avocado on plate

Renew your resolution to eat better with fresh fruits and vegetables

Summer is a great time to renew your resolution to eat more healthy foods. Combined in healthy menus, summertime foods can help give you more than just one season of heart health.


Dietitians Julia Zumpano, RD, LD and  Kate Patton, MEd, RD, CSSD, LD, both of Cleveland Clinic’s Section of Preventive Cardiology & Rehabilitation, put together a list of their five summertime heart-healthy food favorites, including tips on how to enjoy them.

1. Avocados

A mashed avocado provides a healthy alternative to mayonnaise or butter. A 1/4-cup serving of pureed avocado provides 6 grams of heart-healthy monounsaturated fat and 90 calories.

Serving tips: Use mashed avocado as a dip or a spread on sandwiches, slip slices into wraps or burritos, or add chunks to salads. To prevent browning, add a little lemon juice.


2. Tomatoes

Enjoy summer’s kaleidoscopic tomato harvest. There are many varieties and hues of tomatoes in season in the Midwest from July to October. Most tomatoes are a good source of lycopene, an antioxidant that helps protect cells from damage and also may help lower bad cholesterol).

3. Salmon

Wild-caught salmon is a heart-healthy choice that’s perfect for summertime grilling. Eating 4 ounces of wild-caught salmon twice a week provides you with an adequate intake of essential omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids can help lower risk of sudden cardiac death, reduce blood clot formation, inhibit growth of plaque along artery walls and decrease triglycerides.

Cooking tips: Try grilling your salmon for that summertime vibe. Lightly oil or spray the grill and keep the skin on the fillets to prevent the salmon from sticking. Grill over medium heat.

4. Dark leafy greens

These nutritional powerhouses can go way beyond salads. Choose from red or green leaf lettuce, romaine, kale, collards, turnip greens, Swiss chard, spinach and red or green cabbage. Each selection is nutrient-dense and full of fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. An added plus: They are all low in calories. One cup of raw spinach has just 7 calories. One cup of raw, shredded red cabbage has 22 calories.

Serving tips: Eat your greens raw or cooked, or add them to cold pasta or bean salads. They also blend well in smoothies. For a carb-free sandwich, use a large leaf as a wrap instead of bread.

5. Fresh fruit

Seasonal, local fresh fruit gives you the most nutrient-rich bang for your buck. Farmers markets sell seasonal local fruit — melons, berries, peaches, pears, plums, cherries – at the peak of flavor and nutrients. Fruit-rich diets can help lower your blood pressure and the water in fresh fruits keeps you hydrated on hot summer days.