Stay hydrated this summer with these water-filled foods.
We’ve all heard the advice, “Drink eight glasses of water per day.” But in truth, that number varies depending on things like your activity level, external temperature and a myriad of other factors. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommends an average of 125 ounces of total water intake per day for men and around 91 ounces for women, but that doesn’t mean we have to guzzle additional glasses of H2O. Our total water intake comes from all of the beverages we drink (including caffeinated ones) and from our food. In fact, IOM estimates that up to 20 percent of our total water intake comes from food, namely fruits and vegetables. Bump up your hydration by adding these 10 juicy eats to your diet, all of which provide at least 90 percent of their weight in water.
Technically a fruit, the cucumber is available year-round and boasts over 96 percent water content. Cucumbers taste great eaten raw, but are also perfect sliced and tossed into salads or added to a glass of water for a flavor pick-me-up. Add a few slices to your favorite smoothie or fresh juice – the mild taste blends well with most fruits and veggies.
Other health benefits: Cucumbers contain high amounts of cucurbitacins, plant chemicals showing huge promise in cancer therapies.
This sour citrus fruit has long been regarded as beneficial for dieters. At least one study has shown that eating half of a hydrating, filling grapefruit before each meal led the subjects to lose a significant amount of weight.
Other health benefits: A study published in the British Journal of Nutrition found that grapefruit juice reduced the risk of kidney stone formation.
With only 3 calories per 5-inch stalk, celery is more than 95 percent water and contains a dose of fiber to help keep hunger pangs away. You’ll find this little munchy on most vegetable trays since it pairs well with many dips and spreads to make a satisfying snack.
Other health benefits: Celery is a good source of vitamin K and folate. Physicians recommend celery to patients with gastritis to help with symptoms.
• Summer Squash
Thin-skinned summer squash are packed with water and are the perfect base for meatless summer meals. Hollow these beauties out and stuff with cheese and other veggies before baking or add sliced summer squash to egg-based dishes like quiches and frittatas.
Other health benefits: Summer squash varieties are high in lesser-known carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, important antioxidants for eye health. Leave skins on to reap the maximum nutritional rewards.
The fresh, flavorful tomatoes available in summer are great hydrating additions to salads and sandwiches. Try a caprese salad made with heirloom tomatoes, basil and fresh mozzarella for a tasty treat. Thirsty? Even canned tomato juices weigh in at over 94 percent water, so chug away!
Other health benefits: Eating lycopene-rich tomatoes helps protect skin from dangerous UV rays – a bonus since we log more hours outdoors in the summer months!
• Green Bell Peppers
All bell peppers have high water content, but green ones have a slight edge over other varieties with more than 93 percent water. Add crunchy sliced bells to crudite platters with other raw veggies such as broccoli and cucumbers. And serve with your favorite dip for an easy summer appetizer.
Other health benefits: Green bell peppers supply more immune-boosting vitamin C than oranges, providing approximately 200 percent of the recommended daily value.
• White Mushrooms
People don’t usually associate mushrooms with high nutritional value, but this might surprise you: in addition to having more than 92 percent water content, these edible fungi are packed with essential vitamins and minerals like riboflavin, niacin, copper and selenium. White mushrooms make great pizza toppings and are a go-to in summer salads.
Other health benefits: Researchers have found that mushrooms contain the powerful antioxidant ergothioneine, which protect the body’s cells from free radical damage.
This luscious melon is more than 90 percent water, but it doesn’t skimp on flavor. A one-cup serving delivers up vitamins A and C, as well as potassium, which plays a key role in hydration for athletes.
Other health benefits: Studies show that the beta-carotene found in cantaloupe may help improve skin elasticity and prevent premature skin aging.
Not difficult to imagine based on it’s name alone, juicy watermelon contains more than 91 percent water and like tomatoes, the red-fleshed fruit is a good source of lycopene. Make your own spa water by adding cubes of watermelon to a fruit-infusing water pitcher, or as a refreshing ingredient in homemade salsa.
Other health benefits: This classic summer fruit contains the amino acid citrulline, which according to a 2013 study helped reduce post-exercise muscle soreness in athletes.
Although all berries are good choices for hydration, strawberries reign supreme with almost 91 percent water content. For a well-rounded snack with a good mix of macronutrients, stir freshly-sliced strawberries into plain, low-fat Greek yogurt. Keep summer salads interesting by mixing strawberries into seasonal greens and serving with a light vinaigrette.
Other health benefits: A one-cup serving of strawberries provides a little more than your recommended daily dose of vitamin C. Strawberries are also a good source of manganese, which aids in calcium absorption.
STEPS TO AVOID DEHYDRATION
Initial signs and symptoms of dehydration include thirst, lack of energy, decreased urination and dark yellow-colored urine. As dehydration progresses, you may experience weakness, dizziness, dry mouth and heart palpitations.
The Institute of Medicine determined that an adequate water intake for men is about 13 cups (of total beverages) daily and 9 cups of total beverages a day for women.
Stay safe! During intense exercise and bouts of heat, drink more water due to fluid loss through sweat.
By Karen Morse, MPH