Dr Rajinder Kumar Singal
The summer season can be tiring due to extreme hot conditions and demands special care in terms of food intake. Scorching heat increases the level of dehydration and reduces the energy of the body. Hence, it is important to take care of health in the summer season. The season of extreme temperatures puts our body at high risk, if we don’t follow a diet that is nutritious and cooling.
The hazardous impacts of summer can be minimised if foods having cooling properties are included in our daily diet. Here are some foods that can be eaten everyday to beat the heat:
Coconut and coconut water
To keep the body cool and hydrated, coconut water is the best drink to have in summer. Coconut is rich in many vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, fibre, protein, vitamin C, magnesium, manganese, potassium, sodium, calcium, etc.
A common summer fruit, watermelon is not only delicious to eat, but is also very nutritious for the body. This fruit is the largest source of vitamin A, C and B6. Watermelon contains 92 per cent water and 8 per cent sugar. If for some reason, water is not immediately available, having watermelon can lower the risk of dehydration. The juicy fruit is also rich in antioxidants and a large number of nutrients. It contains thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, folate, pantothenic acid, magnesium, phosphorus, sodium potassium, zinc, copper, manganese, selenium, choline, lycopene, and betaine. Watermelon contains more lycopene than any other fruit or vegetable. In short, it is a beneficial food to keep body the cool.
Cucumbers are considered a boon for summer. When the mercury shoots up, nutrient-rich cucumbers should be included in your daily diet. Cucumbers contain 95 per cent water, which keeps your body cool and fresh during the hot weather. Cucumbers also contain several antioxidants, including vitamin C, beta-carotene and manganese. Low in calories, carbohydrates, sodium, fat and cholesterol, their consumption can help prevent many serious diseases like cancer, as these contain two phytonutrient compounds associated with anti-cancer benefits: lignans and cucurbitacins.
Mineral-rich mint is a good source of vitamin C. There are many variations of mint, of which peppermint and spearmint are most used. Drinking mint juice or adding it in mango juice or sugarcane juice and curd can lower the risk of heat in the body. Mint leaves contain an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent called rosmarinic acid. Some studies found it effective in relieving seasonal allergy symptoms.
The peeled onion, eaten as a salad with food, is beneficial in summer. By eating onions daily and keeping a small onion with you when going out can save you from the heat stroke. Adding onion to your diet also helps in protecting you against the sun-stroke.
Curd or yogurt is an ideal summer food as it has many nutritious ingredients like calcium, protein, vitamins, etc. Compared to milk, yogurt is much more beneficial for health. Even people with lactose intolerance can eat curd. Phosphorus and vitamin D obtained from curd are beneficial for the body. It also contains more calcium than milk. In addition, proteins like casein and whey, lactose, iron, vitamin B12 and riboflavin is found in yogurt. Rich in probiotics, curd is good for gut health and digestion problems.
Melon is a water-rich fruit that keeps the body hydrated. Melon seeds contain a substantial amount of protein. Melons are low in calories, fat, cholesterol and do not contain much sugar. Vitamin A, C and E are found in melons more than other fruits. They are a good source of potassium, and contain good amounts of sodium and magnesium and calcium.
Lemon or lime water
Having a glass of lemon or lime water in summer may provide you many health benefits. Along with vitamin C, lemons and limes are also a rich source of potassium, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, etc. Lemon water is good for detoxification as well.
Along with calcium, sodium, copper, iron, zinc, magnesium and potassium are also included in abundance in celery. Celery is contains vitamin A, K, C, E, D, and B, including thiamin, riboflavin, folic acid, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12. It is a good source of fibre as well. Celery contains 95 per cent water which makes it beneficial for summer.
Green leafy vegetables
Green vegetables are packed with vitamins, minerals and fibre but low in calorie. These strengthen the body’s resistance and are good for general health. Most green veggies are good source of vitamin C and K and minerals like iron and many antioxidants. Spinach, mint, fenugreek, etc. are some common green vegetables.
— The writer is director and consultant, internal medicine, BLK Super Specialty Hospital, New Delhi
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