Summer in the Northern hemisphere officially begins with the summer solstice on June 21, but you can start to feel hints of summer in the air from mid-May onward. The following foods nourish and support the health of the fire element at this time, focusing on the heart and small intestine.
- Summer fruits such as wild berries, blackberries, strawberries, elderberries and mulberries are all nourishing for these organs. Depending on where you live, other fruits such as papaya, mango, pineapple, apricot, cherries, melons and apples are all beneficial as well.
- All bitter foods and herbs support the health of the heart and small intestine. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I'm going to reiterate: Eat your greens! The following vegetables are particularly beneficial: dandelion greens, kale, collard greens, watercress, mustard greens, arugula, radicchio, frisée, mizuna, asparagus, eggplant, artichokes, corn, cauliflower, peas, green beans, sprouted mung beans and lentils. Sea vegetables, particularly nori and sea palm fronds, also contain minerals vital for the health of the heart and small intestine.
- Whole grains contain fiber and vitamins essential for heart health. The B vitamins, particularly, help alleviate stress, which is damaging to the heart.
- Beans are high in fiber and other nutrients vital to heart health. Their fiber also encourages the movement of food through the small intestine, so nutrients are made more readily available. Because of their magnesium content, they encourage relaxation, promoting the flow of blood, oxygen and nutrients from the heart throughout the body.
- Since red is the color associated with the fire element, include in your diet red foods such as tomatoes, beetroot and red peppers. Tomatoes contain lycopene, which has been shown to reduce heart disease risk.
- Due to their high levels of essential fatty acids, flax and chia seeds also promote heart health.
- Herbs and spices such as ginger, garlic, cinnamon, cayenne, ginseng, sorrel, hawthorn, paprika, nettle and rosemary all support heart health as well.
- Chocolate, in the form of raw cacao, can be beneficial for the heart. Apart from its bitter flavor, it has been shown to stimulate the release of endorphins in the brain, giving a feeling of happiness and well-being—always a tonic for the heart!
- Studies have shown that nuts—particularly almonds, pecans and walnuts—can reduce the risk of heart disease. Nuts are good sources of healthy fats that can lower bad cholesterol and are also high in antioxidants, essential for cardiovascular health.
- Despite being a saturated fat, the fats in unrefined coconut have been shown by recent studies to actually be heart-healthy. Coconut oil is one of the only dietary sources of a medium-chain fatty acid that is said lower cholesterol and protect the heart. In macrobiotics, which promotes eating foods from your climatic zone and in season, the summer would be an ideal time to enjoy your coconut milk and coconut oil.
- Including a good percentage of live raw foods in your diet can provide the enzymes needed for healthy digestion and assimilation of foods and have a positive impact on heart health.
The best medicines to get your fire burning bright are love and friendship, the company of good friends, a sense of humor and a good laugh. And a big bowl of my Bean-Corn Soccer Ball Soup will warm the cockles of your heart.