News / Health

Certain Foods Have Cooling Effect in Hot Weather

A person holds a cut watermelon at a fruit stand. A person holds a cut watermelon at a fruit stand.
A person holds a cut watermelon at a fruit stand.
A person holds a cut watermelon at a fruit stand.
Jessica Berman
Many countries have experienced record-setting high temperatures this year that many attribute to global warming.  While governments have spent billions of dollars to study climate change and ways to counteract it, scientists say there are inexpensive, low-tech ways people can keep cool - and they can be found at the local food market.

Vegetables, including celery and cucumbers, are 90 percent water.  And fruits such as apples and watermelon, where available, are not only tasty but hydrating. In fact, food scientists call them 'a wrapper for water,' and encourage people to eat lots of them.

What isn’t good for you, believe it or not, are ice-cold beverages, according to biochemist Shirley Corriher, who studies nutrition. She says cold drinks will only make you hotter, because your body has to expend energy to bring the liquid to a warmer, more useable temperature.

Corriher notes there’s a biological reason why mothers hold babies close while they nurse them.

“If the baby was fed ice-cold milk, it could die of malnutrition because it took so much out of its body to bring that cold liquid up to body temperatures," said Corriher.

Tea and dry wine contain tannin, a naturally occurring substance which has been shown to have heart healthy benefits.

Nutritionist Sara Risch says tannins can also cool you off.

“It causes a precipitation and kind of a drying out," said Risch. "And that actually from what we can speculate, it helps so that the cells will want to absorb more water.  And that’s what we are trying to do is to make sure that we do in fact stay hydrated.”

Finally, there are chili peppers and other hot spices.    

“You might be thinking, ‘Wait a minute.  These are foods that make you perspire. What’s that going to do?  They are really hot, and you really feel like you are burning. Why in the world would you want to eat those?’ Well that perspiration is actually good for you. It comes to the surface of the skin and you get evaporative cooling," said Risch.

In addition to chilies, Risch says some good hot spices for cooling you down include ginger and peppermint.

Sara Risch and Shirley Corriher discussed cool foods for hot weather at the American Chemical Society meeting this week in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

You May Like

Video Russia’s Syrian Escalation Tests Obama’s Crisis Response

Critics once again question whether president has been slow to act on Syrian conflict, thus creating opening for powers like Russia More

Ancient African DNA Shows Mass Migration Back Into Africa

First genetic analysis of ancient human remains in Africa suggests massive migration from north around time of Egyptian empire More

NASA: Pluto Has Blue Sky

New photos also reveal the presence of water ice More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugeesi
Henry Ridgwell
October 08, 2015 8:02 PM
Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs