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30 Cool Food to beat the summer heat

1 Cardamom (Elaichi)
Look no further than your cup of elachi chai for an instant cooldown. Cardamom, an original Indian spice, is commonly used in Ayurveda for almost any ailment from halitosis to digestion and has wonderful detoxifying properties to effectively cool down even the most hot-headed days. Africa, jealous much?

2. Peaches
Dried peaches are advisable for those who are anaemic and over-fatigued," says New Delhi-based nutritionist, Dr Sonia Kakar. They also fight high cholesterol. Eat them with the skin for breakfast to get your requirement of vitamin A, vitamin B2 and potassium and everything will be just peachy!

3. Apricot
If you're prone to skin breakouts or acne in the summer, apricot's your man.. err fruit. "They provide the body with iron, vitamin C, potassium and fibre," says Dr Kakar. Pack a handful to the gym and enjoy them as a great pre- or post-workout snack.

4. Mango
Chilled mangoes are the juiciest way to cool off, but if you're looking for a bit of spice, try this: Unripe mangoes are a rich source of pectin and when steamed and juiced with cumin (jeera) and salt, they provide an excellent remedy for heat strokes and exhaustion in summers.

5. Butter milk
Butter milk can kick diet soda's ass. "It is one of the healthiest bracers in hot summer months as it is the residue left behind after the fat in milk has been churned to produce butter," says Mumbai based nutritionist Niti Desai. Glug a glass a day to avoid dehydration and avoid digestion issues.

6. Watermelon
There's a reason this fruit holds a lot of water to its name: Super-sized and super-packed with nutritional goodies such as iron, potassium, beta carotene and vitamin C, watermelon has 95 per cent water content. "It also helps treat kidney, bladder and digestive problems and can be drunk as juice or directly eaten," says Desai.

7. Corn
Nothing elevates work stress more than a malfunctioning air conditioner. So pop some corn. It's a good source of pantothenic acid, which provides vitamin B to lower stress levels. Dr Kakar recommends boiling corn for a snacker or a lunch takeaway as it lowers cholesterol levels and is high in essential carbs.

8. Soybeans
Traditional Chinese medicine proves soybeans are great natural coolants. "Rich in protein, they help prevent nasty summer colds," says Dr Kakar. Add some to caramel custards, kheer or payasam to lower bad cholesterol levels. Soy far, Soy cool!

9. Oyster
Even if the world's not your oyster, make this shellfish a part of your summer meals. Already established as an aphrodisiac, oysters contain phytochemicals that wipe out the toxins that encourage sweating. But heed these pearls of wisdom: They're best consumed fresh and should not be bought from stores where they're sold in bags and bowls.

10. Gooseberry (Amla)
Eat enough and this gooseberry might give you goosebumps instead of sweat stains. "Not only is amla a great refresher, it'll also reverse the ageing effects of the strong Indian sun and give you added stamina for gym sessions," says Ritika Samaddar, dietician, Max Healthcare. "It strengthens the heart, hair and different glands in the body, as well and can be drunk at any time of the day."

11. Grapefruit
Here's a reason to pick up some grapefruit instead of the classic orange: Its low sodium content and high fat-blasting enzymes help aid weight loss. This 18th century hybrid fruit also sports high concentrations of reservatrol, a compound that boasts of anti-aging, anti-cancer and anti-inflammation properties. Its high water content will keep you hydrated throughout the hot summer months.

12. Muskmelon
"Muskmelon's high water content helps prevent heatrelated disorders," says Samaddar. Freeze muskmelon cubes and blend with milk, OJ and sugar for a summer drink.

13. Bananas
Spicy lunches giving a heart burn as hot as hell? Have a banana split minus the ice cream and chocolate sauce. The potassium content in this summer fruit has a cooling effect on the stomach and also aids in digesting that hot butter chicken curry. It also cuts stress levels, so munch one if you've got a heavy deadline coming up.

14. Capsicum
Cap off summer lethargy with capsicum-it is excellent for cardiovascular health and lowering BP levels. It also up metabolism levels and is a great aid in the war against weight gain. Last, but not least, it helps fight off diabetes, a disease has that been on the up, especially for Indian men.

15. Mushroom
Vegetarians can now breeze through their protein content with some fungi. Mushrooms are a great source of selenium, animal protein and contain zero cholesterol and fats. They're also low on carbs, so chop some up in your sandwiches and give the meat a rest!

16. Asparagus
Not only does it have a phallic structure, "it also contains high levels of folic acid and calcium that can help reduce birth defects,"says Samaddar. Try to have these stems steamed so they don't lose flavour and vitamins.

17. Bottle gourd (Lauki)
Here's to gourd health! If your stomach piping is facing some stoppage due to water shortage, eat some lauki--easy to digest, it is effective against constipation and other digestive disorders to have your plumbing up and running in no time! It also delays premature greying in all areas.

18. Sugarcane
Sink your teeth into a juicy stem to fight off post-lunch sleepiness when the sun is at its fi ercest. Not only does its high sugar content provide a great energy boost, it also helps strengthen the gastrointestinal system. A glass of sugarcane juice is enough to fortify a meal skipped at any time during the day.

19. Apple
An apple a day and you know what they say… Not only do apples help fortify hydration levels, they are also an excellent source of fibre and iron. "Don't peel the skin away; it contains six times more antioxidants than the flesh!" warns Dr Kakar.

20. Lychee (Litchi)
"We don't realise it, but the fluctations in temperature between day and night in summer are a major cause of low energy levels," says Dr Kakar. "This in turn opens the body to a host of diseases and aches, all of which can be overcome by eating lychees"- high in water content, they are a powerful coolant and also help prevent internal blood clots and severe cell damage. Lychees have also been proven to reduce strokes to up to 50 per cent in heart patients," adds Dr Kakar.

21. Lemonade
Adage or not, lemonade or nimbu paani, is still one of the healthiest and most refreshing summer drinks from the time of your grandparents and beyond. Freshly prepared, this coolant lowers your risk of cancer and heart diseases and helps cure respiratory problems. Sip through a straw to avoid damaging your teeth-its acidic properties can ruin the outer enamel.

22. Tuna Fish
There's nothing fishy about this study: Eating tuna five or more times per week can reduce risk of heat strokes by 52 per cent. It also contains essential omega-3 fatty acids and is easily available. Stick to the fresh variety over the tinned as it has better nutrition value, which is lost when the fish is canned.

23. Pomegranate
If you're looking to get ripped, swig a glass of pomegranate juice post your workout. The reason: Excessive sweating in the gym during the summer retards the muscle-recovery process due to lack of fluids. Pomegranates aid muscle recovery, so make 'em your little red pills to stronger pillars and steer clear of nasty steroids.

24. Cucumber
The phrase "cool as a cucumber" is not without merit-this vegetable's high water content reduces heat and inflammation. Adding a crunchy cool cucumber to your salads is a good way to increase your fibre intake as it comes naturally prepackaged with the extra fluid you need when consuming more fibre."Grind cucumber and add mint leaves for a refreshing drink," suggests Samaddar.

25. Raspberries
Raspberries are also high in beta-carotene and work well for the convalescent, over-fatigued or depressed . Sub sugar with fresh raspberries in a creamy millet porridge for a naturally sweetened breakfast treat.

26. Olives
The health benefits of olives are not Greek to you. Born of the Mediterranean basin (where people are reputed to live the longest) olives are easy to digest and therefore, ideal for warding off summer diseases. "They help strengthen the immune system and also lower blood pressure," says Samaddar says." Add finely chopped olives to your favourite tuna or chicken salad recipe to add flavour."

27. Basil
Fresh juice from basil leaves acts as a natural cleanser and sunscreen for your face. (Drink it, don't smear it over your face and roam the streets like a weird alien.) The easiest way to eat these leaves is just add them as garnishing to a pizza, soups and curries or throw them in a stir-fry.

28. Coconut
"Coconut helps protect the body from harmful free radicals that promote premature ageing and degenerative diseases. It relieves stress on the pancreas, therefore reducing symptoms associated with pancreatitis," adds Dr Kakar. Freshen up with a glass of coconut water to stay hydrated and younger, longer.

29. Mint (Pudina)
An online research and an organic living guide, The Global Centre, found that mint can be the best remedy for bad breath. It can also serve as a cooling spice, especially in the dog days of summer. Add mint to your salad or beverage, such as tea or lemonade, to add that extra cooling effect to your taste buds.

30. Papaya
It's papaya to the rescue for you-its vitamin E content minimises the formation of wrinkles and delays the ageing process. The papain enzyme works as a great skin renewal agent by removing dead skin and revealing fresh, glowing skin. Already headed to the grocer's, aren't you?

 

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