It’s prime time for summer produce picks, like lettuce, tomatoes, zucchini and eggplant. And these seasonal favorites aren’t just delicious—they offer up some impressive nutritional benefits, as well. Make the very most of summer’s bounty with our guide to choosing the freshest, tastiest seasonal vegetables.
How it’s healthy: Whether you enjoy delicate red and green leaf lettuces, or crisp Bibb and Boston lettuce, you’ll get nutrients like fiber, calcium and vitamin K in every bite. Crunchy romaine lettuce is an especially heart-healthy choice, as it’s an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin C and folate.
How to select and store it: Look for compact, unblemished heads of lettuce with leaves that aren’t browning or wilted. And only purchase what you can use soon, since lettuce spoils quickly. Store it in the vegetable drawer of your fridge, and wait to wash it until just before eating.
How it’s healthy: Earthy eggplant comes in a variety of colors, but the favorite, Black Beauty, owes its deep purple color to phytonutrients called anthocyanins, which are known to boost cardiovascular health and help preserve memory.
How to select and store it: Choose heavy eggplants with firm, glossy skin. You can store whole, unwashed eggplants in a cool place (46° F to 55° F) for three to five days. If you refrigerate your eggplants, use them immediately after taking them out.
Zucchini and Yellow Squash
How it’s healthy: Zucchini and yellow squash contain the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, which help boost eye health. They’re also a good source of heart-healthy vitamins and minerals, like vitamin C, potassium and folate.
How to select and store it: Look for smaller zucchinis and yellow squashes—they’re more tender and have fewer seeds. Also, choose ones with bright, blemish-free skins. You can store squash in a produce bag in the vegetable bin of the fridge for up to a week.
How it’s healthy: Sweet tomatoes get their color from a phytochemical called lycopene, which helps fight free radicals that can age skin. Lycopene may also help reduce the risk of for some cancers and heart disease. Tomatoes are also an excellent source of immune-boosting vitamin C.
How to select and store it: Look for tomatoes with bright skins and firm flesh. Keep them at room temperature, but out of direct sunlight. Never store tomatoes in the refrigerator—cold temps ruin both their texture and flavor.