Five foods to beat the summer heat

image_1_240x240apl27After playing hide and seek for a long time, the summer fury is upon us with full blast.

The heat and humidity is crushing and it just makes us want to go off somewhere cool. Increase in temperatures make the body work over time in trying to keep the system cool and functioning optimally. This is the time when we are highly susceptible to sunstrokes, dehydration and sluggish metabolism.

Right food choices are very important in this season to maintain the system. Luckily this is the season which provides us abundant choices in fruits and foods.

Here are five foods that will help you keep your system cool.

1. Coconut water: Coconut water is a natural drink, with properties that aid in keeping the body cool and hydrated. It has perfect electrolyte balance, which means that the salts that one loses through sweating are present in perfect balance in this drink. It is a fat and cholesterol free, low calorie, hydrating drink that also boosts your metabolism. Coconut water contains potassium, calcium and magnesium, all of which help in keeping the body cool.

Coconut water also has anti – fungal and anti – bacterial properties and will help in keeping urinary tract infections at bay, which are very common in this season. Fortunately for us, this fruit is very easily available to us Mumbaiites. So, drink up this naturally cool beverage.

2. Cardamom: Also known as Elaichi, it falls in the family of spices. If you are wondering that how would a spice help in keeping the body cool then the answer lies in the fact that how it behaves in the body upon digestion. Cardamom is known for a host of medicinal effects like it being an agent against flatulence, indigestion, bad breath, nausea, loss of appetite, acidity and so on. But one of its bigger properties is to detoxify the system.

Cardamom is rich in the salt of potassium as well as magnesium and fiber along with iron and manganese. This gives it good diuretic properties and hence helps eliminates the waste from the kidneys, liver and bladder, therefore cooling down the system. So, lace your morning cuppas with elaichi and enjoy not only its cooling benefits but also whole lot of others.

3. Chia seeds: Chia seeds are also known as Sabja. Most commonly used in India as an addition to falooda kulfi, they are small, black seeds which when soaked in water form a gelatinous mass around them. Chia seeds are rich in potassium, calcium, manganese, fiber and omega 3 and 6 fatty acids. Apart from being a coolant to the body they also help in reducing cholesterol. These nutrients help in reducing hypertension and maintaining a healthy weight along with boosting the metabolism and providing a feeling of satiety.

Chia seeds can be used in various cooling beverages like cold milks, coconut water, and buttermilk or unsoaked, they can be sprinkled over curd or salads.

4. Mint: Mint is a very popular herb known for its aroma as well as medicinal value. It contains menthol which provides it with a refreshing, cooling sensation when eaten. It is a very good source of Vitamins A and C, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium and manganese. It is an anti-hypertensive agent and also works as an anti-spasmodic. Certain compounds in mint relax the intestinal walls and hence help in Irritable Bowel Syndrome and other colic pains. The cooling property of mint comes from various essential volatile oils like menthol and when consumed they cool the body.

Mint is a powerhouse of antioxidants hence a good herb to fight cancer. Also, it’s a good source of tryptophan which is an essential amino acid, necessary in Niacin and serotonin production. Niacin aids in metabolism and hormone production whereas serotonin is responsible for a good night’s sleep. So, to partake the various healing benefits of this herb, add it to your iced teas, salads and chutneys.

5. Watermelon: A quintessential summer fruit, watermelon contains up to 91 % by weight, water. This therefore helps in hydrating your body and cooling it down. Watermelon is a rich source of potassium, Vitamins C and A, magnesium, copper, manganese and omega 6 fatty acids. It also keeps your blood pressure and various other heart ailments in control.

Watermelon also contains an amino acid, L-Citrulline which soothes sore muscles and helps improve the blood circulation. Due to its muscle relaxant quality and the natural sugar present in it, watermelon is also a fantastic post workout snack. Make juices, salads or just chow down on this sweet summer fruit.

For people suffering from Renal diseases or Low Blood Pressure, care should be taken in terms of portion control when it comes to cooling foods as they tend to be high in potassium.

So go ahead and gorge on these foods to keep yourself well hydrated and super cool in the heat this summer!

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Ms. Nisha Singh
Nutritionist & Wellness Consultant

Nutritionist Nisha Singh is a gold medalist with over 10 years of independent experience of managing various ailments through lifestyle and dietary modifications, counselling of patients, diet and meal planning. She specializes in weight loss diets, pregnancy and post pregnancy diet plans, cardiac and lipid management, dealing with everyday diseases through dietary modification and health management of the athletes.

Image: Getty Images

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