15 May 2012

Take a chill fill

A. Shrikumar

Watermelon are ideal snack options on a hot summer's day. Photo: A. Shrikumar
Watermelon are ideal snack options on a hot summer's day. Photo: A. Shrikumar
It's that time of the year when the mercury soars. Going out in the scorching sun can leave you drained and it is vital to maintain body hydration. Apart from the regular intake of water, doctors recommend natural fruit juices and drinks. They are quick quenchers with ample nutrients and are better than aerated soft drinks with chemical preservatives and artificial flavours. A. Shrikumar looks into the nutritional value and health benefits of some of them.
Palmyra Fruit (Nongu) and Pathaneer
Pathaneer and nongu are fast catching up with the city people. Many kiosks, including government-run ones, have sprung up along the main roads. It tastes good and is light on the pocket.
Nutritional value: Kal nongus (ripe fruits) and pathaneer are rich in carbohydrate and moisture content. They provide plenty of minerals such as calcium, phosphorous and iron, along with fibres and proteins to the body. The fruit contains Vitamins A, B and C in the form of ascorbic acid. It is perfect for the figure-conscious as it contains zero fat.
Health benefits: The pulp is highly nutritious and the fibrous outer layer mitigates body heat. Application of pathaneer on the body cures boils, rashes and dermatitis.
Best known as the base of salads, cucumber helps you instantly regain lost energy. It is also a great snack.
Nutritional value: Cucumber has 96 per cent water that is more nutritious than regular water. Its low calorie content makes it an ideal diet for people looking to lose weight. Vitamins such as thiamine, riboflavin, niacin and Vit.B9, calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, zinc and iron are the major constituents.
Health benefits: Extremely helpful in keeping the body hydrated and regulating body temperature. It also helps in flushing out toxins, controls blood pressure, is beneficial for teeth and gums, promotes joint health, and stimulates hair and nail growth.
The juicy, red slices of watermelon are ideal snack options on a hot summer's day.
Nutritional value: A wide range of minerals like fluoride, iron, sodium, magnesium and potassium, optimum sugar and dietary fibres, and also traces of vital vitamins are present. These strengthen the immune system and keep infections at bay. Watermelon is also a concentrated source of carotenoids, which prevent the formation of cancer cells.
Health benefits: Rich in antioxidants, watermelons can neutralise free radicals in body and reduce the risk of colon cancer and heart attacks. It reduces airway spasms in asthma patients. Beta carotene in watermelon sharpens eyesight. Apart from regulating salt content in the blood, it also eases inflammations and prevents diabetes.
Tender coconut
One of the most easily available cooling options on the roadside, tender coconut tops the list. Though the price has increased, it continues to be the first pick on a hot day. Nutritional value: Both the flesh and water of tender coconut contain high moisture. Good amount of protein, fat, sugar, dietary fibre, potassium, iron and Vitamin C are also present, apart from the calories that can keep you brisk round the clock.
Health benefits: Keeps the body cool, kills intestinal worms, checks urinary infections, promotes growth, cures malnourishment and is effective in the treatment of kidney and urethral stones.
There's nothing like our good old home-made ‘mor' to beat the heat. Best served chilled in earthen pots with a hint of pudina, lemon, coriander leaves and cumin seeds, buttermilk definitely lifts your spirits on a hot day.
Nutritional value: Replete with the most absorbable form of Vitamin A, E and K, lauric acid and lecithin. It is also a vital source of the mineral selenium, has high anti-oxidant content and saturated fats, protein, calcium and iodine.
Health benefits: Primarily cures thyroid and adrenal problems, fungal infections, regulates cholesterol metabolism, protects arteries, boosts immunity and builds muscles. It also has strong anti-tumour and anti-cancer properties. Is a quick source of energy that promotes brain and nerve development and protects against gastrointestinal infections.
Expert Talk:
Dr. G.P. Rengarajan, Homeopathic Physician: “During summers, the need for glucose and water content in the body increases. Natural drinks go a long way in mitigating body heat and restoring salt balance. Moreover, drinking natural liquids cleanses the blood and eliminates toxins.”
C. Tharanya, Dietician, Talwalkars Better Value Fitness Centre: “For people who do heavy work, it is very important to drink water or fruit juices as it replenishes the carbohydrate content. A balanced diet plan should necessarily include natural drinks like buttermilk and lemon juices.”

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