5 Hydrating Foods to Help You Beat the Summer Heat
By Melissa Parisi, RD
Over the summer, we need to replenish our liquids more than usual to avoid dehydration. It can set in easier than one might expect, with early warning signs being dry mouth and fatigue. While it may not seem like a cause for concern, it’s important to ward off the more dangerous impacts, such as heat stroke, kidney failure, and even seizures.
On average, most hydration – around 80 percent, studies say – comes from the beverages we drink. Around another 20 percent comes from the foods we eat. So, why not take advantage of the fresh foods at our disposal that have particularly high water content? Below are just a few, with ideas on how to incorporate them into your summer meals:
1. Cooked Zucchini – water content: up to 95%
- Key Nutrients: Vitamins A and C; potassium; magnesium; antioxidants. Studies show that cooked zucchini contains more vitamin A than raw zucchini, with nearly 40% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI).
- Benefits: improved vision and immune health
- Fun Eats: zucchini noodles and grilled kabobs
2. Watermelon – water content: up to 92%
- Key Nutrients: Vitamins A and C; B6; potassium. Studies show that most watermelon contains 21-25% of the RDI of Vitamin C.
- Benefits: helps with muscle and bone repair and maintenance
- Fun Eats: minty melon salad; sweet and savory salad with watermelon, grilled chicken, feta cheese, and balsamic vinegar
3. Raw Spinach – water content: 91-93%
- Key Nutrients: Vitamins A, C, and K; iron; calcium; folate/folic acid; fiber. Studies show that spinach is about one-fourth soluble fiber (fiber which dissolves easily in water). It is also significantly high in insoluble fiber (which passes through the digestive system mostly intact).
- Benefits: Improved gut health, digestion, and regularity, as well as improved blood pressure maintenance.
- Fun Eats: substitute in just about anything for romaine and/or iceberg (i.e., wraps, sandwiches, salads, and pasta salads)
4. Peaches – water content: up to 89%
- Key Nutrients: Vitamins A, C, and E; potassium; fiber; and antioxidants. Studies show that most peaches contain around 17% of the recommended daily intake of Vitamin C.
- Benefits: improved digestion, immune health, and skin health
- Fun Eats: grilled peach bruschetta; peach, spinach, and avocado salad
5. Yogurt – water content: up to 88% (plain, whole milk)
- Key Nutrients: protein; probiotics; calcium; phosphorous. Studies show that yogurt (with active or live cultures) is one of the best sources of probiotics, or bacteria that improve gut health.
- Benefits: improved gut health, bone health, and blood pressure
- Fun Eats: frozen yogurt popsicles (blended with any fresh or frozen fruit of your choosing); breakfast bowl with yogurt, berries, and granola
Tastier Alternatives to Water:
Even if we eat all these hydrating foods, it’s still important to drink up! If you aren’t a fan of water, there are fun ways to spruce it up with flavor (and still avoid sugar-packed beverages).
You can take just about any fresh fruit; slice, crush, or squeeze it; and add it to water, with/without fresh herbs, such as mint or basil.
My advice? Always keep a drink on hand. It’s easy to get busy with your day and completely forget to drink. Whether you’re staying home or going out for the day – and eating hydrating foods or not – always make your water bottle your best friend!
For more information on Nutrition Services at Jefferson Health - New Jersey, click HERE.