Seasonal eating. It’s not just the idea that fruits and vegetables taste better and cost less when they are in season. Proponents of seasonal eating believe that in season produce provides the nutrients our bodies need most during that time of year.
Let’s use summer as a topical example. It is the hottest season when we sweat most. It is also the season which grows hydrating cucumbers, melons and berries. More fittingly, the season when we spend lots of time working, playing and exercising outdoors also grows peaches, corn and peas – vegetables packed with carbohydrates that give us energy.
Better tasting, cheaper and healthiest. These are all the advantages summer foods offer, which begs only one question: Which are the best summer foods for wellness?
We must start with the fruit which symbolizes summer itself. Like its cousin the cucumber, watermelon is 96 percent water. That you are able to read this sentence proves that you also know water’s importance in hot weather.
Watermelon’s rosy color comes from lycopene. It is an antioxidant that helps the body block out the same ultraviolet light which causes sunburns and skin cancer. Studies suggest that people who eat lycopene-rich foods year-round benefit best from the antioxidant. Fortunately tomato paste provides an excellent source of lycopene whenever the weather isn’t friendly to watermelon plants.
Grapes are about 82 percent water, so they make a convenient hydrating snack when you haven’t got the time or the napkins to deal with watermelon.
Whether they’re green, red or black, the health advantages of grapes are too many to list. The fruit’s high level of vitamin C boosts the immune system. That helps the body kill off pathogens which thrive in heat and humidity, such as yeast. Grapes are rich in antioxidants that help ward off the free radicals which cause cancer. Those same antioxidants also maintain eye health – a welcome bonus during a season when eyes have to contend with intense sunlight.
The best use for grapes has always been winemaking. If you’re enjoying “grownup juice,” you are also drinking antioxidants which prevent coronary artery disease!
The round red tomato is 95 percent water – but it’s the tomato’s other contents which make it truly exceptional for your health.
Just like similarly colored watermelon flesh, tomatoes are rich in lycopene. In addition to protecting against skin cancer, the antioxidant is often used to treat both high blood pressure and high cholesterol. If you have either of those conditions and plan on taking plenty of exercise to improve them this summer, then tomatoes will make a fitting post-workout snack.
Tomatoes are rich in potassium and vitamin K – two important nutrients which just so happen to get depleted by sweat. Just try and make certain you don’t get all of your tomato intake from eating pizza.
Low in fat. High in carbs, fiber, minerals and vitamins. While high-fructose corn syrup is probably the worst thing to happen to the human diet in all of recorded history, real natural corn is a healthful summer treat.
Carbohydrates are your body’s primary source of energy. They help you digest your food, feel full and maintain lower blood cholesterol, and they fuel your brain, heart and kidneys – all organs which are important every day of the year. The lutein and zeaxanthin both contained in corn also help protect your eyes against damage from sunlight.
Tea doesn’t contain nearly as much caffeine (a diuretic) as coffee. This is why iced tea barely stimulates the body to produce more urine. It provides the body with more hydration than it takes as the result.
Green tea and black tea are both rich in ECGC, a flavenoid which may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, protect against skin cancer, and preserve youthful appearance by slowing the loss of collagen.
And let us not forget the ice component of iced tea. Cold beverages lower your body temperature, which can help protect you against heat-related illness. (There’s little wonder why “lawnmower beer” is an already established concept!)
Is ice cream really a health food? No. Sadly, it is the furthest thing from it. But we know you will eat ice cream this summer anyway. We certainly intend to. So why don’t we acknowledge ice cream’s few health benefits and feel slightly less guilt for it?
Ice cream contains vitamins A, B-6, B-12, C, D and E, as well as plenty of the calcium which keeps bones healthy. The thrombotonin and L-triptophane in ice cream both help to reduce stress, and niacin, thiamine and riboflavin are all essential to good health.
Calhoun Spine & Wellness Center in Calhoun, GA offers nutrition, fitness, meditation and chiropractic services that can help anyone realize their best state of health all year-round. “Winter, spring, summer or fall, all you have to do is call.” We welcome you to schedule an appointment at our clinic any time!