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Summer is all about warm weather, spending lots of time outdoors with family and friends, and…food!!!

Many experts agree that summer provides you with some of the most perfect foods of the entire year are at their prime during the summer months.

“I always tell patients that if they are outside in the fresh air, they should be consuming foods that are fresh and found in nature — like vegetables, fruits, seeds, nuts, legumes and water instead of processed foods created in labs and factories,” says Katherine Farrell Harris, director of Integrated Nutrition for AdvantageCare Physicians.

Just some of the top foods of summer include:

Corn salad: Corn is high-fiber, low-calorie, and the white version is rich in Vitamin A. Throw in some antioxidant-packed bell peppers, along with some diced onion, to make a deliciously healthy side salad.

Summer soups: Chilled summer soups, such as gazpacho, often contain healthy veggies like bell peppers, tomatoes, and cucumbers. And we all should know how healthy veggies are by now.

Shrimp cocktail: Who doesn’t like this sweet, tangy and refreshing piece of heaven? Shrimp are high-protein, low-calorie, and a good source of iron. Plus, that rich tomato sauce is packed with lycopene and so many other vitamins, include A, C, K, folate and potassium. Do your body a favor and add some slices of avocado, which many nutritionists consider to be one of nature’s most perfect foods.

Kabobs: Chicken or shrimp kabobs are perfect, protein-packed additions to any grill. Adding veggies and fruit, such as peppers, zucchini, mushrooms and pineapple, to that skewer just makes things even better. Just makes sure to not char your food when grilling – eating charred food is believed to increase cancer risks.

Fruit salad: Summer is peak season for red, purple and blue fruit, which tend to be great sources of antioxidants, vitamins and fiber.

Here are some other healthy summer eating tips:

  • Use fresh, seasonal ingredients to create a balanced meal that includes vegetables, salads and healthy snacks like hummus.
  • Use legumes — beans, peas or lentils — to make salads or side dishes. They are high in fiber and vitamins, and tend to be much healthier than creamy salads, such as potato salad.
  • Make your own salad dressing, using healthy ingredients like olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice and herbs.
  • When you’re barbecuing, choose lean cuts of meat and trim excess fat. When fat drips on hot coals, it creates smoke that contains potential cancer-causing compounds. Meat with less fat produces less smoke.
  • Don’t char meat when you’re grilling it, and don’t eat any parts that are blackened or burned. Those areas contain the highest levels of known cancer-causing chemicals.