Cooling foods for hot summer days

Tip: Beat the summer heat by loading up on foods that cool you naturally from within. 

By the Chef Marshall O’Brien Group

After months of waiting for the arrival of summer, don’t let the heat drive you indoors! Eating naturally cooling foods helps you stay comfortable on even the hottest days. Fruits and vegetables high in water content, cooling spices, smaller portions, lighter preparation methods and smart hydration all will help you stay cool as a cucumber through the dog days of summer.

Cooling Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and vegetables provide important nutrients and fiber all year long; but during the summer, they offer the added bonus of helping to keep you cool in the heat. Evaporative cooling – also known as sweating – is your body’s most effective means of lowering core temperature. The hotter it gets outside, the more water you lose through sweat. These fruits and veggies contain the highest concentrations of water and optimize your body for keeping cool:

  • Broccoli
  • Celery
  • Cucumber
  • Grapefruit
  • Melon
  • Peaches
  • Strawberries
  • Sweet peppers
  • Tomatoes
  • Watermelon
  • Zucchini

Cooling Spices

Spices like mint and fennel don’t just leave a cooling taste in your mouth – they actually help cool your body from the inside out. And while it may seem counter-intuitive, eating spicy peppers causes your body to sweat, which helps to bring your body temperature down – one good reason spicy peppers are commonly eaten in warmer climates. Add these cooling spices to your favorite dishes, including salads, and as flavoring for your favorite summer beverages:

  • Mint
  • Fennel
  • Cilantro
  • Dill
  • Cumin
  • Spicy peppers

Keep It Light

Our bodies generate heat through metabolism, so digesting calorie-rich foods – especially those high in fat, which takes longer to digest - increases your body temperature. You may crave a cold ice cream cone to beat summer’s heat, but the initial cooling effect is negated by excess heat generated through digestion. The same is true for greasy fried or sautéed meats. Eat smaller, more frequent meals and use these lighter preparation methods to stay cooler during the summer months:

  • Baking
  • Steaming
  • Broiling
  • Grilling

Smart Hydration

You say nothing cools you like a cold beer on a hot summer day? Not so! Alcohol is a diuretic, which increases your water loss and puts you on the road to dehydration. Keep cool and hydrate with flavored water, coconut water, fruit chillers, smoothies, chilled soups or nature’s best hydrator – plain water. A cold drink before you exercise in the heat will help you stay cooler throughout your workout. Surprisingly, even a hot cup of tea can help cool you down – drinking hot beverages stimulates receptors in your stomach that promote sweating, your body’s most efficient cooling mechanism.

Beat the Heat Naturally!

Don’t let the heat zap summer’s fun for you. For a festive and cooling summer dish, try Chef Marshall’s Red, White and Blue Salad. Brimming with water-rich fruits and veggies and cooling mint, it is perfect for your July 4th barbeque or on any hot summer day. Choose foods that cool you from within so you can spend your summer enjoying the beautiful weather, not running from the heat.

You will love the way you feel!

Chef Marshall O’BrienThe Chef Marshall O’Brien Group is a dedicated assembly of professionals based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, committed to the goal of using nutrition to get kids and families to lead happier, healthier lives.