Healthy Foods for the Summer

Healthy Foods for the Summer | Dr. Ali Ghahary

When it’s warm out, the last thing anyone wants to do is stand over a hot oven or stove cooking – and the warmer the weather, the more tempting it can be to want to grab something quick and easy, which might not always be the healthiest. For example, getting something from a fast food restaurant, which could be loaded with grease, bad carbohydrates and sugar – all things you want to avoid to ensure optimal health and reduce the risk of potential health problems like weight gain, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

Before we dive into the topic of food, it’s a good time to remind everyone about the importance of drinking water. Water is always something you should have on hand (and it’s recommended that you drink at least 8 glasses per day), but it’s all the more important to keep yourself hydrated in warmer weather to avoid things like heat stroke, sun stroke and dehydration. Drinking water maintains the balance of fluid in your body which helps with things like absorption, digestion, circulation, saliva creation, transporting nutrients, and maintaining body temperature. You can find more about the health benefits of water by clicking here.

Summer is one of the best seasons to find fresh products. Fruit and vegetables, especially. As mentioned, water is something everyone should be drinking – but what you might not know is watermelon actually 92% water, making it a great alternative to H20 and a delicious thirst quencher. You might also not be aware of the benefits of tomatoes. It might sound strange, but consuming tomatoes can actually help protect your skin from sunburn. Still, you shouldn’t completely rely on eating tomatoes to keep your skin protected. If you’re going to be out in the sun, Dr. Ali Ghahary recommends applying an SPF 15 or 30 to prevent things like sunburn and skin cancer, wearing sunglasses to keep your eyes protected, as well as a large brimmed hat to protect your scalp. The sun can do serious damage and its effects can be long-lasting and sometimes life-altering. On the subject of skin cancer, did you also know that drinking a single cup of coffee might actually reduce that risk? According to a 2007 study done by the European Journal of Cancer Prevention, individuals who drank one cup of coffee per day reduces their risk of non-melanoma skin cancer by as much as 10%. To keep cool, order (or make) your coffee iced. That being said, as many pros as there might be to coffee, it also has its cons. If you’re someone who suffers from insomnia, for example, then coffee might not be right for you. You can find out more about the risks and benefits of caffeine consumption here. As an alternative, some people also prefer drinking iced tea.

Then there are blueberries. Another great summer fruit, and high in things like fibre, folate, potassium, as well as vitamin C and vitamin B6. They can improve bone strength, heart health, skin health, as well as blood pressure, and can also help manage things like diabetes, boost the mood, and even prevent cancer. Blueberries can be great consumed as a standalone fruit, or mixed into things like Greek yogurt, oatmeal, or blended into a healthy smoothie. If you’re on a blood thinner, it’s suggested that you speak with your physician or pharmacist if you plan on increasing your intake of blueberries, as they’re also high in vitamin K, which can affect blood clotting.

With warmer weather, you’re likely to either be invited to more barbecues or have more barbecues of your own. That doesn’t necessarily mean the foods you’re consuming are healthy, however. One thing to keep in mind when it comes to grilling is to make sure you’re not charring your food. Regular consumption of meat or other foods that are well-done can actually increase your risk of developing pancreatic cancer by as much as 60%. When foods are cooked at such high temperatures, chemicals known as heterocyclic amines (or HCAs) form. These chemicals then lead to changes in your body’s DNA which can develop into cancer. As hamburgers and hot dogs are also two of the most commonly grilled foods, so is the use of condiments like mayonnaise, mustard, ketchup, and relish, as well as butter. However, mayonnaise is high in fat, and ketchup can be high in sugar. Rather than using these condiments, try swapping them for things like salsa, and replace butter with olive oil.

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