamins A, B, C and their combination of fiber and water helps to tone digestion. Individual melons have special benefits. Watermelon, for instance, has more lycopene than tomatoes so is a strong aid to prevent prostate cancer. Get Healthy Life says melons maintain healthy skin, prevent heart disease, and can guard against kidney disease.

Fruits highest in potassium protect against heart disease and kidney stones but also help guard against bone loss as we age. Think apricots, peaches, kiwi, bananas and dried figs. Fruits high in folic acid are known to---dare I say--stave off Alzheimers and cancers. Turn to papaya, banana, raspberries, oranges, and strawberries. Hoping to slow the aging process? Create your fruit salad with: kiwi, berries, watermelon and bananas and top it off with pomegranate dressing.  As we head into fall boosting immunity will help with winter colds and flu. Kiwi, strawberry, blueberry and papaya are the fruits to use. For the nutrient background on almost every fruit try Nutrition and You.

If you haven't been eating a lot of raw fruit introduce it slowly to your system. Too much too soon can send your system into shock or distress. If you've had trouble eating raw fruits in the past because of digestive concerns such as diverticulitis you may need to stay away from most raw or high fiber fruits. If you have dysphagia many raw fruits are off your list. Cooking fruit may help. Try something as simple as simmering the fruit in a mix of sugar and water for a few minutes or tackle a fruit soup or fruit muffin. Summer fruit is delicious and flexible. Hopefully you'll find a preparation method that enables you to enjoy their sweet nutrients. 

Summer Fruits provide protection from aging, disease, bone or vision loss, inflammation and dehydration. They're delicious and plentiful through August. Berries are the nutrition stars and fortunately they're available year round in frozen foods. Melons help us fight dehydrating heat and kiwis arm against winter colds. Dive into summer's bounty and reap the treasure of health and wellness.