Summer Friendly Foods

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Summer Friendly Foods- It’s that amazing time of year when fresh produce abounds. We change our wardrobe during the summer to stay cool, but did you know that you should also change your diet? Being outside exposed to the sun and sweating from the heat can put you at risk for dehydration and vitamin deficiencies. But the solution is fairly simple and tasty too.

Watermelon is around 90% water, which makes it useful for staying hydrated in the summer. It can also satisfy a sweet tooth with its natural sugars. Watermelon also contains antioxidants. These substances can help remove molecules known as free radicals, or reactive species, from the body. The body produces free radicals during natural processes, such as metabolism. They can also develop through smoking, air pollution, stress, and other environmental pressures. If too many free radicals stay in the body, oxidative stress can occur. This can result in cell damage and may lead to a range of diseases, such as cancer and heart disease. The body can remove some free radicals naturally, but dietary antioxidants support this process. Below are some of the ways antioxidants and other nutrients in watermelon may help protect a person’s health.

Corn contains a variety of B vitamins, as well as potassium. The latter mineral supports healthy blood pressure, heart function, muscle contractions, prevents muscle cramps, and helps maintain muscle mass. Corn also supplies about 10 times more vitamin A than other grains. In addition to protecting against cognitive decline, vitamin A supports the immune system and helps to form the mucous membranes in your respiratory tract. Stronger membranes form better protective barriers to keep germs out of your bloodstream. Another health benefit of eating corn: you get a dose of insoluble fiber, which isn’t broken down and absorbed into the bloodstream. Insoluble fiber stays in the GI tract, increases stool bulk, and helps to push waste through your system. This prevents constipation, reduces the risk of hemorrhoids, and may help lower colon cancer risk. Corn’s fiber may also help support weight management by increasing post-meal feelings of fullness.

In case you were wondering, a tomato is technically a fruit because it’s seed-bearing and develops from the ovary of a flowering plant. (Botanically speaking, vegetables consist of other plant parts, like roots, leaves, and stems.) But when it comes to nutrition, tomatoes —along with seedy cucumbers and zucchini—are categorized as vegetables. That’s due in part to their lower carb and sugar contents: A medium tomato provides just 22 calories, and about 5 grams of total carb, with 3 as sugar and 1.5 as fiber. But this low-calorie, low-carb package is chock-full of nutrients and has been linked to a variety of health benefits. Here are seven, along with some simple ways to incorporate more tomatoes into your everyday meals and snacks.

Iced Tea
An iced pick-me-up is a great way to start your summer mornings. Better yet: drinking a single cup of coffee daily may lower your risk of developing skin cancer. In one study of more than 93,000 women, published in the European Journal of Cancer Prevention, those who drank one cup of caffeinated coffee a day reduced their risk of developing nonmelanoma skin cancer by about 10 percent. And the more they drank up to about 6 cups or so per day-the lower their risk. Decaf didn’t seem to offer the same protection.

Iced Coffee
Sure, a tall glass of iced tea on a hot day is refreshing, but did you know it might also do your body good? Studies show if you drink tea regularly, you may lower your risk of Alzheimer’s and diabetes, plus have healthier teeth and gums and stronger bones. How? Tea is rich in a class of antioxidants called flavonoids. Regardless of the variety-black, green, oolong, white, or herbal-maximize the power of tea’s flavonoids by drinking it freshly brewed. If you want to keep a batch of cold tea in your refrigerator, “add a little lemon juice,” recommends Jeffrey Blumberg, Ph.D., director of the Antioxidants Research Laboratory at the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University in Boston. The citric acid and vitamin C in that squeeze of lemon or lime, or orange help preserve the flavonoids.

Butter Milk
You’ve probably had buttermilk before in buttermilk pancakes, biscuits, or ranch dressing. The tangy, creamy liquid is perfect in many recipes. It’s also filled with some surprising health benefits. While buttermilk sounds like a high-fat drink, it’s actually the opposite. Buttermilk was originally made from milk that was leftover after making butter. Churning milk removed the fat by converting it to butter. The churning process left the milk in the churn just a little sour, full of bacteria that are surprisingly good for you. The end result was a versatile liquid, rich in protein and perfect for baking. Dairy farmers have been using buttermilk for centuries, and it’s considered a healthy, useful dairy byproduct today.