Summer is the time of lemonade stands and sugary sweet drinks, but for those of us that are paying attention to our heart health, we have to tread carefully when we’re at summer fairs, festivals, or just over at a neighbor’s backyard BBQ. Rather than opting for the sugar-laden choices we’re so used to seeing, here are some heart-healthy summer drinks that can keep you cool without raising your blood pressure or increasing your cardiac risk factors.
A refreshing, low-sugar take on your usual sugary lemonade, a minty melonade combines the refreshing, hydration-heavy taste of honeydew melon with the tangy zip of fresh lime juice and the cooling chill of mint. Toss those ingredients in a blender and cool the mixture for at least an hour before adding chilled club soda and additional mint if desired.
Here’s the thing about leafy greens – they’re amazing for your heart and if you add them into your smoothies with prominent fruit flavors, you won’t even know they’re there! Sure, the spinach might turn your peach-colored smoothie green, but the flavor will remain peach-centered and you’ll be adding tons of antioxidants and heart-healthy vitamins like iron and omega 3s when you add mild-flavored greens like chard and spinach to your morning smoothie.
Dress up Your Ice
Keeping your drinks cold as the temperatures heat up can be a bit of a challenge, especially if you’re not interested in watering down your delicious drinks with the ice as it melts. Thankfully, ice doesn’t have to be boring. You can freeze cubes of your favorite summer drinks to add to it for even more flavor or make ice cubes with your favorite herbs for a flavor twist as the ice melts. Add mint cubes to your lemonade or iced tea and enjoy two drinks in one!
We know that kombucha can be a bit of an acquired taste, as it is a fermented drink with a bit of a vinegar kick if you’re not used to it, but there are so many delicious options of this probiotic-rich drink out there now that you have to at least give it a shot. What people don’t often realize is that gut health is linked to so many other aspects of our health as humans, including, to some extent, heart health. Making sure that your gut is well-balanced and happy helps keep your whole body in better check, and kombucha helps keep your belly happy and healthy. Find a couple of flavors that you like and replace your nightly glass of wine with kombucha a few nights a week.
Iced Tea With a Twist
Iced Tea is a classic summer drink, from sun tea to sweet tea (though we wouldn’t recommend the latter), but there are ways to enjoy this drink while making sure your heart health is top of mind, too. Consider sweetening unsweetened iced tea with real fruit instead of artificial flavorings, or swapping out traditional black tea for an iced green, white, or caffeine-free herbal tea. Add herbs like mint or rosemary or thyme to your iced tea for an added kick of flavor (or toss a few of those fancy herb-ice-cubes in there to enjoy a slow change in flavors as you sip).
Even if you’re looking out for your cardiac health this summer, you can still indulge in delicious drinks that keep you cool whether you’re poolside, hiking, or just relaxing in the back yard. If you aren’t sure what drinks work best with your heart health goals, consult your primary care physician or your cardiologist to find out more.