Summer time and the living is easy. That is until sweating outdoors causes you to develop health problems such as dehydration, skin sensitivities and other digestive and heart related maladies.
The good news is there are some foods that will help your body look and feel its best during the hottest time of year. Below are my favourite picks for this summer:
Slicing 1 cup of raw tomato for your lunchtime salad gives you as much as 40 percent of your recommended daily intake of vitamin C and 20 percent of your daily vitamin A all for just about 35 calories and zero fat.
Tomatoes are a good source of vitamins A, C and E as well as folate and potassium. And in addition to being packed full of vitamins and minerals, studies have also found tomatoes may be antioxidant, antithrombotic, anti-inflammatory and, potentially, anti-cancer powerhouses. They have heart-protective qualities and they help lower cholesterol levels. On top of all that, while there’s no question that sunscreen should be your first line of defence against the sun, eating tomatoes could give you a little extra protection: consuming more lycopene – the carotenoid that makes tomatoes red – may protect your skin from sunburn.
Spinach and Swiss chard are all in season throughout the summer months, as are lettuce and salad greens such as arugula, red and green leaf lettuce, romaine and watercress. Greens are full of the cell-protecting and repairing antioxidants vitamins C and A and iron, as well as B vitamins and fiber. They also contain a lot of water, which will help keep you hydrated. When it comes to eating your greens, you really can’t go overboard – they’re low in calories, low in sodium and are naturally cholesterol-free. Not only do they make a great salad – whether as a side or star of the meal – don’t be shy about throwing them into a blender for a green smoothie.
Put down your sugar-laden soda and pour yourself some tea. Green tea is packed full of healthy antioxidants. Iced or hot, green tea may help reduce your risk of all sorts of health problems including, diabetes, stroke and heart disease. According to a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, people who drink about 3 cups of green tea daily had a 46 to 65 percent decrease in their risk of developing hypertension.
Not a fan of green tea? Regular tea will do as well. Studies show if you drink tea regularly, you may lower your risk of Alzheimer’s and diabetes, plus have healthier teeth and gums and stronger bones. How? Tea is rich in a class of antioxidants called flavonoids. Regardless of the variety – black, green, oolong, white or herbal – maximize the power of tea’s flavonoids by drinking it freshly brewed. If you want to keep a batch of cold tea in your refrigerator, add a little lemon juice: The citric acid and vitamin C in that squeeze of lemon – or lime, or orange – help preserve the flavonoids.
Cucumbers are a great source of beta-carotene, potassium, magnesium, as well as vitamins C, K and B5, which means they may help lower blood pressure, keep your body’s connective tissues healthy and help keep your skin hydrated. In recent studies, researchers have found encouraging preliminary evidence that cucumbers may also have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer benefits.
Be sure to eat the skin and seeds, because that’s where you’ll find the biggest bang of nutrients.
Avocados find their way onto salads, into dressings and on top of burgers with regularity, so it’s a good thing that they’re full of all sorts of healthy things, including fiber, vitamins B5, B6, C, K, folate and potassium, as well as cell-protecting antioxidants. Avocados are also full of fat, but don’t avoid them because of this. Yes, one half of an avocado contains 15 grams of unsaturated fat, but it’s good fat – monounsaturated fat. Monounsaturated fats (MUFAs) have been found to help improve cholesterol levels as well as reduce the risk of developing heart disease. Should you be watching your weight though, you might want to consider the amount of avocadoes eaten, as one contains 400 calories, make sure you include the calories within your recommended total caloric intake.
Staying hydrated keeps your memory sharp and your mood stable. The good news is that you don’t just have to drink water. You can eat it too. In addition to delivering skin-protecting lycopene which might protect your skin from sun damage, watermelon is 92 percent water (hence the name). That same high water content will also keep you feeling full, which could curb cravings.
Yogurt is made for summer eating. It is high in protein which will help you to feel fuller faster and longer. In turn, this will keep you from overloading on salty, high-calorie snacks. In addition to its high content of calcium, vitamins B2, B12, potassium and magnesium, yogurt also adds a dose of probiotics, beneficial bacteria that keeps your digestive system running smoothly. Probiotics also have proven benefits in boosting the immune system and preventing some infections.
When I consider the healthiest foods, salmon is always on my list since it is rich in omega 3, protein and essential vitamins and minerals such as vitamins A, B, D, selenium, iron, calcium and phosphorous. In addition to its proven benefits in reducing heart disease, salmon is an amazing nutrition source for healthy hair, skin and nails. Studies have also shown some beneficial effects of salmon on improved mood, brain and cognition and on decreased risk of some cancers.
Finally, we must never forget water all year round, but especially during the summer season. Water helps keep your body hydrated, which is important for keeping all of your body functions working properly. It keeps tissues moist and cells healthy and it helps remove toxins and waste. Water also helps the body regulate temperature and helps prevent dehydration.
How much water is enough? It’s going to depend on your lifestyle, your habits and how your individual body works, but the Institute of Medicine suggests roughly 2 to 3 liters of total fluids every day (that’s 2.2 liters or 9 cups for women and 3 liters or 13 cups for men every day).
Bored with water? Many fruits and vegetables (such as lemon, cucumbers and berries) can be added to your water giving you the added benefit of boosting your vitamin and mineral intake at the same time.< Back