Whether you are more or less active during the warm summer months, it is important to keep your body hydrated and well nourished. Here are five easy, breezy ways to eat healthy and take advantage of the delicious – and nutritious – whole, fresh foods that are abundant and affordable this time of year.
1. Drink Up
Good hydration is essential year round, and it’s even more important in the hot summer months. Drinking at least 8 to 10 glasses of water a day helps keep your body cool, your memory sharp and your mood stable. You can also up your fluid intake with iced tea and coffee, each of which packs an extra health punch.
Tea is rich in antioxidants called flavonoids, and drinking it freshly brewed will maximize the benefits. Sipping a daily cup of coffee may lower your risk of developing skin cancer. In a 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.
2. Make Friends with Fiber
Fiber helps us feel full, keeps us regular and is often found in foods that are naturally rich in vitamins and antioxidants. A study in the Journal of Nutrition also suggests that eating more fiber may help prevent weight gain or even promote weight loss. When participants in the two-year study boosted their fiber by 8 grams for every 1,000 calories, they lost about four and a half pounds. Aim for 25 to 35 grams per day and look for fresh, brightly colored farm stand favorites like spinach, tomatoes, radishes and berries. Just one cup of raspberries has 8 grams of fiber!
Aim for 25 to 35 grams per day and look for fresh, brightly colored farm stand favorites like spinach, tomatoes, radishes and berries. Just one cup of raspberries has 8 grams of fiber!
3. Get Fresh
Summer is the perfect time to add more produce to your diet. Hitting the local farmer’s market not only means you’re getting the freshest fruits and vegetables – but many summer favorites have added health benefits. Sweet corn contains two antioxidants – lutein and zeaxanthin – that may help form macular pigment that filters out some of the sun's damaging rays. The same antioxidants may also help lower your risk of developing age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in people over age 60.
Consuming more of the lycopene found in tomatoes may protect your skin from sunburn. In one study, participants who were exposed to UV light had almost 50 percent less skin reddening after they ate two and a half tablespoons of tomato paste in addition to their regular diet, for 10 to 12 weeks.
4. Keep Your Cool
When it’s hot and humid, lighten up with foods that have a high water content. Most fruits and vegetables are 80 to 95 percent water, which helps cool you down and keep you satisfied on fewer calories. Look for seasonal favorites like peaches, grapes, cucumber, zucchini and raw greens. Watermelon is 92% water and also provides a healthy dose of skin-protecting lycopene.
5. Stress Less
Constantly worrying about sticking to a strict eating plan can put a damper on summer fun. If you have a vacation or celebration on the calendar, have a little of what you love instead of depriving yourself of seasonal treats. Trying to satisfy a craving with an inadequate alternative can actually lead to overeating. So give yourself permission to relax the rules and enjoy everything in moderation.