5 Summer Super Foods to Eat This Season to Heal Your Heart
Heads up: I use affiliate links for my favorite products. If you click and purchase, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.
It’s summer, summer, summer time! It’s the season where I have a perpetual smile on my face because it’s SUMMER! We’ve got the beach, the sun, the sand, the pool and the bounty of delicious fruits and vegetables in season to make our taste buds do a happy dance. This includes many summer super foods that heal your heart.
Seasonal Changes & the Five Phases in Traditional Chinese Medicine
If you’ve been following me, I’ve been highlighting the best of the best super foods of the seasons that are not only fresh that time of year, but which have amazing healing properties to the organ system of that season according to Traditional Chinese medicine. Summer is no different with several super foods available this season that you can eat specifically to improve your heart health.
If you want to catch my other posts on seasonal super foods, check them out here:
According to Traditional Chinese medicine, the change of seasons follows a cycle of five phases of energy and matter. Each season corresponds with one of the five phases (Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water) with the season of late summer also being the transitional phase between each of our four seasons.
Each of these five phases aligns with a specific organ system in the body and influences the health of that organ system. Eating specific foods and preparing foods in a certain way aligned with the season is a powerful and easy way to keep you healthy. (Read more about eating with the seasons here).
Summer and the Fire Phase
Summer is the season of the heart and corresponds with the Fire phase in Traditional Chinese medicine. This time of year we should eat foods that can support and strengthen our heart as well as our emotional health.
The heart energy system in Traditional Chinese medicine serves many functions including:
Controlling blood vessels
Balancing the mind and emotions
When our heart energy is out of balance, we may experience anxiety or depression, palpitations, insomnia, dream disturbed sleep, poor memory, cold hands, pale complexion, spontaneous sweating, night sweats, a bitter taste and/or mental restlessness.
You can help prevent and treat these symptoms by adding certain summer super foods into your diet. Check out my top 5 summer super foods to eat this season to heal your heart.
1. Strawberries: Red Summer Super Food to Protect Your Blood Vessels
The color of the Fire phase and summer season is red. Gardens and farms in summer offer us a variety of fruit and vegetables that are red, deep red and purple. Red tomatoes, red peppers, radishes, beets as well as all of the assorted berries of the season are red summer super foods. All of these red foods support our heart energy system and blood vessels.
Strawberries (and other berries like raspberries, blueberries and blackberries) are especially abundant this time of year and are the perfect heart healthy food because they are full of antioxidants. Antioxidants are vital to the health of our hearts because they repair the damage of oxidation and stress.
Scientific studies have also shown improvements in cardiovascular health markers (including LDL oxidation) when berries are eaten due to their high amounts of flavonoids, particularly anthocyanins.
2. Cucumbers: Summer Super Food to Beat the Heat
In summer, it can get HOT! We can feel the heat externally on those 90+ degree days, but our internal bodies can also develop pathological heat conditions such as heart fire. Heart fire in Traditional Chinese medicine can manifest as mental restlessness or mania, insomnia and dream disturbed sleep, thirst and bitter taste.
Eating foods that are cold energetically can help keep us physically cool and can cool any internal fire conditions. Cucumbers are a cold energetic food that you can eat as a delicious snack with a slight shake of sea salt or cut them up with tomatoes and onions for a refreshing salad mixed with olive oil and vinegar to cool you down on a hot day.
With most things in Traditional Chinese medicine, however, we have to remember to stay in balance. Eating too many cold and raw foods can damage our digestive health and cause gas, bloating, stomach upset or loose bowel movements. Enjoy the abundance of fresh, raw foods fruits and vegetables to beat the heat this summer but also balance them with foods that are lightly cooked.
3. Watermelon: Summer Super Food to Replenish Fluids
Because sweating is a natural part of summer, it’s very important to replenish fluids this time of year. Heart fire conditions can also burn up our body fluids due to the excess heat in the body. Even deficient conditions of our heart energy system can injure our body fluids as they can cause spontaneous sweating or night sweating. Water is a must for hydration but juicy fruits and vegetables can replenish fluids as well.
Watermelon is a hydrating summer staple with good reason. There’s no denying this super food can replenish fluids since water is literally in its name! If you’re not one to pick up a slice or two and go to town, try it in a salad mixed with cucumber, feta cheese crumbles and a splash of balsamic vinegar or make a watermelon salsa.
4. Swiss Chard: Summer Super Food to Calm Anxiety
The heart is considered the emperor of the body and ruler of all emotions in Traditional Chinese medicine. Although each organ system corresponds to and controls a specific emotion, it is the heart that harmonizes all of our emotions and seeks to maintain our mental and emotional stability.
The heart energy system and Fire phase also reflects the emotion of joy. Any imbalance in our heart energy can throw our emotions out of alignment. Feelings of anxiety and mental taxation or even excessive joy and mania indicate a heart imbalance.
Swiss chard is a summer super food that supports our heart health due to its high amounts of magnesium. Magnesium is an important mineral that can heal symptoms related to a heart blood deficiency condition in Traditional Chinese medicine. Someone with heart blood deficiency may experience anxiety as well as palpitations and insomnia with difficulty falling asleep. Magnesium can help treat all three of these symptoms. It calms the mind to ease anxiety and relaxes the heart muscle to ease palpitations. Taken at night, magnesium can also help you to fall asleep faster and help you sleep through the night.
So, stock up on the swiss chard this summer to increase your magnesium intake. Lightly sauté it, add it into a frittata, or mix it with pasta and parmesan cheese.
Not a fan of swiss chard? Get your magnesium at the beach this summer with a dip in the ocean. Not near a beach? Try this magnesium supplement. I prefer this magnesium supplement because they are not large pills to swallow and it is a form of magnesium that does not have a laxative effect like other forms. I recommend starting at 300 mg/day.
5. Kale: A Bitter Summer Super Food to Ground Excess Energy
Each season in Traditional Chinese medicine also corresponds with a particular flavor. In summer during the Fire phase, the flavor of the season is bitter.
Bitter foods have a strong descending action in the body. In this regard, eating bitter foods can help treat mental health conditions of the heart. This includes anxiety, but especially mania or over-excitement where there is too much energy disturbing the head and mind.
Popular for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, kale is a delicious and slightly bitter vegetable that you should add to your grocery list this summer. Try roasting it to make kale chips or toss it with a light vinaigrette to change up your usual salad greens.
Rich in Vitamins K, A and C and beta carotene, kale has also shown to decrease LDL cholesterol levels and raise HDL levels which is great for heart health.
What summer super foods are you eating this season? Let me know in the comments below.
Check out this video series on Chinese medical nutrition!
Looking for easy to use, practical advice on foods to eat and recipes to cook each season? Check out the summer season video or the entire 6-part video series on eating by the season by Ancient Roots Nutrition. These videos teach you how to use real food, common kitchen herbs, vegetables, fruit, spices, and proteins to bring your body back to optimal health each season. They are a great deal and yours to keep to review each and every year as the seasons change.