Spices are an integral part of cooking. They supercharge the food with flavour and texture. To top it up, the health benefits of spices are galore! But did you know that not all spices are ideal for use in the summer season? Spices may be classified as heating or cooling depending upon whether they generate heat during digestion. Too much heat generation may lead to skin irritation, rashes, acne outbreak, excessive sweating, and heatstroke in severe cases.
Thankfully, there is a category of spices that helps to keep the body cool during summers. Known as the summer spices, they are a must-have in the summer diets. Read through to know the healthy spices to use in summers.
Healthy Spices for Summer
Some spices are cooling in nature. They help the body by conferring a cooling effect. They keep the internal body temperature low and make the body feel comfortable and refreshed even in the scorching heat.
Surprisingly, a few body-warming spices are also considered healthy in summers. The body-warming spices raise body temperature during the digestion process. This makes the body sweat out a lot quicker which helps in cooling down the body faster. Let’s read more about the health benefits of spices and their cooling and body warming classifications.
Body Cooling Spices for Summers
Listed below are some of the healthy spices that leave a cooling effect during the digestive process:
Mint is particularly revered for its cooling sensation. It is usable in both fresh and dried forms and makes for an active ingredient in many foods and beverages. Often used in small quantities, it is a rich source of micronutrients. The antioxidants present in mint protect the body from oxidative damage caused by free radicals. Mint is especially helpful in summers as it helps improve the digestive disorders typically common in the hot weather season.
Thus, ingestion of mint helps soothe upset stomach and indigestion. The powerful aroma of mint also keeps the brain active and alert. As it keeps lethargy at bay, this helps in improving memory retention. The antibacterial properties of mint help combat infections. This also makes it a powerful agent to mask bad breath.
2. Fennel Seeds
Commonly known as saunf, it is best used as a mouth freshener at the end of every meal. But thanks to its cooling effect, it is an extremely useful spice in the hot summer season.
Furthermore, packed with Vitamin C, it helps reduce inflammation caused due to heat. Fennel seeds are also known to stimulate the production of digestive juices which aid in proper digestion, reducing acid reflux. It is also an established way to improve gut health in summer as it provides instant relief from the summer heat.
3. Cumin Seeds
Cumin seeds are a wonder spice when it comes to coping with the hot summer sun. Ideal spice to cool the body system, it works by keeping the body hydrated. This helps in preventing heat strokes.
Cumin seeds are among the healthy spices that work as an effective cure for flatulence and stomach bloating. Ingestion of cumin seeds makes the body feel lighter. Cumin seeds also help in the detoxification of the body. Although whole cumin seeds are used in a range of recipes, add grounded cumin seeds powder to buttermilk to get ‘super cool’ in this hot summer season.
Amchur is a ‘super cooler’ to use in summers. Made from raw mangoes, amchur is savoured for its tangy taste. It is rich in vitamins and beta-carotene, which detoxifies the body by eliminating body toxins.
Regular use of amchur in summers reduces acidity and boosts digestion. It is a great way to ensure timely bowel movements. Amchur has high amounts of vitamin C which help eliminate cancer-causing free radicals. Amchur helps balance hormonal changes in pregnant women. As amchur helps increase metabolism, it also aids in weight loss.
Interestingly, coriander is considered both a cooling and warming herb. Although the entire plant is edible, depending upon the part of the plant that is consumed, one can use it both as a summer and winter spice. Adding fresh green coriander leaves to summer foods helps the body get rid of excess heat and toxic build-up in the body.
As it detoxifies the body, it helps the body stay cool and refreshed. The seeds, on the other hand, confer a warming effect. They help stimulate appetite and eliminate toxic waste. Coriander is also good for the digestive system and the body’s excretory system. It also plays a vital role in stabilising blood sugar levels.
6. Green Cardamom
The green cardamom or the choti elaichi is the perfect summer spice. It protects the digestive system from excessive heat and removes unwanted chemicals and toxins from the body, reducing the body heat from within.
A perfect addition to your hot morning tea, cold almond milk, and a range of summer smoothies, it aids in digestion, neutralises excess stomach acids to fight nausea and heartburn, and provides relief from cramps and pain.
Body Warming Summer Spices
Listed below are the spices that are warm but when consumed in the right manner, can prove to be great during the summer season:
1. Fenugreek Seeds
Fenugreek seeds are body warming. But having them soaked in water or drinking their water makes them an ideal summer spice with many health benefits. Using soaked fenugreek adds flavour to the food.
Drinking fenugreek water on an empty stomach in the morning makes it a potent antacid. You can use soaked and sprouted fenugreek seeds to aid digestion. It is an excellent way to lower cholesterol levels and regulate blood sugar levels. You can also add soaked fenugreek seeds to curries for enhanced nutrition.
Saffron, also called the golden spice because of its striking yellow colour, is known for its cooling properties. Although a body warming spice, saffron needs to be moistened to release its flavours. This changes it to a body cooling food.
Often added to desserts and curries, it is excellent for glowing and youthful skin. It also helps reduce skin tan, soothe irritated skin, and get rid of inflammation. Saffron is also known to reduce stress hormone levels and is a potent way to relieve the psychological symptoms of Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS). Saffron is rich in manganese which helps regulate blood sugar levels. Its high riboflavin levels are good for heart health.
Ginger is another, all-weather, healthy spice. While it keeps you warm in winters, adding fresh ginger to foods has a cooling effect on the body. The magical spice helps fight heat stress. Its antimicrobial properties decrease body inflammation and strengthen the immune system.
A cup of ginger tea also helps cure morning sickness in pregnant women. Garnishing curds and salads with finely chopped ginger fingers will help improve digestion and stimulate appetite, which reduces significantly in the hot summer months.
Turmeric is among the healthy spices that are body warming but confers a cooling effect to the body when used in summers. Its healing properties are health-boosting. It has anti-inflammatory properties and is a potent blood purifier. Turmeric is also revered for its anti-bacterial and anti-microbial traits. It boosts the digestion system and enhances immunity.
Thankfully, just like summer foods, summer spices help the body remain comfortable during this unpleasant season. But pick your spice carefully. Read through the health benefits of spices before adding them to your summer diet. While cooling spices are a not-to-miss addition, the body warming spices must be consumed in limited quantities only.