Eat the Rainbow
But what is healthy? You can't go wrong with anything that has bright, vibrant colors—think fruits and vegetables, not boxes of processed junk food.
Lycopene-rich foods also have been shown to decrease symptoms of wheezing, asthma and shortness of breath in people when they exercise.
Canned and cooked tomatoes have been shown to contain more lycopene than fresh, so go crazy with the ketchup, salsa and marinara sauce.
- Red Bell Pepper
The reds pack twice the vitamin C and nine times as much vitamin A as their green relatives. They've been shown to aid in the fight against everything from asthma to cancer to cataracts.
Guava is packed with vitamins A and C. It also contains heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids and belly-filling fiber.
This summertime favorite is also a big provider of vitamins A and C, which help to neutralize cancer-causing free radicals.
- Pink Grapefruit
This contains one of the highest concentrations of antioxidants in the produce aisle.
The secret, though, is that the orange's most powerful healing properties are found in the peel. Use a zester to grate the peel over bowls of yogurt or salads or directly into smoothies.
- Sweet Potato
The best part about sweet potatoes, outside of the beta-carotene, is that they're loaded with fiber. That means they have a gentler effect on blood sugar levels than regular potatoes.
The snack of choice for Bugs Bunny happens to be the richest carotene source of all. Baby carrots are perfect plain for dipping or snacking, of course, but also try shredding carrots into a salad or marinara for a bit of natural sweetness.
Sliced cantaloupe and yogurt make a great breakfast, or combine the two in a food processor with a touch of honey and lemon and puree into a great low-cal dessert.
Research shows that yellow foods help decrease inflammation in the joints, ensuring a springy step in kids for years to come. Studies also show they may improve the functioning of the respiratory system, making beating their classmates in dodgeball and relay races just that much easier.
- Yellow Bell Pepper
Yellow bells are vitamin C treasure troves, providing two and a half times the amount you'd get from an orange. Their sweet, mellow flavor is perfect for kids.
Skewer chunks and cook on a hot grill for a killer dessert.
This king of the summer barbecue is loaded with thiamin, which plays a central role in energy production and cognitive function. Boost their brains and their energy levels by carefully removing the kernels from the cob with a kitchen knife and sautéing with a bit of olive oil.
Bananas are loaded with potassium, which will help your kids grow strong, durable bones. Here's a shopping tip: Not all bananas are grown equal. Search for those with a deeper gold to their edible flesh.
- Yellow Squash
With huge doses of fiber, manganese, magnesium and folate, summer squash proves to be a serious nutritional player.
This creamy fruit is bursting with monounsaturated fats, the kind that are proven to be great for your heart.
A dense and diverse source of nutrients, this summer squash comes with everything from omega-3s to copper.
- Brussels Sprouts
One of the strongest natural cancer-fighters on the planet, brussels sprouts too often get a bad rap for being boring. Combat the boredom by roasting in a hot oven until crispy and caramelized.
These potent spears can promote the growth of healthy bacteria in our large intestines, forcing out the more mischievous kind.
- Romaine Lettuce
Whereas the ubiquitous iceberg has nary a nutrient to its name, romaine is bursting at the leaves with everything from bone-strengthening vitamin K to folic acid, essential to cardiovascular health. Other good, nutrient-dense lettuces for salads and sandwiches include Bibb, red leaf and arugula.
These little trees have two days' worth of vitamins C and K in each serving.
These deep-green leaves are a low-calorie source of calcium. With fewer than 40 calories, each serving has nearly 10 percent.
This is one of your best sources of folate, which keeps the body in good supply of oxygen-carrying red blood cells. If your kid isn't ready to eat it from the can like Popeye, try boiling it for one minute then scrambling it into eggs or mixing it into pasta.
- Green Peas
Beyond the abundance of vitamins and minerals, a cup of peas contains more than a third of your kid's daily fiber intake—more than most whole-wheat breads.
Researchers at Tufts University have found that blueberries may make brain cells respond better to incoming messages and might even spur the growth of new nerve cells, providing a new meaning to "smart eating."
A pigment concentrated in the peel of the eggplant may have powerful disease-fighting properties.
One cup of berries contains 5 percent of your child's daily folate and half the day's vitamin C.
This candy-sweet vegetable derives most of its color from a cancer-fighting pigment called betacyanin. The edible root is replete with fiber, potassium and manganese. Toss roasted beet chunks with toasted walnuts and orange segments, or grate them raw into salads.
These have more antioxidant punch than red wine, and they help the body's vitamin C do its job better!
Another rich source of antioxidants, plums have also been shown to help the body better absorb iron. Roast chunks in the oven and serve warm over a small scoop of vanilla ice cream.