Healthy Family Dinner

Boost your health with the blues, yellows, greens and reds found in summer’s fresh vegetables and fruits. They taste a lot better than your daily multivitamin.

Blueberries are high in vitamin C and a good source of fiber. Vitamin C benefits immune function and iron absorption and aids in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases. Fiber helps maintain regularity and can lower cholesterol levels. Pineapple is another summer produce item rich in vitamin C and fiber. Vitamin C also helps with the growth and repair of bodily tissues and helps in wound healing. Zucchini, a summer staple that is part of the squash family, is high in fiber and vitamin C. It is also a source of vitamin B9/folate, which aids in the production of red blood cells and helps the body digest proteins.

The choices are endless and more people are making the choice for fresh fruits and vegetables – they were two of the top three grocery categories purchased by baby boomers last year. Just 30 years ago, fresh fruits and vegetables failed to make the top five.

Deflect sun’s rays

One in five Americans will develop skin cancer, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. Although sun protection should be a year-round effort, now’s the time to know the facts and step up your efforts. Ultraviolet A rays are more prevalent (95 percent of UVA radiation reaches earth) but less intense than UVB rays. UVA rays can damage the middle and outer layers of skin. UVB rays damage the skin’s outermost layers.

Sun Protection Factor (SPF) refers to a sunscreen’s ability to block UVB rays. Generally, people who apply an SPF 15 will find their skin takes 15 times longer to redden, while an SPF 30 would take the skin 30 times longer. However, as for blocking UVB rays, the numbers translate a little differently. SPF 15 blocks about 93 percent of incoming rays. SPF 30 blocks about 97 percent, while SPF 50 blocks about 98 percent.

The Food and Drug Administration reported SPF levels higher than 50 can be misleading and may not provide additional protection. Reapply sunscreen every two hours. Don’t forget areas such as lips, ears, around eyes, neck, scalp (if hair is thinning), hands and feet.

Ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) measures how much of the sun’s UV radiation is absorbed by clothing. Fabrics with a rating of 50, for example, allow 1/50th of the sun’s UV rays to reach your skin. Tightly woven fabrics and dark colors, such as long-sleeved dark denim which has a UPF of about 1,700, or bright colors, such as orange and red, block UV rays the best. Some companies offer UPF-specific clothing.

Grill up health

The grill can be the conduit for healthy cooking AND healthy living. More than 60 percent of adults say a barbecue is a good way to spend quality time with their friends and relatives, according to a national survey by Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (HPBA).

“Outdoor cooking is a very popular pastime that unites friends and family with great-tasting food that’s easy and affordable,” says Leslie Wheeler, Director of Communications at HPBA.

Seventy percent of Americans say grilling enables a healthier routine by encouraging time outdoors instead of in the house. Fifty-four percent say outdoor cooking encourages them to make smarter food choices. One-quarter say the quick and easy nature of outdoor cooking helps them maintain a healthy lifestyle because it gives them more free time for other activities.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture offers these tips for your next cookout:

  • Thaw meat and poultry before grilling so it cooks evenly.
  • Do not place cooked food on a platter that contained raw food.
  • Promote cleanliness. No easy access to water? Bring your own or pack moist towelettes for cleaning surfaces and hands.
  • Grab a thermometer. Poultry should be heated to 165 degrees. Pork and ground beef should reach 160 degrees. Steaks, veal, lamb, roasts and chops should reach a minimum of 145 degrees.

Pump up outdoors

Here are some tips for ways to enjoy yourself and get your blood pumping this summer:

Play with Fido. If you have a pet, both of you can receive a daily dose of exercise by walking or jogging around the block. Play fetch or tag. To firm your abs, do crunches while holding your pet’s favorite toy. As you sit up, throw the toy. When your pet brings it back, throw it again. Do as many reps as you can.

Join an Ultimate league. Take that flying disc you used with Fido to the next level. Ultimate, a non-contact sport played with a flying disc, is gaining in popularity. Teams usually consist of seven players and play like football, scoring points by passing the disc to another player in the opposing end zone. To find a league near you, visit

Fly high. While kite-flying may sound easy, just 20 minutes of this activity can burn 100 calories or more, depending on wind conditions. Controlling a kite uses arm and shoulder muscles, and staying grounded requires leg muscles. For an added bonus, do squats or lunges when the wind is tame.

Get to the beach. Running on sand burns 1.6 times more calories than running on a flat surface because the uneven terrain requires more energy. Burn calories by building a sandcastle or just playing in the sand.

Windsurfing. Looking for something with a little more edge? Consider windsurfing, which is an intense combination of surfing and sailing. With so many bodies of water easily accessible, why not head to a local windsurfing school, which rents equipment and helps you learn the basics.

Stay hydrated

It isn’t just a matter of thirst. It’s a matter of health. With all the increased summer activity, dehydration is ever-present because the primary way the body expels heat is through perspiration, according to The Cleveland Clinic.

Know the signs of dehydration: fatigue, loss of appetite, flushed skin, heat intolerance, light-headedness, dark-colored urine and dry mouth. Seek immediate medical attention if the signs are severe.

Prevent dehydration: Drink before you feel thirsty (if you feel thirsty, chances are you already are dehydrated.) Avoid heavy exercise in extreme heat. Drink two to four glasses (16 to 32 ounces) of fluid each hour.

Water is always a good choice, but sports drinks replace minerals that are lost through perspiration, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC). Avoid alcohol and large amounts of sugar, which can aid in dehydration, and fruit juices and very cold drinks, which could upset the stomach.

Keep an eye on those who are most at risk, which include infants, young children, people age 65 and older, overweight people and people who are physically ill, especially with heart disease or high blood pressure, according to the CDC.