The Summers are here to stay… and as a large part of India reels under the wave of high temperatures, most of us find solace in air conditioners and cold processed foods. Summers make us more susceptible to eating sugar laden drinks and ice-cream that are not only low in nutrition but also add too many unnecessary calories. Also these high sugar drinks and desserts only add to dehydration instead of correcting the fluid and electrolyte balance.
A natural, healthy and smart way to cope with the summers would be to increase the intake of healthy fruits and vegetable with lots of clean water. Nature brings in all these vegetables in summers to improve our immune system and keep the system cool and clean. So those who are planning to make an effort to lose weight this summer or get fitter should add these veggies in their diet. In the process they can stock on micronutrients and hydrate their bodies. I have listed below a few humble vegetables that can be used extensively to combat the harsh summers.
Cucumber belongs to the gourd or squash family, and in scientific circles is referred to as a fruit.Cucumbers are your best bet in summers as they are 96 per cent water and are eaten in raw green state. They can fill you up and hydrate you naturally.They contain vitamin C and silica which can aid tissue growth and has skin cleansing properties.Cucumber can be eaten as a snack or used as ingredients in salads, sandwiches and soups.Cucumber has negligible calories making it a potent vegetable for weight loss.
Broad beans are also known as Fava beans and they are one of the most common types of summer vegetables.Green beans are an excellent source of vitamin C and vitamin A, as well as bone-building vitamin K which aids in blood clotting too. Green beans are a good source of heart-healthy fibre that helps lower cholesterol levels. High fibre in beans makes them filling and keeps your appetite and weight in check.To get the most nutrition out of your broad beans, you have to steam them gently. They can also be used in salads and stews or served as a side dish.Green beans make for an excellent dish in the summers as they are light on the stomach.
Locally known as “Lauki” (Hindi) this veggie is not that popular in the western world.Lauki is consumed in majority of the Indian families because of the low price tag it carries in the vegetable market and its wide availability.It provides vitamin C and some B vitamins, trace elements and minerals like iron, sodium and potassium.Bottle gourd has cooling and calming ability due to its good water content (96% of lauki is water).It is a great vegetable to eat in summers as it has the ability to prevent heat strokes and recover the water lost due to perspiration.Bottle gourd can aid in improving liver function and to fight constipation, as it is fiber rich.
A common vegetable, tomatoes are an essential part of Indian cooking. Tomatoes can be used to make curries and dips, added to sandwiches and salads and eaten as an add-on with every possible meal.Tomatoes contain all four major carotenoids: alpha- and beta-carotene, lutein, and lycopene and are one of the richest sources of antioxidants .The antioxidant activity of tomatoes makes it a potent agent to prevent many forms of cancers.Intake of tomatoes has long been linked to heart health. Fresh tomatoes and tomato extracts have been shown to help lower total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides.Tomatoes add taste and flavor and can brighten any dish without adding too much oil or spices.
Fresh lime water can be the most nutritious drink this summer and a great thirst quencher.Lemon juice helps to cure problems related to indigestion and constipation. Add a few drops of lemon on your dish), and it will aid in digestion.Lemon acts as a blood purifier and a cleansing agent, so a good drink after lunch or dinner is fresh lemon juice. The two biggest health benefits of lemons are its strong antibacterial, antiviral, and immune-boosting powers and its use as a weight loss aid.Lemons contain many substances–notably citric acid, calcium, magnesium, vitamin C, bioflavonoids and pectin–that promote immunity and fight infection.Adding lemon juice to green leafy vegetables can improve the absorption of iron.An early morning serving of lime water can help in breaking down adipose tissue and aid in weight loss.
Pumpkin, though easily available, rich in nutrition and fairly cheap has never got the recognition of a nutritious and versatile vegetable.It is one of the very low calorie vegetables, rich in dietary fiber, anti-oxidants, minerals and vitamins. Hence pumpkin is advised for weight watchers and for cholesterol reduction.Pumpkin is a storehouse of many anti-oxidant vitamins such as vitamin-A, vitamin-C and vitamin-E..It also provides many B-complex vitamins making it a rich source of micro nutrients and anticancer properties.Pumpkin can be cooked as a vegetable dish, used in soups and broths, or can be baked to make pumpkin bread and pie.
So savour these and many more vegetables, but do remember to eat them raw or mildly cooked with little oil and spices so that their goodness is intact.