The Top 8 Cooling Spices for Summer

Also known as pitta (or fire season), summer heat can lead to excess skin irritation, acne, rashes, sweating, and even heat stroke. To keep the body cool during the summer months, ancient Indian medicine (Ayurveda) recommends consuming spices that promote cooling. Spices are one of the most potent plant foods in terms of antioxidants and bioactive compounds. According to Ayruveda’s 5,000 year old food philosophy, there are plenty of everyday spices that can even help cool the body when outside temperatures become unbearable. Here are the top 8 cooling spices, according to Ayruveda, to include in your diet to feel fresh and comfortable.

1. Organic Mint

Mint is more than just a remedy for bad breath; in fact, this perennial herb is an excellent cooling spice. Picked fresh, mint makes an excellent heat-busting addition to a summer lemonade or fresh fruit salad. Growing mint in the backyard garden is easy to do; however, mint can become invasive, so it’s always best to plant in containers to avoid competition with neighboring plants.

2. Organic Fennel Seed

Although you may not even know what a fennel seed is, this readily available spice is thought to be highly cooling for those hot summer months. Fennel seeds also have the added benefit of stimulating intestinal juices, promoting proper digestion, and reducing acid reflux. [1] Try chewing a teaspoon of fennel seeds before and after your next main meal. These cooling seeds also keep the breath fresh and promote good oral hygiene.

3. Organic Fresh Cilantro

Fresh cilantro leaves have been used in Thailand and Mexico for thousands of years. A staple in many homemade salsa recipes, cilantro counteracts the spicy flavors found in many international dishes. If thinking about growing cilantro, try sowing seeds in pots that receive plenty of daily light.

4. Organic Coriander

Ayurvedic medicine considers coriander one of the most cooling spices. Treasured in India and China as well as Europe and North Africa, coriander is highly revered for its many health promoting properties. Coriander is actually the seed of the cilantro plant and is often used to flavor meat and vegetables. You can use coriander in a BBQ rub or in a savory Indian curry. Coriander may also help ease digestion and stabilize blood sugar. [2]

5. Organic Cardamom

Cardamom, another excellent digestion aid, makes a great addition to a summer morning tea. Add a dash or two of cardamom to some chilled rooibos tea laced with almond milk for a cooling iced herbal beverage. Cardamom is also delicious when added to your morning smoothie, granola, or yogurt.

6. Organic Saffron

The striking yellow color of saffron-seasoned dishes can lift any spirit, and consuming this spice may also raise your mood. [3] Another cooling spice that is extremely versatile, saffron is known for its prominent place in paella, curries, and rubs; it is also a great addition to tea and beverages. To make a cooling tea this summer, boil water and add some saffron powder and a couple of cardamom pods. After boiling the saffron mixture and removing it from the heat, add tea bags and steep to desired strength. Sweeten with stevia or serve as is for a refreshing twist on your summer tea.

7. Organic Dill

This cooling, savory spice can be used in its fresh and dried forms; however, fresh forms of the spice are often more potent in flavor. Try adding some fresh dill to many of your summer recipes to fight the heat. Grilled veggies and fish taste great with the addition of fresh dill and a dash of lemon juice.

8. Organic Cumin

In small amounts, cumin seeds and ground cumin can be cooling for the body. Not only that, cumin may also aid detoxification [4] and remedy gas and bloating. Cumin is a savory spice that can be used in grain dishes, vegetable recipes, and soups.

What are your favorite summer spices? Do you have a favorite recipe? Please leave us a comment below and let us know!

-Dr. Edward F. Group III, DC, ND, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM

References:

  1. Valussi M. Functional foods with digestion-enhancing properties. Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2012 Mar;63 Suppl 1:82-9. doi: 10.3109/09637486.2011.627841. 2011 Oct 19.
  2. Deepa B1, Anuradha CV. Antioxidant potential of Coriandrum sativum L. seed extract. Indian J Exp Biol. 2011 Jan;49(1):30-8.
  3. Hausenblas HA1, Saha D, Dubyak PJ, Anton SD. Saffron (Crocus sativus L.) and major depressive disorder: a meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials. J Integr Med. 2013 Nov;11(6):377-83. doi: 10.3736/jintegrmed2013056.
  4. K.S. Muthamma Milan, Hemang Dholakia, Purnima Kaul Tiku, Prakash Vishveshwaraiah. Enhancement of digestive enzymatic activity by (Cuminum cyminum L.) and role of spent cumin as a bionutrient. Food Chemistry. Volume 110, Issue 3, 1 October 2008, Pages 678-683.

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  • Franco

    I grow my own cilantro and basil in my backyard. I had no idea they would make good summer spices!

  • http://www.newleafhealing.wordpress.com Heather Pentland

    Love this post! I just blogged about making your own tinctures and decided to look up other people talking about natural health and wellness. Love your blog. I am an acupuncturist and the Ayurvedic info was so interesting, ancient wisdom shared under different names, so much of it was similar to what Chinese medicine suggests. Anyway, glad to have found you, will keep reading. And would love you to stop by my site if you’re interested, I’m new to this blogging stuff! Happy Solstice.

  • Beverly

    Wow, your reply s dated 2 years ago so I am not sure you will be reading this any time soon, but I am looking for an acupuncturist, are you in California?
    I’ve been unemployed for 2 1/2 years working 5 months as a temp and am back looking for work, and have developed a Degenative Disc Diease and have had Chronic Tension headache non-stop for two months, went to Chiroprator for six treatments hasn’t helped, now I would like to try acupuncture in hopes of ridding my headaches and the anxiety that comes with it, I am 60 years old and am in pretty good health other then the stress.

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