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Summer Time Diet Tips


Think Water and Rainbows!

Yes, the kids are back in school.  But that does not mean summer is over.  August and September are actually when most of us experience the peak of summer heat, and enjoying some of natureís finest diet foods.  Itís a good time to review some great diet tips for summer.

Water Ė Stay Hydrated

It is the elixir of life.  But most of us donít get enough water.  It is easy to get dehydrated when our summer activities distract us from the heat and our thirst.  Water is naturally the best thirst-quencher, and it adds no calories!

We usually drink when we are thirsty, but did you know that by the time you feel thirst, you are already dehydrated?  In addition, thirst sensation diminishes with age, so we need to be conscious of these things and drink often. 

What should you drink if not water?  Well, there are plenty of nutritious liquids to choose from like fruit and vegetable juices, milk or broths.  Be aware that caffeinated, carbonated, alcoholic and high-sugar drinks can act as diuretics and are not great for hydration.  Certain foods can also add fluid to your diet.  At meal or snack time, think of juicy nutritious foods like gelatin, yogurt, melon, and tomatoes. 

The Rainbow

Summer is the best time to enjoy natureís most colorful diet foods.  When you think about meeting your fruit and veggie needs, think of a rainbow.  Fruits and vegetables come in all colors of the spectrum, and each color adds different nutrients to our diets. 

Red fruits and veggies contain lycopene, which may help reduce risk of several types of cancer.  Anthocyanins in strawberries, raspberries, red grapes act as powerful antioxidants that protect cells from damage. Antioxidants are linked with keeping our hearts healthy, too.  Keep fresh or canned diced tomatoes on hand for a low-cal, nutritious toss-in for any dish.

Orange and yellow foods usually get their color from carotenoids.  Beta-carotene is good for the eyes and mucus membranes.  Carotenoid-rich foods also can reduce risk of cancer, heart disease and can improve immune system function.  Try sliced mangoes or peaches as toppings for waffles, pancakes, yogurt or pudding.

Many green fruits and vegetables contain luteinLutein works with another chemical, zeaxanthin (found in corn, red peppers, oranges, grapes and egg yolks) to help keep eyes healthy. Together these chemicals may reduce risk of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration.  Leafy greens are good sources of folate, which keeps hearts healthy and helps reduce risk of birth defects.  Try roasted peppers as a side dish with any meal. Spinach adds great color and texture to salads.

Blue and purple foods contain natural plant pigments called anthocyanins.  Anthocyanins act as powerful antioxidants, protecting cells from damage. They may help reduce risk of cancer, stroke and heart disease.  Try berries as a quick cereal topper or mix some into a green salad.

White fruits and vegetables can be good sources of potassium, and they may contain health-promoting chemicals, which may help lower cholesterol and blood pressure and help reduce risk of stomach cancer and heart disease.  Try a frozen banana, or chop cauliflower into your next salad.

So go enjoy the sunshine.  But donít forget the water your body craves!  And go ahead, sample several every day from the rainbow of foods nature provides for our summer smorgasbord.