Summer is almost here! With delightful long days, and warm weather, it is a season of excitement. This includes an amazing variety of delectable, nutritious vegetables that are fantastic for fueling your summer days.

Why are certain vegetables considered “summer vegetables”? These vegetables require warm weather and soils, and they also withstand high heat. Conversely, they do not respond well to cold temperatures or frost. While many grocery stores now offer vegetables out of season, these are less favorable for multiple reasons.

Unseasonal vegetables are often manipulated by artificial and unnatural means to ensure they reach maturity. Additionally, they are often shipped long distances, losing flavor and nutritional density in the process.

Fear not! If you buy local, seasonal vegetables, you will guarantee a delicious, nutritious experience. While seasons may vary slightly depending on your location, the listed months are a good guideline.

Now that we know the importance of seasonality, what vegetables should you choose? Many offer a variety of nutritional benefits and are fantastic additions to many summer dishes. Here are just a few of our summer favorites.

Beets (May to October). A resilient vegetable, beets are one of the few hearty vegetables that can both survive frost and grow in summer. These nourishing veggies boast fiber and folate, the latter of which is known to help prevent heart disease. Good for a multitude of dishes, these are even good in juices and smoothies. Add these to your summer lineup for a unique and abundantly healthy vegetable!

Cucumbers (May to September). A great, refreshing treat on a hot day, cucumbers are an enjoyable snack or addition to a salad. While they do not have abundant nutrients due to consisting of mostly water, they are fantastic for hydration. Furthermore, they are low in fat, carbohydrates, and calories, making them a guiltless snack. Enjoy these healthy bites with a small dash of salt and pepper for flavor.

Tomatoes (July to October). Tomatoes are known for their versatility, and they are delicious alone or in a dish. They are also rich in many nutrients, such as vitamins A and C, potassium, and lycopene. Tomatoes are a prominent source of lycopene in our diet; research has shown this may reduce the risk of digestive and pancreatic cancers. Try tomatoes in your next salad or sandwich!

Carrots (July to October). Known for both crunch and color, carrots make a distinctive addition to many recipes. They are high in vitamins A and C; furthermore, they are low in calories and free of cholesterol and fat. With their many uses, pleasing taste, and vivid colors, carrots are a staple for summer nutrition.

Zucchini (July to October). Zucchini, a variant of summer squash, is another great addition to the diet with its immense versatility. Another great source of vitamin C, zucchini also has dietary fiber. This is an important and necessary component of digestive health.  Try adding zucchini to your snacks or meals for an added nutritional boost.

Summer vegetables are one of the simple, seasonal pleasures that pack plenty of added benefits. They will help keep you fueled and healthy for all the enjoyment that summer will undoubtedly bring.