It’s that time of the year again, when people start talking about the temperature using multiple exclamation marks! That’s right, summer is here. Four long sweltering months of it. But don’t let that faze you. Bring out your linen clothes, slip into your sandals and pour yourself a tall, chilled, homemade antidote to the season.
Summer coolers are a great way to keep hydrated during
this season. They’re not just a healthier alternative to
fizzy or sweetened drinks, but they also double up as
mini-air conditioners to help you keep cool during the
days of summer.
Take your pick from an abundant and colorful array of seasonal summer fruits and vegetables. Juice them, blend them, use them in a slush or a smoothie, or even just sink your teeth into them and you can stay refreshed no matter what the weatherman says.
Here are some of nature’s super coolers that will help you beat the heat:
Watermelon: This bright red wonder fruit is 80% water, so an instant thirst quencher. But better still, it’s high in vitamin C and a good source of vitamin A and antioxidants. It is fat-free and low in sodium and calories. Even the rind can be used to soothe sunburned skin!
Cantaloupe: Not only does it smell heavenly and taste silky smooth, but it’s also high in beta-carotene, a powerful antioxidant. It is a good source of vitamins C and A and is rich in potassium, which promotes the supply of oxygen to the brain.
Berry: Red, black or blue, berries are filled with flavonoids and contain properties similar to aspirin, which reduce inflammation and alleviate the effect of sunburn. Sweet, juicy berries increase blood flow to the skin and decrease sensitivity to light, which helps improve the skin’s appearance. With more daylight hours and time spent in the sun, that’s an important attribute.
Cucumber: Cucumber is known for being cool – as much as 20 degrees cooler than the outside temperature. With almost 96% water content, cucumber not only keeps the body hydrated but also aids in flushing toxins out of the body. Peel of cucumber can also bring relief to sunburned skin.
Celery & Fennel: These greens help your body flush out excess water without causing dehydration. Nutrients in these veggies stimulate the kidneys, causing them to flush out waste and excess fluid from
Mint: This aromatic herb is one of nature’s best coolers. With its high menthol content, it not only relieves the effect of heat on the body but also aids in gastric and digestive disorders. Toss in a few leaves of mint in your green tea or salad, and enjoy its cooling effect.
Tender coconut: Water of a tender coconut is purely
nutritious and wholesome. A tropical favourite, it’s an excellent oral rehydration medium in case of sunstroke or other heat-related ailments. Coconut water and its flesh are a superb source of energy and provide balance of electrolytes, necessary for nerve transmission and muscle contraction.
Iced Tea: Nothing is as refreshing as an iced tea on a hot summer day. But did you know about its health benefits? Studies have shown that the high levels of flavonoids and other substances in tea give it many antioxidant properties. Adding lemon juice, which contains vitamin C and potassium, to iced tea, not only ramps up the flavor, but increases the health benefits as well.
Citrus fruits: Zesty, juicy and delicious, citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruit, tangerine etc., are also loaded with healthy goodness. They’re rich in vitamin C, a good source of minerals and have great medicinal properties for the skin. They are also rich in potassium, a vital nutrient in summer. Our body loses potassium through sweat, which puts us at risk for muscle cramps. Citrus fruits diminish this risk.
Leafy greens: Lettuce, spinach and all other leafy greens contain a significant amount of water. Our body uses the carotenoids in these leafy greens and turns them into vitamin A, which protects our skin from sun damage. They also decrease sensitivity to UV light and mend dry, scaly skin, thereby strengthening the skin’s defenses against damaging rays. Toss the leafy green into a summer salad or wrap them in flat bread to create veggie rolls. Fresh herbs such as mint, lemon or lemon grass will add an interesting tang and aid the cooling process.
Summer Pops: Here’s another twist on using fruits to stay cool. Put those raspberries, papaya and kiwi in a blender with some crushed ice. Or put a pureed fruit mixture into ice-pop molds and put them in the freezer overnight for a frozen fast food treat. Get set, go! Toss the heat out of the window and cherish the coolers.
– Leela Alvares