Plus, eating seasonally is an important environmental choice too – that cucumber I ate in winter was either flown in, or grown in an unnaturally heated environment. This is a bountiful time of year for British produce, and it makes sense to enjoy all the cooling, refreshing things on offer. Foods that require large quantities of sunshine to flourish usually contain high levels of potassium which in turn has a cooling effect on the body. We tend to eat less at this time of year too, and graze throughout the day rather than have the bigger, heartier meals that require slow digestion throughout the winter.
1. Salads – Raw foods are naturally the most cooling foods on offer. The fresh, cleansing crunch of a delicious salad helps to cool the body. Green foods are considered the most cooling of all, so opt for lots of salad greens, green peppers and cucumbers.
2. Melon – Melons are 90% water, so they hydrate the body whilst being a delicious treat. They make a lovely snack on a hot summer’s day, the perfect pudding and a tasty addition to yoghurt lassis.
3. Cucumber – Being mostly water, cucumber is the ultimate cooling vegetable. Add it to salads and drinks, and rub it on your skin to soothe and cool heat-irritated areas. Try refreshing cucumber soup served chilled.
4. Yoghurt – Butter is the only dairy product that has a warming effect on the body. Yoghurt is cooling, and a good quality organic live yoghurt helps to keep internal bacteria healthy. Try making refreshing lassis – the Indian yoghurt drink – with mango or banana.
5. Green vegetables – Getting your quota of leafy greens is good for you at any time of year, but green vegetables have the highest water content so it makes sense to enjoy as much as you can during the hotter months. According to Aruyvedic theory, bitter is the most cooling of the tastes, so opt for bitter greens such as dandelion, kale, watercress and chicory.
6. Garlic – By increasing blood circulation, garlic helps you sweat which in turn is cooling to the body.
7. Seaweed – Kelp and other seaweeds are considered in Traditional Chinese Medicine to be cooling foods. Add to soups and smoothies and sprinkle on salads: packed with minerals and naturally detoxifying, seaweed is truly a superfood.
8. Mint – This cooling herb can be used to make herb teas – add a few leaves to boiling water and leave to infuse before straining and drinking – or try cucumber and mint water. Whilst tea and coffee are dehydrating and warming for the body, herbal teas can actually cool and refresh. Ice cold water may seem refreshing but drinking it at room temperature is actually the best way to stay cool as the body doesn’t need to adjust its internal thermostat dramatically.
9. Onions – Like garlic, onions improve circulation thus encouraging sweating. For this reason, they play a big role in the diets of most hot countries.
10. Curries – Though it may not be your first thought on a hot day, a spicy curry actually encourages the body to cool itself by increasing sweating. That’s why some of the hottest countries in the world have the spiciest cuisines. In India, they favour the holy trinity of garlic, onions and ginger to promote the body’s natural cooling responses. So throw a few extra chilli peppers in your dishes to reap the benefit of nature’s own cooling system!