Dr. Ellison's Top Healthy Summer Foods

RaspberrisWith summer's arrival and kids home for the better part of three months, patients and parents sometimes ask me for suggestions of healthy snacks (and not just for kids). It can be easy to fall into the trap of junk and processed food, but with a little thought and planning these healthier options are definitely doable. I certainly enjoy chips and salsa or occasional potato chips as well. Pretzels were always my go-to when I got home from work. We enjoy taking advantage of summer's seasonal foods as well for both snacks and meals. Here are ten of my favorites.

  1. Nuts
    Specifically walnuts. Full of fiber and protein, omega-3 fats and antioxidants, it doesn't take much for these to keep you feeling full longer. I read that studies show just 1 ounce of walnuts 5 times a week can cut heart disease risk by almost 40 .percent. Nuts, in general, are an easy snack to grab on your way out the door. Walnuts tasted like dirt to me at first, but you get used to them.

  2. Watermelon
    Along with drinking water, some foods offer great hydrating effects and watermelon is one, containing more than 90 percent water. Watermelon also contains lycopene, which helps to protect the skin from damaging sun, as well as antioxidants, and vitamins A,B6 and C. We have probably had watermelon at every summer barbecue.

  3. Raspberries
    Sweet, full of vitamins and 1 cup contains as much as 8 grams of fiber. Raspberries are one of my favorites for breakfast.

  4. Blueberries
    Sweet yet tart, Blueberries are full of antioxidants and fiber. I like them fresh, but frozen are great for throwing in a smoothie.

  5. Tart Cherries
    Cherries just remind me of summer. We used to go pick them when I was a kid and I'd eat them right out of my bucket before I had finished filling it up. Of course, as a kid I was unaware that cherries contain cancer-fighting flavonoids and anthocyanins that help increase fat burning, as well as melatonin that may help sleep. 

  6. Tomatoes
    There is nothing like fresh homegrown tomatoes in summer, sliced with just a sprinkle of salt and pepper. I like them paired with some mozzarella and a little basil. Tomatoes also contain lycopene, the phytonutrient that gives them the red color and helps protect the skin from sun. Tomatoes contain plenty of vitamin C and are about 94 percent water content too.

  7. Cucumbers
    Cucumbers actually have a higher water content than watermelon at 95 percent. They're low calorie and versatile. Try them as a replacement for crackers with cheese. I was skeptical at first too.

  8. Avocados
    We can't keep enough avocados around our house. They go with just about everything from sandwiches and burgers, to salads and eggs. Of course, guacamole and chips are a must.

  9. Spinach
    Full of fiber and essential nutrients that your body can lose when you've been outside in the sun, spinach makes a great salad base for lunch or dinner, added to eggs, on a sandwich. I recently learned that spinach contains 157 mg of magnesium per cup.

  10. Celery
    If you're like me, you probably think celery has no taste. But it's a great vehicle for other things. You can top it with cream cheese or peanut butter or anything you can think.Celery is 95 percent water, contains fiber, vitamins A,C,K, B, folate and potassium. Celery is one tha I eat almost daily.


Most of these foods, except for nuts, contain a lot of water so they make excellent snacks in the summer when it is even more important to stay hydrated. Spending excessive time in the sun and sweating can deplete your body's  electrolytes-potassium, magnesium, sodium and calcium. These foods are all healthy choices for your teeth as well as your body

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