Summer is the time to celebrate and indulge in garden parties, sizzling barbeques, picnics, and alfresco dining. It is also an ideal opportunity to make most of the fresh seasonal produce. The outdoor fun and frolic brings with it the need to keep cool, hydrated, and well nourished in the hot weather. Wearing comfortable clothes and sitting in air con can provide some relief in sweltering conditions. But the real magic is done with diet. So the fact is you can beat the heat with refreshing summer foods and proper hydration. They are the nourishing must-haves and a saviour on hot days.
The summer months are associated with soaring temperatures and scorching heat. This can lead to dehydration, lethargy, and even loss of appetite. Drinking water isn’t the only solution! So we should bank on our eating choices. But the big question remains, what to eat?
Something refreshing, something nutritious, is what you need to keep yourself going in the summer heat. Remember, the nutrients are at their peak when freshly picked. And water from foods counts toward your overall daily fluid intake. Avoid hot, spicy, and fried meals when the temperature shoots up as they can make us feel hotter overall.
Healthy Summer Foods to Look for
Here is a line-up of foods that you can choose to help deal with the hot and humid weather.
- Watermelon is a sweet, refreshing, low-cal fruit with more than 90% water content. Packed with essential nutrients and powerful antioxidants, it is a rich source of vitamin A, C, B6, potassium, lycopene, ascorbic acid, and citrulline. It makes a great summer snack to relish and keep hydrated. It supports heart health and lowers blood pressure. You can enjoy it as fruit salad or in a smoothie or in ice lollies.
- Strawberries are sweet, juicy, fragrant berries that are hard to resist. These succulent fruits are an abundant source of vitamin C, fibre, and antioxidants. Apart from being a natural sugar source (low Glycaemic Index), they help reduce the risk of developing many chronic illnesses. These vibrant fruits May help reduce high blood pressure and cholesterol levels. The heart-healthy little fruit is sodium-free, fat-free, and cholesterol-free. The best way to fancy them is to eat them raw or infused in water or you could try some strawberries with Greek yoghurt.
- Yoghurt is a probiotic protein and calcium-rich foo, which can help keep you hydrated as well as supporting your digestive health. It can help support bone health and prevent osteoporosis. Eating yoghurt is the perfect way to diversify your gut bacteria. The protein satisfies your rumbling tummy from snacking on higher-calorie snacks. You can add it to smoothies, have it with berries, or enjoy it as buttermilk.
- Avocado is a nutrient-dense fruit made up of mostly water and fibre. It is a rich source of vitamins C, E, K, B6, niacin, folate, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, and minerals like magnesium and potassium. Half of a medium avocado fruit counts towards your five-a-day. The antioxidants lutein and beta-carotene found in them promote eye and skin health. They have healthy fats, the monounsaturated fats needed for a healthy heart. You can enjoy them with egg and toast or in a salad.
- Cucumber is a vegetable with high water content and essential vitamins and minerals to help you stay cool in summer. Although in small amounts, they contribute vitamin A, C, K, magnesium, potassium, and manganese to your diet. They keep you hydrated in the sweltering weather. You can use them in numerous ways. Eat them raw, make a creamy salad or chilled cucumber soup, or infuse the slices in water.
- Fresh corn is one of the most nutritious food for summer. It is rich in fibre, minerals, and vitamins A, B, and E. Corn contains antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin that are known to reduce age-related macular degeneration and cataract. They are an imminent food item on the summer barbeque menu. You can grill or boil corn or have it in soups and salads.
More hydrating foods to nosh upon
- Leafy greens like lettuce, kale, and spinach are 80-95% water and are rich in carotenoids, antioxidants, and folate. They are integral in strengthening the skin’s defences against damaging sun rays. Moreover, they may reduce sensitivity to UV light and help repair dry and flaky skin.
- Tomatoes are high in the antioxidant lycopene and can help protect your cells from damage. They are a good source of potassium, vitamins B and E, and other nutrients. They are about 93-94% water. Appetising in a salad or perfect in a sandwich, it is easy to incorporate this fruit into your daily meals.
- Citrus fruits like lemons, oranges, and grapefruits are water-dense and brimful with numerous health benefits. Packed with essential vitamins and minerals, they aid digestion and iron absorption.
- Mint is a cooling and refreshing herb with anti-inflammatory properties that are a bonus for summer. Mint leaves enhance the flavour of dishes. You can add it to yoghurt, make chutneys or relish it in juices and drinks.
- Onions are underground bulbs packed with impressive health benefits. They are high in nutrients, including vitamin C, a range of B vitamins, and potassium. Red onions are also high in quercetin, known to have anti-allergen properties. They make an essential ingredient for salads, dips, curries, or yoghurt.
The list is endless. The main idea is to enrich and enlighten awareness and knowledge of summer foods. Make sure you eat healthy, in the correct form, and at the right time. Your food choices are influenced by various factors. They vary with age, sex, health, taste, availability, and individual requirements. It is rightly said, “Your diet is a bank account. Good food choices are good investments.” -Bethany Frankel.
To practice this successfully, we need expert guidance. Get in touch with one of our Registered Dietitians for your nutritional assessment and wellness targets. Their tailored action plans will help you through the ongoing summer season.
- Versatile Nutraceutical Potentials of Watermelon -A Modest Fruit Loaded with Pharmaceutically Valuable Phytochemicals (2020); Abinaya Manivannan, Eun-Su Lee, Koeun Han, Hye-Eun Lee, Do-Sun Kim https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33187365/
- Watermelon lycopene and allied health claims (2014); Ambreen Naz, Masood Sadiq Butt, Muhammad Tauseef Sultan, Mir Muhammad Nasir Qayyum, and Rai Shahid Niaz; https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26417290/
- The strawberry: composition, nutritional quality, and impact on human health (2012); Francesca Giampieri , Sara Tulipani, Josè M Alvarez-Suarez, Josè L Quiles, Bruno Mezzetti, Maurizio Battino; https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22153122/
- Avocado Consumption Increases Macular Pigment Density in Older Adults: A Randomized, Controlled Trial (2017); Tammy M. Scott, Helen M. Rasmussen, Oliver Chen, and Elizabeth J. Johnson; https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29635493/
- Contribution of Water from Food and Fluids to Total Water Intake: Analysis of a French and UK Population Surveys (2016); Isabelle Guelinckx, Gabriel Tavoularis, Jürgen König, Clémentine Morin, Hakam Gharbi, Joan Gandy; https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27754402/
- Yogurt and other fermented foods as sources of health-promoting bacteria (2018); Car Reen Kok, Robert Hutkins; https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30452699/
- Onions: a source of unique dietary flavonoids (2007); Rune Slimestad, Torgils Fossen, Ingunn Molund Vågen; https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17997520/