Chrome 2001
Aetna Intelihealth InteliHealth Aetna Intelihealth Aetna Intelihealth
. .
Chrome 2001
Chrome 2001

Harvard Commentaries
Harvard Commentaries
Reviewed by the Faculty of Harvard Medical School

Food for Thought Food for Thought

Super Charge Your Summer Meals

July 10, 2013


By Stacy Kennedy, M.P.H., R.D., C.S.O., L.D.N.
Brigham and Women's Hospital

Summer is here and fresh produce is abundant! The benefits of eating more plant-based foods are impressive:

  • A reduced risk of certain cancers, heart disease and diabetes
  • An aid to weight management
  • Fewer aches and pains
  • Better immunity
  • Improved mental abilities

Do you need some ideas for the delicious produce from your local farmers market? Could use a boost in your fruit and veggie intake? Look no further. Fruits and vegetables are the perfect ingredients for cool, refreshing drinks and soups all summer long. Here are some creative ways to enjoy them and reap the benefits.

Back to top

Juicing Your Way to Good Health

Juicing involves loading fresh vegetables and fruits into a juice extractor, which separates the insoluble fibers from the juice. What's left? Juice from veggies and fruits, soluble fiber and loads of phytonutrients. These naturally occurring compounds, such as flavanoids and carotenoids, can be protective.

What does the research show?

Fresh juice has been shown to have advantages over commercially packaged juice — even those that claim to be "all natural" or have no added sugars. The soluble fiber plus the many nutrients in fresh juice slow the rate of sugar going into the bloodstream. This means that juice made from fresh fruits behaves differently in the body, compared with store-bought fruit juice. It also takes a very large quantity of vegetables to make an appreciable amount of juice to drink. So juicing is a perfect way to get more vegetables into your daily diet.

You can store fresh juice up to 24 hours in a BPA-free airtight container in the refrigerator or cooler. But it's best if you drink the juice immediately.

Recipe ideas

Just about anything goes here. Mix up any flavors you like. Juicing is a great way to combine vegetables and fruits.

Try making juice popsicles. They're perfect for a cool treat you can feel good about.

  • Place a slice of banana into a BPA-free plastic cup or popsicle mold.
  • Insert popsicle stick into banana
  • Pour in juice
  • Freeze

Here are two refreshing drink recipes from the nutritionists at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute:

Back to top

Smoothy Goodness

Smoothies are a mix of ice, liquids, fruits, vegetables and other ingredients (such as almonds, cacao nibs, chia seeds, flax seed, wheat germ, avocado, carrots, swiss chard or soft tofu). Just combine in a blender and liquify.

You can use milk (skim, soy, almond, rice) or even coconut water as your base. Have fund and experiment.

Use low-calorie ingredients to cut calories:

  • Vegetables
  • Low-fat dairy, non dairy or coconut water
  • 1/2 a banana

What does the research show?

Smoothies are a great way to get at least two to three servings of fruits and vegetables in one convenient drink. You also get fiber along with phytonutrients.

Fruits are often the main ingredient in smoothies. They provide flavanoids including:

  • Quercitin: Inhibits cancerous cell growth and causes abnormal cells to "self-destruct" (apoptosis)
  • Ellagic acid: Interferes with cancer cell multiplication
    • Causes apoptosis
    • May inhibit the growth of tumors of the skin, esophagus, and lung, as well as other tumors caused by carcinogens
  • Glucarate: May help detoxify carcinogens created by animal protein cooked at high temperatures
    • May prevent cancer by increasing the body's ability to eliminate cancer-causing toxins that come from diet and the environment
    • May hinder the formation of breast and uterine tumors by helping the body remove excess estrogen and other hormones that promote these diseases
  • Procyanidins, catechins and flavanones: Improves bone health

Recipe ideas

Back to top

Chill Out With Soup

Soups are another great way to add tasty vegetables and fruits to your diet. Chilled soups are perfect for a summer meal or snack. The pureed texture makes them a lighter choice. And they're packed with phytonutrients.

What does the research show?

Many chilled soups include foods like tomatoes, watermelon and strawberries. What do these red gems have in common? They are excellent sources of flavanoids and carotenes.

Carotenoids such as beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, cryptoxanthin, lycopene, lutein, and zeaxanthin may:

  • Help prevent colon, prostate, breast and lung cancers
  • Reduce the risk of breast cancer recurrence
  • Prevent degeneration of the eye

Recipe ideas

Here are two recipes from the American Institute for Cancer Research website:

Back to top

Stacy Kennedy, M.P.H., R.D., C.S.O., L.D.N. is a senior clinical nutritionist for Dana Farber/Brigham and Women's Hospital Cancer Care. She is a Board Certified Specialist in Oncology Nutrition and Integrative Nutritionist with the Zakim Center for Integrative Therapies. Stacy is an American College of Sports Medicine Certified Health Fitness Specialist.

More Food for Thought Articles arrow pointing right
    Print Printer-friendly format    
HMS header
 •  A Parent's Life
 •  Woman to Woman
 •  Focus on Fitness
 •  Medical Myths
 •  Healthy Heart
 •  Highlight on Drugs
 •  Food for Thought
 •  What Your Doctor Is Saying
 •  What Your Doctor Is Reading
 •  Minding Your Mind
 •  Man to Man

This website is certified by Health On the Net Foundation. Click to verify.