Top foods to keep you cool this summer
Here we look at the best foods and drinks to include in your summer menu.
With summer well on its way and temperatures soaring, we naturally reach for refreshing foods and drinks to keep us cool in the heat.
Salads make great summer starters and by including a variety of vegetables and fruits in different colours you can be sure to get an anti-oxidant boost. Anti-oxidants are great at preventing chronic oxidative damage that lead to inflammation. Some well-known examples include lycopene in tomatoes, lutein in dark green vegetables, resveratrol in red grapes (and red wine), and anthocyanin in blueberries. Fruits and vegetables are also high in Vitamin C and Beta-carotene, two other well-known anti-oxidants.
Adding nuts to your salads will not only add a crunchier texture, they will also top up your intake of the beneficial mono-unsaturated fatty acids (MUFA), which also boast anti-inflammatory properties.
Dress your salad with a simple vinaigrette, such as one made with extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice. Olive oil is especially rich in MUFAs and phenolic compounds such as oleuropein and oleocanthal. These compounds are responsible for its bitter, pungent taste and are powerful anti-oxidants. Together with Vitamin E, also present in olive oil in high quantities, they play a vital role in the fight against cancer, inflammation, coronary artery disease and degenerative nerve diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
And why stop at salads? Chilled vegetable soups, such as gazpacho, also make wonderful, refreshing starters that are bursting with goodness. Why not try this yummy Gazpacho soup.
Base your main meal on whole grains (such as brown rice, buckwheat and quinoa) and soy protein sources (such as tofu and edamame beans). These contain essential micronutrients, such as copper and manganese, which play important roles in anti-oxidant reactions within the body.
Oily fish such as salmon, mackerel and tuna are good choices for a light summer meal and are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which together with Vitamin D, help inhibit pro-inflammatory metabolic pathways in the body.
Serve your grilled fish or meat with a vegetable and/or fruit salsa for an extra anti-oxidant punch.
In addition to adding a tasty nuance and zest to meals, fresh herbs and spices are packed with vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients so use them liberally on your salads, stir-fries and garnishes.
For example, both turmeric and rosemary are great condiments that can be easily added to your summer dishes. Curcumin, the active compound in turmeric, is believed to have a wide range of biological effects including anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, anti-tumour, anti-bacterial and anti-viral activities. Rosemary also contains a number of potentially biologically active compounds, including anti-oxidants carnosic acid and rosmarinic acid. If you are having a barbeque this summer, make sure to add rosemary to your marinades as this has been shown to lower the formation of carcinogens (heterocyclic amines) in grilled meats.
Drinking chilled vegetable juices and fruit smoothies throughout the day will not only keep you cool, they will also ensure you get your “five-a-day”.
Iced green tea with a slice of lemon makes a wonderfully revitalizing beverage for a hot summer afternoon. Green tea contains catechin EGCG, a compound that has been shown to protect neurons against oxidative damage.
A glass of red wine is a good choice for the evening as it is packed with phytonutrients. Animal studies have shown beneficial effects of various phytonutrients in improving blood lipid profile, reducing inflammation, preventing uncontrolled cell growth (which leads to cancer), and dilating the airway (helpful in asthma).
Cold milk is another great beverage to include this summer, particularly for those who do not consume oily fish regularly as it is another good source of Vitamin D.
It is no accident that the foods that are packed with anti-oxidants and nutrients that help fight chronic inflammation are ones that will keep you cool in the summer and healthy all year round!
We've a great Gazpacho Recipe for you here
Written by Victoria Trowse