Seasonal Produce Spotlight

By late July local produce is in full swing, with rich flavors and great prices throughout your produce department. Let’s look at two of them in this seasonal produce spotlight.

Blackberries – What is, gram for gram, the richest whole food source of fiber? If you guessed blackberries, sorry, you’re wrong. It’s raspberries, but blackberries still come in at an impressive second (only half a gram shy per serving). A single cup of blackberries provides 1/3 of your daily recommended fiber. In fact, there’s more fiber in blackberries than digestible carbohydrate (something few fruits can boast). In addition to fiber, you’ll also get half your daily vitamin C, 1/3 of your daily vitamin K, and essential minerals like copper and manganese.

Blackberries are rich in antioxidants like anthocyanins, flavonoids, and phenolic acids. Blueberries and raspberries are the only fruits that can match them in their antioxidant capacity and they even beat out most all vegetables except kale and spinach. While all berries contain antioxidants, they do vary significantly in the type of antioxidants so consuming a variety will likely provide the best health benefits. 

Corn – Corn is the oddball of the produce department. It’s classified as a grain when dried as kernels or cornmeal, but when fresh, it’s a vegetable (so yes, an ear counts toward your recommended 10 daily servings of fruits and veggies). While corn sometimes gets a bad rap, it is a healthful addition to your diet.

Contrary to common belief, corn is readily digested. Corn kernels contain three primary parts, the indigestible pericarp shell and the nutrient-rich germ and endosperm inside. While the pericarp passes through your digestive system more or less intact, the germ and endosperm, along with all their nutrients, are readily absorbed (provided you chew your corn to break open the pericarp). So what nutrients does corn provide? In addition to being one of the richest natural sources of lutein and zeaxanthin (antioxidants important for eye health), corn is a good source of B vitamins, vitamin C, and fiber. Corn is a starchy vegetable, providing roughly 25 g digestible carbohydrate per ear, so you may choose to treat this as both a vegetable and carbohydrate if you’re watching calories or carbs.

Be careful, however, corn can quickly morph into an indulgence if you drench your ear in butter and coat with salt. Any oil works as a substitute for butter (olive or coconut are my favorites) or try your ear sans added fat. Reduced fat sour cream or Greek yogurt are also great substitutes for butter. If you’re watching your sodium, try replacing the salt with sriracha, fresh Italian herbs, garlic and chives, or lemon pepper (my go to is Tajin though this does contain a fair amount of sodium).