Cooling Foods to Include in Your Summer Diet

Renée Naturally Qualified Naturopath, Nutritionist & Western Medical Herbalist

The heat is on! It’s looking to be a scorcher of a summer which means plenty of al fresco dining, beach picnics and warm evening BBQs. Food plays such an integral part of the quintessential Kiwi summer experience so below are five cooling foods you may like to include in your diet to ensure you enjoy a physically and mentally refreshing summer!

  1. Cucumber: Stay as cool as a cucumber this season by munching on this cooling family favourite. Cucumbers are comprised of 96% water so naturally, they are very hydrating and refreshing for the body.

Tips for enjoying them: Store them in the fridge and slice them into batons to dip into hummus or cut them into rounds and enjoy them as a low-carb alternative to crackers for your refreshing 5pm G&T + cheese and ‘crackers’! They also make a fabulous addition to summer green juices along with mint, pineapple, coconut water and lime juice.

  1. Watermelon: No summer is complete without an icy cold watermelon straight from the chilly bin at the beach. Yum! Eating this in-season fruit quenches your thirst on the hottest of days, thanks to the fact that it is 92% water. Furthermore, the nutrients that make up that last 8% include anti-inflammatory antioxidants such as lycopene and vitamin C. Both are important nutrients for reducing oxidative damage from sun exposure!

Tips for enjoying them: Keep them in the fridge for the ultimate thirst quenching experience. Slicing them into triangles, inserting a popsicle stick into the rind and popping them in the freezer for a couple of hours is a fun and healthy take on ice blocks that kids love. Chopping them into a feta and mint salad is also a lovely way to enjoy them at a BBQ.

  1. Leafy Greens: Are leafy greens ever not good for you? We think not! However, they are particularly good for you during the warmer months. Why? Well, they are again comprised of a significant amount of water. While they don’t have the same instant thirst quenching powers of the above two foods, their cooling properties are working on a more subtle level. Because they are they are mainly comprised of water and therefore very easy to digest, it means your body doesn’t have to work ‘building heat’ to fire up your digestion. This saves you energy and helps to keep you cool.
  2. Berries: Strawberries, blackberries, blueberries and raspberries are all very alkaline fruits. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, they are believed to generate a cold energy in the body.

Tips for enjoying them: To make the most of this seasonal fruit, why not make a day of it and head to a strawberry farm for some fun strawberry picking (and perhaps add in a strawberry ice cream afterwards!). Berries are delicious straight from the fridge or mixed into yogurt or smoothies. Frozen berries are always a good option too and make for a lovely addition to a glass or bottle of water for additional hydration!

  1. Bananas: Bananas are a rich source of potassium, a mineral which helps to regulate body fluid lost through excessive sweating.

Tips for enjoying them: Bananas ripen quickly in the heat, so it’s a good idea to peel and freeze them as they ripen if you have a lot of them. Frozen or fresh, they’re a delicious base for refreshing smoothies incorporating some of the other cooling foods above such as berries and leafy greens. They’re a great on-the-go snack too, perfect for refueling in the car on the way home from a beach mission!

Whatever your plans this summer, I wish you all a happy holiday season filled with good food and good people. Stay cool and I look forward to sharing more with you in the new year!

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