It never fails. During winters in Chicago we complain it’s too cold outside, and in the summer, we complain it’s too hot outside. Am I right?! There are many ways to beat the summertime heat: going for a swim, spending the day indoors and basking in the awesomeness of air conditioning or thinking cool thoughts. (Yes, believe it or not, that is what I was told by my father growing up in a household without air conditioning. Yeah, okay Dad…).
A far more delicious way to stay cool during the dog days of summer is to enjoy cooling foods. Eating foods to stay cool? Tell me more…
Before we dive into foods to keep you cool, it’s important to avoid foods that heat you up. When the body is already hot from the summertime heat and humidity, the last thing we want to do is heat it up even more. Spicy foods like cayenne, chilies, curries, hot peppers, and salsas should be avoided, as well as sour foods like cheeses, garlic, onion, sour creams, and yogurts. Alcohol and salty foods can also leave the body feeling dehydrated, so eat in moderation if at all.
Okay, so now that we know which foods to avoid, here are the foods you can enjoy to help keep you cool.
Avocados and water-based foods
During the hot summer months, it may seem logical to cool down with super cold foods like iced coffee, ice cream, or popsicles, but cold foods can actually extinguish your digestive fire. Instead of staying cool with ice cold beverages and food, opt for room temperature beverages and water-based foods that can help keep you hydrated and therefore cooled.
A great water-based food is an avocado. (As if we needed another reason to love them). Other water-based foods include cucumber, fresh coconut and zucchini.
Berries and alkaline foods
According to Ayurveda practices, there are certain foods that should be enjoyed during each season. In Ayurvedic tradition, it’s not a food;s temperature that makes it cool, but rather its innate qualities. Each food is classified according to its energy and effects on the body.
During the warm summer months, it is best to enjoy alkaline foods as they contain a yin energy and can potentially create a more cooling effect on the body. Some alkaline foods include fresh blackberries, blueberries, cranberries, raspberries and strawberries.
Celery is another great go to food to help keep you cool during the summer months.
Anju Mobin, a licensed nutritionist, and the Managing Editor of BestforNutrition, says “A light green crunchy vegetable, celery has a 95 percent water content. Celery is also a good source of fiber, folate, potassium, and vitamins.”
Dr. Nikola Djordjevic, MD, medical advisor at HealthCareers, seconds those sentiments.
“Believe it or not, celery is 95 percent made from water, which will help you stay hydrated and refreshed during hot summer days. What’s more, this fantastic plant is filled with sodium and potassium, zinc, and magnesium, which has known to have vast health benefits for our minds and bodies.”
Dark leafy greens
Dark leafy greens like collard greens, kale, Romaine lettuce, and spinach all have a high water content.
Dr. Djordjevic says, “Having plenty of leafy greens on your plate during hot summer months will help you stay hydrated as they contain a high amount of water. Furthermore, vitamin K found in leafy greens has plenty of health benefits such as protecting against inflammatory diseases, cancer (due to their antioxidant properties) and protecting bones from osteoporosis.”
Go ahead and make that summertime salad and pack it with an array of dark left greens to help you beat the summertime heat with each and every bite.
Like avocados and berries, melons are a super hydrating food that can quench your summertime thirst. Low in calories and high in water content, melons are an extremely cooling fruit. Some classic melons include cantaloupe, honeydew, and the summertime classic—watermelon, which contains 91 percent water content according to Mobin.
Like berries, sea vegetables have a cooling yin energy, so fill your bowl or plate with sea veggies. Chlorella, dulse, kelp, Kombu seaweed, mekabu, nori, spirulina, and Wakame seaweed are all tasty options. An easy and delicious way to get more sea veggies into your daily diet? Try making a homemade seaweed salad.