Diary / Justbobbi / Sep 26, 2022
6 Hydrating Foods to Add to Your Summer Meal Plan
Written by: Michele Ross
With summer heat quickly upon us, we’re here to share a friendly reminder to hydrate so you can stay safe and healthy while having fun in the sun. To offer expert-backed tips on how to do so enjoyably (trust us, your taste buds will approve), we reached out to Florida–based dietitian Kim Rose, RDN, CDCES, CNSC, for insights and advice. Ahead, you’ll discover that—good old H2O aside—your food choices can also count towards your daily hydration needs.
Why is it important to hydrate?
“Since the human body is made up of sixty to eighty percent water, it’s extremely important to drink up,” Rose begins. She says that chronic dehydration can contribute to several health issues including but not limited to kidney stones and UTIs. With that in mind, “Now that we’re [approaching] summer, getting water from as many sources as possible is vital.”
For starters, it’s essential to fill and refill your water bottle throughout the day, whether or not you’re outdoors. Rose specifically recommends opting for a high-quality water filtration system, citing Berkey as her personal preference for peak drinkability. “This water filtration is a wonderful way to get the best out of such an essential life source,” she explains. “With the removal of over 200 contaminants including heavy metals and pesticides, your water will be safe. And let’s face it: great-tasting water is easier to drink!”
The best hydrating foods to eat this summer
Here are Rose’s top selections of water-rich, hydrating foods worth stocking up on this summer and beyond.
On top of being a water-rich vegetable (consisting of 80 to 89 percent water), carrots are also an amazing source of vitamin A. “This is a big deal because vitamin A supports healthy eyes and the immune system,” Rose shares. She continues to say that there are many great ways to incorporate this orange veggie into your summer meal plan.
“A sweet and tangy carrot salad or vinegar-based coleslaw are perfect ideas for a summer picnic or barbeque,” she says. Yet if you want to up your carrot intake with minimal effort, you can always have carrot sticks or baby carrots on hand to snack on—whether you enjoy them alone or with your favorite dip, such as hummus. Another great option: “Drink some fresh carrot juice for serious nutrition and hydration,” Rose advises.
Cucumbers are among the most versatile recommendations on this list of hydrating foods—not to mention they contain as much as a whopping 96 percent water content. Moreover, Rose notes that they’re low in calories, protein, and fat, as well as a good source of fiber. And given their lean composition, cucumbers “don’t pack on the pounds, making them a dietary freebie you can’t afford to pass up,” she continues.
To integrate more cukes into your rotation, Rose suggests adding some alongside your entree for extra moisture and crunch. (Of course, you can always chow down on them raw alongside your carrots and dip as recommended above.) In addition, she highly recommends cooling off with cucumber-infused water. “Add sliced fresh cukes and water to a large pitcher, refrigerate overnight, and enjoy,” she instructs. “Talk about refreshing!”
If you’re like me and love salads, you’ll be pleased to know that lettuce is another great RD-approved hydrating food. “Containing around 95 percent water and a significant amount of vitamin K—which helps to build bones and make proteins that are needed to help the blood clot—lettuce is a nutritious food that can be incorporated into plenty of entrees,” Rose says.
So whether you’re keen on continuing to munch on your favorite salad, substituting leafy greens to wrap your char-grilled burger, or preparing Asian-inspired lettuce cups or wraps, Rose says that prioritizing lettuce is a sure way to make your meals healthier and hydrating to boot.
The first fruit on this list, strawberries contain as much as 90 to 99 percent water—so Rose encourages feasting on this sweet summer staple to your heart’s content. Hydrating prowess aside, Rose emphasizes that strawberries are also rich in vitamin C. “Vitamin C is an antioxidant and required for collagen synthesis, which is an essential component of connective tissue,” she explains—not to mention it supports plumper, brighter skin from the inside out.
Strawberries are wonderful as a healthy snack, appetizer, or delicious dessert. “If you want a fun way to use them, try adding blended strawberries to the cucumber soda recipe above,” Rose suggests. “Other than that, a classic strawberry shortcake or berry smoothie are great options.”
The next water-rich produce item Rose wants to call out is tomato, which boasts around 93 to 95 percent H2O. “This versatile powerhouse is low in calories, contains calcium, potassium and phosphorus, as well as vitamins A, C, and E,” she explains. “Vitamin E, in particular, is important for the proper functioning of the immune system and serves as an antioxidant.”
With so many tomato varieties to choose from—heirloom, cherry, Roma… the list goes on and on—there are even more ways to integrate them into your summer meals. “A refreshing Greek salad, margarita pizza, or simple BLT are great options [to boost] your tomato intake,” Rose continues. (Pardon the pun, but my mouth is watering already.)
No list of hydrating foods for summer could possibly be complete without mentioning this crowd favorite—not to mention its name in and of itself. “Although it’s quite obvious that it has water (approximately 92 percent), watermelon has other nutritive benefits,” Rose shares, with two cups of watermelon packing:
- 80 calories
- no fat
- a good source of vitamin A
- potassium, magnesium, thiamin, and phosphorus
Moreover, she mentions the impressive nutrient profile of watermelon seeds. “Who knew that there are 10 grams of protein in one ounce of sprouted, shelled and dried watermelon seeds?” she adds, speaking to this summer staple’s benefits for muscles, bones, and overall strength.
Aside from slicing it up and eating it plain, there are other RD-approved ways to enjoy this sweet treat. To get creative, try adding it “in a balsamic watermelon chicken salad or watermelon margaritas,” Rose suggests.
In conclusion, Rose leaves us with a simple fact. “It’s as clear as a clean cup of water: hydration matters,” she says. “So eat and drink as much water as you can this summer; your body will thank you.”
For more dietary tips, tricks, and insights, be sure to follow Kim Rose on Instagram.