Stay healthy with summer veggies

Summer is the season of fruits and winter of vegetables. We savour a variety of succulent fruits like mango, litchi and berries during the hot months and look forward to colder climes to enjoy veggies like cauliflower, carrots and peas.

In fact, a lot of us even go for frozen cauliflower, peas etc. in summers when a nice vegetarian spread has to be prepared.

However, not many of us realise that nature has provided us a whole class of ‘summer vegetables’ to enjoy and replenish the body with during these months. Snake gourd (parwal), bottle gourd (lauki), bitter gourd (karela), ridged gourd (torai), pumpkin, cucumbers etc. are widely available in the first half of the year and even come cheap. A lot of us, though, totally disregard their presence in the marketplace putting our own health at peril.

Dr Anu Gupta, a USA-trained weight loss specialist based in the city, says, “Summer vegetables are those vegetables that are largely available between the months of April to August. This includes all the members of the Gourd family such as ridged gourd, teasel gourd, ash gourd, pumpkin, baby pumpkin
(tinda), squash etc. These have a smooth skin, are plump to touch and have high water content.”

“Because of their high water content, they cool the body and cleanse the stomach relieving it of constipation, jaundice, diarrhoea etc which are common ailments of the hot season. They are also very low in fats, which aids in weight loss.”

Dr Sunita Roy Chowdhury, chief dietician, BLK Super Speciality Hospital, Rajendra Place, elaborates on the importance of vegetables saying, “Our body processes carbohydrates, proteins and fats in the food we consume with the help of enzymes and co-enzymes. These are akin to the ID and password required to open a mail. Vegetables help us synthesise these enzymes and co-enzymes. The body cannot do without these.”

Summer vegetables have more health benefits than what we imagine. Priya Bharma, senior dietician at Delhi’s Sri Balaji Action Medical Institute, Paschim Vihar, tells us, “They are a storehouse of minerals primarily and some vitamins and antioxidants. These are rich sources of potassium, iron, sodium and magnesium which we lose with sweat in summer and are important to restore to prevent dehydration. They are also natural packets of Vitamin A, K, C and B6.”

“So many of us tend to ignore summer veggies because of their bland taste, thanks to the water content. But there are numerous ways to make them into tasty dishes. I would say they are a much better alternative to vitamin pills. One should go for them as often as possible,” says Bharma.

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