When heat and humidity soar, keeping your body hydrated matters more than ever. Did you know you can hydrate with what’s on your plate — not just what’s in your cup?
The following foods are heavy on the water content, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s nutrient database. In several cases, they’re also full of nutrients that will help you fight disease. So eat up, and beat the heat with your fork.
Hydrate and replenish your skin with fresh cucumbers. In addition to containing 95 percent water, cucumbers are rich in anti-inflammatory compounds that help remove waste from the body and reduce skin irritation. Preliminary research also suggests cucumbers promote anti-wrinkling and anti-aging activity. Find them at your farmers market; they’re in season from July to September.
Celery will satisfy your craving for crunch. It’s also tied with cucumbers and iceberg lettuce at 95 percent water by weight. You can feel good about eating celery because of its low calorie count and high value in vitamin K, folate and potassium.
3. Iceberg lettuce
The “ice” might as well be melted, since this type of lettuce contains 95 percent water. That makes it a good hydrating base for your summer salad. However, if you prefer the heart-healthy benefits of leafy greens instead, spinach is a good alternative at 91 percent water by weight.
Watch for fresh, in-season zucchini this summer. Like its relatives in the cucumber and melon families, this popular summer squash has a high water content — almost 95 percent. Better yet, zucchini packs in antioxidants such as beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin. Those last two are especially important for eye health.
No surprise here — “water” is in the name, after all. Watermelon flesh contains 91 percent water. This summer treat also contains abundant lycopene, which can help protect cells from sun damage and improve your complexion.
They’re sweet enough you can eat them for dessert. But the benefits of strawberries go beyond flavor and 91 percent water content. They provide a rich source of flavonoids, compounds associated with improved cognitive function. For example, one study associated eating more berries with delayed cognitive aging of up to 2.5 years.
Surprised? Well, cauliflower is actually 92 percent water by weight. It’s rich in vitamin C, vitamin K and other key essentials. Cauliflower and other cruciferous vegetables contain nutrients that may help lower cholesterol and lower cancer risk. Try it mashed as a substitute for mashed potatoes.
Brigid Titgemeier, MS, RDN, nutritionist at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute, contributed to this article.