During summer we all eat different from the rest of the year. High temperatures, holidays, and a lot of outdoor activities require an adapted eating routine. We are also usually less motivated to cook during the summer, both because of interrupted schedules and higher temperatures that make turning on the oven seem miserable.
It can be really easy to turn to quick and easy (but usually unhealthy!) to-go foods to solve our summer meal problems. But that is the quickest way to lose that summer body -- and get into bad health habits! To combat this, we suggest having quick and easy summer foods on hand that don’t require much preparation but will save you from the temptation to just get take-out again.
First, the summer brings extra health factors to take into consideration when picking healthy snacks in summer.
Obviously, we all sweat more in the summer because of the heat. This means we need to drink more (water...not other beverages!) or eat foods with high water content to replace our lost body liquid.
We can also become dehydrated in the summer due to loss of electrolytes as well as water. These are the minerals responsible for the water levels in our body. Foods containing electrolytes (which are sodium, phosphorus, potassium and chloride) are very important. Electrolytes not only are involved in maintaining the body water content but also in things like blood pressure, nerve signal transmission and muscle contraction.
We spend lots of hours outdoors in summer. This means our skin is exposed to possibly harmful UV radiation, which can lead to a host of problems including skin cancer.
The good news is that you can actually do something with the right foods to protect your skin, which is called endogenous photoprotection. This is a biochemical process that helps organisms to cope with damage of the skin caused by sunlight. Endogenous means from within, so in our case with the right foods.
Of course, proper sun block is mandatory to protect against sunburn, but foods containing special micronutrients can also help to fight oxidative damage and protect from cancer.
Dietary sun protection is provided by so-called phytochemicals, which are chemicals produced by plants. Those phytochemicals in general have positive effects on our body (e.g.: carotenoids, tocopherols, ascorbate, flavonoids) Omega-3 fatty acids also help to protect the skin.
You can find them in fresh fruit and vegetables (preferably orange-red colored ones like berries, carrots, mangos) but also in red wine and dark chocolate. Foods high in omega-3 are fatty fish, walnuts or chia seeds for example.
With these extra challenges in mind, let’s jump right into the “healthy summer snack pool” and get ideas on how to snack while provide optimal benefits for your body and enjoy the taste and the summer. In each different food category, we will pick our favorite snack to help you take the guesswork out of what to eat.
One of the best parts about summer is all the fresh, juicy fruit!. there are many fruits to choose from, so choosing from a variety of colors will help you get a range of vitamins, nutrients and antioxidants. Fruit also has a high water content so it will help you to stay hydrated.
On top of that it helps hydrate your body with over 90% of water content and with only 30 kcal/100g is will not put in danger your bikini body. This fruit is our summer star.
Other great choices are: Berries, pineapple, pomegranate and mango.
Have you ever heard one say: “Man, yesterday I’ve overdone it with veggies!” No, because you can't have too much of them! For some people, veggies are preferable over fruit because they don't contain sugar. Sugars in fruit are considered healthy sugars (because they are not refined), but some special diets like the ketogenic diet require people to avoid all sugars, including fruit sugars. if the sugar content in fruit has nothing to do with unhealthy, refined sugar, this could be a concern for people who are for example on a ketogenic diet.
Okami’s Top Summer Snack Pick - Broccoli: This dark green superfood belongs to the family of cruciferous vegetables, which are an excellent source of phytochemicals. Those are plant ingredients that have shown photoprotective properties, means they can protect your skin from oxidative damage. Apart from that, broccoli is high in vitamin A, C and folate and this superstar has also shown to have anti cancer properties. Ever tried raw broccoli with a tasty, healthy dip sauce? You should definitely give it a try.
- Other great choices are: Cucumber, dark green leafy veggies, tomatoes and bell peppers.
Healthy summer fat:
Sounds a bit contradictory, but it is a fact that fat doesn't make you fat. The right fat, that is. Healthy unsaturated omega 3 fatty acids are incredibly beneficial for your health -- they should be on your plate every day! In summer, they can be used to prepare tasty dip sauces to eat with veggie sticks, fruit or veggie crisps.
They are high in potassium, which is an electrolyte and helps to control blood pressure (among many other things!). They are also high in Vitamin B6, which supports a healthy skin and helps to maintain healthy blood vessels, and Vitamin K, which plays an essential role in blood clothing and stops excessive bleeding. A healthy blood coagulation system is important to stop an initiated bleeding because of injuries and not to cause thrombosis.
There are several studies, that have promoted that avocado protects heart health and has a positive influence on blood lipid profiles. This is important because high levels of certain lipids can cause damage in the blood vessels and the heart and thus lead to life threatening conditions. Avocado also has cholesterol lowering effects, which may be due to their fiber content.
Healthy summer protein:
When talking about protein, we automatically think about meat. But plant-based protein is more and more trendy nowadays and a lot of studies are showing that it can be better for both you and the plant to get your protein from primarily plant-based sources.
- Okami’s Top Summer Snack Pick - Nuts: Nuts are always a healthy a practical snack option - they are quick and come in many varieties! You can find a lot of different information on which type of nuts are the healthiest ones. Well, this depends on what you are looking for.
Want high protein? Go for almonds, which come with 22g of protein per 100g.
Low in saturated fat? Walnuts are your choice, they only have 6g per 100g.
Low in carbs? The winner is pecans, with only 1,2g per 100g.
As you see, it depends on your goals or needs. We recommend a mix of healthy nuts without salt added. They all have a great nutrition profile and mixing those increases the diversity of vitamins and minerals. Nuts have several proven health benefits like lowering the risk of coronary heart disease or reducing the risk of cancer. They’ve also shown to improve memory function and blood lipid levels.
Healthy summer carbs
Carbohydrates provide our body with energy. You should always go for complex carbs versus refined carbs, which means choosing natural, whole grain products instead of processed products which are high in refined (white) sugar. In simple terms: Eat whole grains not chocolate bars. All whole grains provide us with carbohydrate, protein, minerals and vitamins.
- Okami’s Top Summer Snack Pick - Oats: Good old fashioned oats. They are easy to digest, while providing a lot of fiber. Having oats for breakfast will give you energy to start the day. Oats are high in vitamins and minerals like manganese, copper, iron, magnesium and zinc. They also have a low glycemic index, which is favourable for weight control. Studies have shown that oat-specific micronutrients have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Oats are in general gluten-free. They just may contain gluten as a type of contaminations with wheat. This means that during processing in fabriks who deal with more grains, oats can get contaminated with traces of wheat. If you are celiac just buy oats with a certificated gluten-free label.
Of course, oats are just one of the many healthy complex carbs that make for good summer snack bases. Quinoa, seeds and legumes are also good options.
The Bottom Line:
There is a load of healthy and tasty foods to enjoy in summer. They all help your body to cope with summer challenges. Most of the recommended foods are super easy to prepare and to take them with you when going to the beach or other outdoor activity. Nature offers so many different types of fruits and vegetables, and these are great when complemented with healthy sources of fats, proteins and carbs. Pulling from our top picks for these categories will help your body be nourished to stay active and healthy during this summer season.