The summer diet: Foods to beat the heat and fulfill daily nutrition needs


Summers are here and lemonade, juices, fruit and lots of water have already become a part of summer diets to keep the body naturally cool. However, liquids are not the only solution to beating heat and keeping the body hydrated. Certain foods also help in keeping the body fit and cool during the hot months. Here is a list of some foods that can become a part of daily diet to help beat the heat as well as to help with the daily nutrition needs.

Fennel seedsSoaking a handful of fennel seeds overnight and having its water in the morning helps in cooling the body. They also help in getting rid of bad breath, purifies blood, keeps cancer at bay, regulates blood pressure and improves digestion. In menopausal women, it also reduces hot flashes.

JackfruitJackfruit is one superfood that can help combat heat by improving immunity, maintaining blood pressure, and replenishing energy. Jackfruit can be consumed in the form of a shake in summers made with milk, sweetener and ripened jackfruit, or a smoothie made with yogurt, sugar, ice cubes and ripened jackfruit. Jackfruit mojito or lassi too are good options for summer to keep the body cool. It is rich in protein, fibre and carbohydrates. It helps with skin problems and high blood pressure. It has recently become popular as a ‘superfood meat alternative’.

PulsesPulses are a part of meals of almost every Indian household. Certain pulses leave a cooling effect on the body. Moong, rich in calcium, phosphorus and iron, is easy to digest. Its cooling properties make it an excellent summer food. Black chana, rich in magnesium, calcium and iron, too, is common among people who live in hotter regions.

GulkandThe sweet preserve of rose petals has been traditionally consumed in India either directly or with paan. It is believed to have a cooling effect on the body and is used in the Unani system of medicine as a cooling agent. Gulkand is also used to treat body imbalances in Persian and ayurvedic medicines. It is usually prepared from damask roses, China roses, French roses or Cabbage roses. The petals are cooked into a thick paste. It cures heat-related problems, pain, lethargy, itching and tiredness. It also helps with inflammation and is an antioxidant. In summers, a small portion of gulkand a day can help beat stress and can keep the body cool.

SattuSattu is known for its cooling properties and has a reputation as an antidote to heat. One can make sattu chokha, sattu parathas, spiced drinks, namkeen, halwa, baby food out of sattu, which is a flour commonly used in India and Pakistan made with mixing of ground pulses and cereals. It is known to have its roots in Bihar. Its insoluble fibre makes it great for digestion and cleanses the colon and prevents bloating, among other benefits. It is also rich in fibre, iron, calcium, protein, manganese and magnesium. The essential difference between besan and sattu, both used commonly in Indian households, is that the former is made of grounded horse gram without being roasted and the latter is either a mixture of roasted maize and barley or roasted horse gram.

Green vegetablesGreen vegetables are a must-have in summers. Leafy vegetables like lettuce, amaranth, spinach, cabbage, kale are natural coolants and must be a part of the diet in the form of salads or vegetables. Other vegetables like bitter gourd, pumpkin, tomatoes, bottle gourd, brinjals, too, help cool the body and provide it with sufficient nutrients. Cucumbers, beans, squash, berries must also be included in summer diets to remain healthy. Carrot and beetroot must be a part of summer salads to complete the nutrition intake of the body.

Dry fruitIt is a common perception that dry fruits must be had in winters to keep the body warm and healthy. However, dry fruits when consumed in the correct manner can also help the body remain cool in summers. Most dry fruits must be consumed after soaking them overnight in water so as to increase their water content. Figs, walnuts, almonds, and raisins must be soaked in water overnight and had on an empty stomach in the morning. While children can be given two almonds a day, adults can consume three-four soaked almonds per day.

Green mango chutneyRaw mango chutney helps beat the summer heat and is one of the most popular chutneys in Indian households during summer. Green and unripe mangoes can be used to make chutneys during summer. Several variations of raw mango chutney can be made & consumed with food in summers like the mint mango chutney. Each state has its own local recipe for mango chutney as well. It is known to be rich in antioxidants and iron.