Summer Foods

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The rising temperature has several negative effects on your body as heat has a way to sap your energy. The summer season is when you must absolutely know what to eat. Here is a helpful guide on choosing to eat right so that you stay hydrated while you have your daily requirement of vitamins and minerals.

Coconut water
Coconut water

Summer Calling

Diet is the most important part of summer and the heat makes you sweat which cools down the body but there is a constant loss of fluids. To stay hydrated is very important. The foods you eat help you to stay cool. “Raw veggies and fruits, especially watery ones like cucumber, watermelon, tomatoes, muskmelon, cantaloupe, bottle gourd, zucchini (specially the yellow one) and ridge gourd should be consumed. Include green chutney made of peppermint, coriander, green chilly (rich source of vitamin C), green mango in three main meals of the day. These foods help to maintain hydration, vitamin A and vitamin C nutrient in our body, which is very important to boost immunity and keep away from heatstroke,” says Dr. Seema Khanna, Consultant Nutritionist. Vibha Puri, Dietician & Founder, Fitter Fad adds, “summer is the perfect time for switching diets but one has to be careful about symptoms of nutrient deficiencies and dehydration caused by scorching heat. With sweat and outdoor activities one is bound to face dehydration, skin allergies, sunburns, vitamins and mineral deficiencies so it becomes utmost important to choose the foods wisely during this period to avoid health issues.”

Green Organic Vegetables
Green Organic Vegetables

Do it Right

Water is most essential important for hydration and better digestion. Give utmost important to fluids and vegetables. Juhi Mimani, Clinical Nutritionist, ProCare Wellness & Lifestyle Clinic says, “sattu (chickpea flour) water is a very good post workout so can be taken after walks or any workout. Fruits are good to be taken before a meal as it curbs down appetite and helps avoid overeating.” Summer foods should fulfill three important criteria – have good water content, be packed with minerals and be easy to digest. “Barley water is used as a soothing, cooling and calming recipe for patients having feverish conditions and gastric upsets. The unripe bael is most prized as a means of halting diarrhea and dysentery, which are prevalent in India in the summer months. It includes a chemical called psoralen in the pulp, which intensifies the tolerance to sunlight and aids in preserving normal skin colour,” says Hena Nafis, Nutritionist. Sumeet Raghuvanshi, Head Chef at White Castle Hospitality advices, “we can make smoothies, detox water, salads or eat them as a whole. Detox water can be made easily by putting cucumbers, some berries, mint and orange in water. Let the mixture sit for some time and then instead of normal water, one can have this revitalizing drink.”Yogurt

Stay Healthy

Summer is the season of immense exposure to heat which increases the risk of developing heat stroke, dehydration leads to loss of electrolytes and fluid, growth of microorganisms and hence prone to skin / urine/ respiratory tract / gut infections, oral ulcers and constipation at times. “It is necessary to choose and focus on foods rich in antioxidants, prebiotics and nutrients such as Vitamin A, C, E, B vitamins , adequate sodium and potassium which are suitable during summer to combat these health hazards,” says Edwina Raj, Senior Dietitian, Aster CMI Hospital. Summer comes with a lot of green vegetables, colourful fruits and herbs (it is preferred to use these to flavour the foods rather than spices which create more heat in the body), essentially leading to good hydration and protection of skin. Nutritionist Karishma Chawla says, “tomatoes are filled with antioxidants like vitamin C and lycopene will help contribute good health and skin and can be eaten in salad mix or raita or in sandwiches or lettuce wraps. Oranges are seasonal in summer and also help in hydration. It can be eaten by itself or can drink it like an orange shot.”


Add to Diet

Again make sure to incorporate summer friendly foods to your regular diet. Arzooman, Food Expert and F&B Director at Great Destination Hotels & Resorts, Bengaluru opines, “regardless of hunting for a specific ingredient, it’s always the best to go with what season has to offer. Summer produces like watermelon, berries, tomatoes, tender coconut, avocado, arugula, chili, pineapple, cucumber, cantaloupes, chard, Jerusalem artichokes, tomatillos, zucchini blossoms, colocasia and bell peppers which are easily available during this season.” Veeraj Shenoy, Vice President Food & Beverage and Retail Merchandise, Imagica adds, “the foods beneficial for summer can be incorporated as an ingredient or can be consumed as is. Ensure the cooling ingredients are part of the side dish, if not the mains with every meal. Parts of Gujarat and Rajasthan have their foods a bit extra sugary and sour to ensure the ingredients get in the digestive system to avoid dehydration.” One of the healthiest summer food is curd. Curd is not only refreshing and delicious but also has a strong coolant effect on the body. “It is also super good for managing your digestive system. Just incorporate curd of buttermilk in lunch or dinner and you will see how quickly you begin to feel light and healthy,” says Divya KP, Health Expert, Fast&Up. Also this is the season of mangoes. Fatema Valikarimwala, Clinical Dietitian, Owner & Founder of Heal-Thy, says, “it is not summers if mango did not exist in this season. The famous aam panna made out of raw mango is a lip-smacking digestive drink, packed with the goodness of vitamins and minerals and of course, super hydrating.”

Cucumber Salad
Cucumber Salad

Take Care

Avoid alcohol as it is dehydrating in nature and can add up to the dehydration the heat brings along. If you must, then ensure you drink plenty of water along with your drinks. One glass of water for every glass of drink is a good way to start. Munmun Ganeriwal, Nutritionist & Yoga/Fitness Consultant Founder, Yuktahaar says, “avoid refrigerated water as it hampers digestion. Ayurveda also has always advised against the consumption of chilled water. Instead, drink ‘matka (earthen pot)’ water. It is naturally cool and has the unique property to reduce the temperature of water in accordance with the climate.” Avoid processed, sugary drinks and beverages. They are actually dehydrating and can reduce the amount of fluid that your body actually retains. Instead, have fluids like coconut water, homemade sherbets, buttermilk, curd etc. Chetan Kanani, Co-founder, Alpino Health Foods adds, “you must avoid any heavy or high-calorie dishes which may take time to digest. Also, avoid dry food and try to consume fruits and veggies that have a lot of water content. Summer can bring a lot of humidity and one must always incorporate a lot of water consumption in their daily diet, in order to prevent dehydration.” Bhakti Samant, Chief Dietician, Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital adds, “stay away from fried foods, junk foods, packed foods loaded with salt, avoid road side food, do not eat stale food as very high chances of food poisoning if not stored at the right temperatures.” So, this summer stay safe and eat right.

Summer Checklist

  • Coconut water
  • Bel Sherbet
  • Sugarcane Juice
  • Buttermilk
  • Fruits
  • Sattu
  • Sabja seeds (Sweet basil seeds)
  • Watermelon
  • Cucumber
  • Curd
  • Mint
  • Green leafy vegetables
  • Onions
  • Melons
  • Lime water
  • Celery
  • Bottle gourd
  • Fenugreek seeds
  • Radish
  • Lemon
  • Bitter gourd
  • Green beans
  • Fennel seeds

This story first appeared in Spice Route Magazine’s May 2019 issue here:

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