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Cool as a Cucumber: Cool Off and Stay Hydrated with These Refreshing Summer Fruits and Vegetables

It’s summer, and the heat is on! I don’t know where you live, but here in my hometown of Ashland, Oregon, it’s supposed to be over 106 for the next three days. I’m betting a lot of you are feeling the heat right now too. Luckily, just when we most need them, cooling, hydrating fruits and vegetables are in season! (Nature is smart like that.)

It’s easier to get dehydrated than you think, especially during the hot months of summer. The human body is about 60 percent water, and it takes just a 1-2 percent drop in that percentage to make you dehydrated.[1] Chronic mild dehydration can cause fatigue, headaches, and constipation. It can also exacerbate health problems like high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

Drinking water is the simplest way to hydrate, of course, but food plays a role, too. In fact, about 20 percent of our daily water intake comes from food, most notably fruits and vegetables.[2] Bonus: when you cool off with fruits and veggies, you also reap the benefits of their vitamin, mineral, and fiber content.

Read on to find out which fruits and vegetables are the most hydrating, as well as creative ways to incorporate them into your diet.

Choose the juiciest fruits.

Snack on juicy fruits to quench your thirst and help you feel cooler. The most hydrating fruits include[3]:

· Watermelon and strawberries: 92 percent water
· Grapefruit: 91 percent water
· Cantaloupe: 90 percent water
· Peaches: 88 percent water
· Pineapple, cranberries, oranges, and raspberries: 87 percent water
· Apricots: 86 percent water
· Blueberries and plums: 84 percent water

Smoothies are a great way to get a whole lot of fruit in one meal or snack. Try this Carrot Apple Shake, which includes Juice Plus+ Complete for a boost of protein and fiber.

And how about serving this Watermelon-Feta Salad on a hot evening? The saltiness of the feta cheese compliments the sweetness of the melon perfectly.

Eat your vegetables cold.

On scorching days when you just don’t want to cook, make cold salads and soups with hydrating vegetables. The most hydrating vegetables include[4]:

· Cucumber and lettuce: 96 percent water
· Zucchini, radish, and celery: 95 percent water
· Tomatoes: 94 percent water
· Cauliflower, eggplant, red cabbage, peppers, and spinach: 92 percent water
· Broccoli: 91 percent water
· Carrots: 87 percent water

I love to serve this Cucumber-Tomato Salad in place of leafy green salad on hot summer days.

· Peel and chop up a cucumber
· Halve a bunch of cherry tomatoes
· Toss in some feta cheese
· Top with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and a little bit of salt

My sister just gave me her coveted recipe for Cucumber-Yogurt soup:

· 4 cucumbers
· 24 ounces plain yogurt
· handful of fresh cilantro
· 3 green onions
· ¼ cup lime juice
· 1-2 tablespoon olive oil
· black pepper to taste

Put all the ingredients in a blender or food processor and mix (in small batches if necessary). Top with halved cherry tomatoes and croutons or broken up whole-grain or gluten-free crackers.

What could be more appealing on a hot day than a Tomato-Mozzarella salad? Just chop the tomatoes, cube some fresh mozzarella, tear up some basil leaves, and dress with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and lunch is ready.

Even pasta lovers may warm up to Raw Zucchini “Pasta” on a hot summer day. Cut it into ribbons, using either a peeler or a special tool called a spiralizer; then top with your favorite pasta topping for a low-carb dinner.

Cabbage-based Coleslaw is a perennial summer favorite. Try these vinegar-based recipes, for a slaw that doesn’t rely on sweetened mayonnaise.

What are your favorite juicy summer fruits and veggies, and how do you like to prepare them?

References:

 

[1] http://www.cnn.com/2014/02/27/health/upwave-dehydration/

 

[2]  http://www.cnn.com/2014/02/27/health/upwave-dehydration/

 

[3] http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/list-fruits-vegetable-high-water-content-8958.html

 

[4] http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/list-fruits-vegetable-high-water-content-8958.html

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