Summer is here and we all know what that means. Beach days, barbecues, vacation and plenty of fun in the sun. However, during the hottest time of the year, it is crucial to stay hydrated and get the nutrients you need from the proper foods. Seasonal fruits and veggies are definitely a great place to start and taste so good during the delightful summer months. But, did you know that there are other foods you should be enjoying during the season? Here’s a list of the best summer foods for their taste and nutritional advantages that you should definitely pick up during your next trip to the grocery store or farmers market.

1. Corn

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Sweet Corn Shortcake

Who doesn’t love corn on the cob during summer? This summer barbecue staple not only tastes delicious but is packed with lutein and zeaxanthin which can help form macular pigment in your eyes that helps filter out some of the damaging rays from the sun. Think of them as the sunglasses of the antioxidant world. Some great ways to make this tasty food even tastier are to grill it and add such ingredients as sweet honey butter, garlic mayo, sweet chili sriracha sauce (click HERE for recipe), or chili powder, cotija cheese and cilantro.

2. Watermelon

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Watermelon, Tomato, and Burrata

What food represents summer better than watermelon? If you don’t drink much water, then watermelon is the perfect snack for you. Watermelon has a large water content and can keep you hydrated, refreshed and feeling full. It also contains more of the antioxidant lycopene than any other fruit or vegetable which protects skin cells from sun damage. There are endless ways you can incorporate watermelon into your meals. Mix it in a smoothie, make watermelon gazpacho, toss it in a salad, skewer it on fruit kabobs…the possibilities are endless.

3. Green Tea

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Coconut Panna Cotta with Green Tea Gelee and Basil Seeds

If you find drinking water boring, try changing things up with some green tea. In the warm summer months, pour it over ice for a refreshing and beneficial beverage. Not only does it help fight cancer and heart disease but also boosts your metabolism. There are many ways you can ingest green tea other than by drinking it. Try steeping it in hot water and pouring over oatmeal, or add some to your favorite vinaigrette and toss in a salad. You can also opt for green tea powder which you can mix in to just about anything including baked goods, melted chocolate to dip fruit in, yogurt, etc.

4. Garlic

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Roasted Garlic Carpaccio with White Bean Puree and Arugula Pesto

Did you know that garlic helps you fight the heat? It increases blood circulation which helps you sweat and control your body temperature, thus keeping you cool. So, add minced garlic to marinades, sautéed garlic to sauces, salad dressings and dips, roasted garlic to mashed potatoes or substitute garlic powder for salt in recipes.

5. Gazpacho

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Tomato Gazpacho with Basil Foam

If salads aren’t your thing, try gazpacho. It packs on the nutrients with such vegetables as tomatoes, cucumbers, garlic, onions and bell peppers. The big benefit of this dish comes from its main ingredient: tomatoes. Tomatoes are overflowing with nutrition and contain lutein, zeaxanthin, vitamins A, C, E, and B, potassium, manganese, and phosphorus. Plus, gazpacho is chilled which means it’s a great way to help you cool down.

Now go out there and eat your way to a delicious and healthy summer!