Summer is synonymous with cold beers, days by the pool and frozen desserts. It’s all about beating the heat. However, foods that seem like chill choices may have the opposite effect. According to traditional Chinese medicine, there exists “warming foods” and “cooling foods.”
“It is said that the cooling foods help to clear heat and toxins from the body, whereas the warming foods increase circulation and raise qi or vital energy,” explains Kerry Bajaj, certified health coach at Eleven Eleven Wellness Center in New York City. Reach for the following eight foods this summer for some sweet, healthy relief.
Being “cool as a cucumber” might actually have some weight to it. Cucumbers are incredibly hydrating, and staying adequately hydrated during the hotter months is crucial. Snack on cucumber slices and hummus, or if you’re truly desperate for some heat relief, “A green juice with lots of cucumber and lemon is a great way to stay hydrated and cool,” says Bajaj. Either way, you’ll reap the benefits.
No day at the beach is complete without some fresh slices of watermelon, and you’re actually doing your body a favor by keeping the tradition alive. “It’s so helpful to eat seasonally, says Bajaj.” In the summer, cooling foods like watermelon can act like internal A/C, while in the winter, warming foods like meat, spices and root vegetables can act like an internal space heater.”
Originally cultivated in China, peaches are another cool, seasonal pick. Not only are they delicious this time of year, but they also contain vitamins A and C, which promote healthy skin, and at 35 to 50 calories a pop, they make the perfect diet-friendly dessert.
Pair apples with peanut butter for the perfect snack that will cool you down and fill you up. Apples contain about 4 grams of fiber for around 95 calories. They also contain a type of soluble fiber called pectin, which has been found to stop hunger in its tracks and aid in weight loss. For an extra dose of on-the-go refreshment, pick up an Apple-Ade, a freshly squeezed blend of apples, lemon and ginger, at Jamba Juice.
Along with banana, spinach, kale and cucumber, pineapple makes for a kick-ass green smoothie booster. In fact, all of these ingredients are considered to be cooling, so blend away! Pineapple is also the only known source of an enzyme called bromelain, which is credited for reducing inflammation in the body.
Is there anything that leafy greens can’t do for your body? Spinach, kale, collard greens and romaine take the nutritional cake for healing and helping your body. Since greens have a high water content, they’re easy to digest. This means your body doesn’t have to work as hard, which saves you energy and keeps you cool.
Citrus has an incredible cooling effect on the body and also promotes detoxification. Everyone knows how important it is to drink a ton of water every day, but plain ol’ H2O can be boring. Time and time again, experts recommend adding lemon to your water not only for its skin and immune-boosting benefits, but because it actually encourages you to drink more water overall.
Zucchini is actually a type of summer squash that can range in color from yellow to a dark green. In addition to containing vitamin C and important phytonutrients, zucchini is a great source of manganese. The mineral can help protect your body from free radicals (particularly of concern during the summer months when you’re more susceptible to sun damage) and also promotes collagen production and healthy bone tissue growth.