When summer heat and humidity are high, it is important to stay hydrated. Did you know that what you eat can help you stay hydrated? Typically 80% of our water needs are met through water and other beverages. But foods high in water content can help us stay hydrated and are great additions to summertime meals. Usually celery comes to mind when we think foods that have lots of water in them. But many more fruits and vegetables top the list of foods high in water content. Try to eat ate least five servings of vegetables and two or more servings of fruits per day to help stay hydrated. Here are seven great choices (besides celery) to help you beat the heat and also provide a nutrition boost to your summer meals.
1. Cucumbers. Crisp, refreshing cucumbers are the gem of summer salads. Weighing in at 95% water, this low calorie veggie adds crunch to salads of all types. Add diced cucumbers to pasta and grain salads for a bright burst of flavor. Thicker slices of cucumbers make an excellent “chip” you can dip in hummus or low fat ranch. Layer thinly sliced cucumbers on sandwiches or add slices to a glass of water for a flavor boost. Chilled cucumber soup is an excellent choice to keep you cool on hot and humid days. Cucumbers contribute vitamin K, potassium and magnesium to our diets.
2. Lettuce and leafy greens. Spinach, salad greens, romaine and leafy green lettuces, especially darker green varieties, provide vitamins A, C and folate. Obviously, salad is the typical way to enjoy lettuce. But add these leafy greens to sandwiches, tacos and burritos for some crunch. Spinach and arugula, a peppery green, can be added to burgers and pizza. You can use romaine and iceberg lettuce leaves in place of bread for wraps and subs.
3. Watermelon. Juicy and sweet, watermelon is 92% water. Low calorie (46 calories per cup) and rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, lycopene and other disease fighting antioxidants, watermelon is the ultimate summer treat that can be eaten alone or in salads.
4. Cantaloupe, like watermelon, is a refreshing fruit with a hydration punch. Rich in Vitamin A and potassium, cantaloupe also provides some fiber. Add cantaloupe to fruit salads and pair with creamy cottage cheese and yogurt. Cantaloupe is a perfect base for refreshing chilled fruit soups and smoothies.
5. Tomatoes. Antioxidant-rich tomatoes are high in water content and potassium. From cherry and grape tomatoes that you can just pop in your mouth to burger-topping beefsteak slices, the variety of tomatoes make it easy to include this veggie in your meals. Try sliced tomatoes drizzled with olive oil on sandwiches or bruschetta and add diced tomatoes to salads, tacos, burritos and rice dishes. Don’t forget about fresh salsas, Pico de Gallo and gazpacho to help beat the heat!
6. Cauliflower. Would you believe cauliflower is approximately 92% water? This cruciferous vegetable may help lower cancer risk and keep your heart healthy, and is a source of choline, an essential nutrient for the brain and nervous system. Try cauliflower in stir fries or roasted in the oven. Riced cauliflower is a lower carb substitute for rice and potatoes, and frozen riced cauliflower side dishes are also available at many larger grocery stores.
7. Zucchini. This abundant summer squash is an excellent choice for both fluid and fiber. Typically cooked, zucchini can be sliced, shredded, spiralized and stuffed to add hydration benefits. Add zucchini to pasta sauce or try the spiralized “zoodles” instead of pasta. Stir fry or sauté with onions and mushrooms for a filling side dish. Try adding shredded zucchini to meat loaf or muffins for more fiber and nutrients will adding moisture.
Of course other fruits and veggies, including celery, are also great hydration choices. Strawberries, peaches, oranges and other citrus fruits, cabbage and bell peppers are a few options to add to summer meals to add flavor and hydration benefits. Filling at least half your plate with fruits and vegetables can help you stay hydrated and healthy when summer turns up the heat.