It’s still a hot summer here in the South, but the nights are getting cooler. In fact, they’ve been cool enough that some evenings we’re able to sleep with our windows open. With the change of the seasons on the horizon and the summer days getting shorter, it’s important to remember that hydration is a year-round and key factor in our health. During warmer days, hydration can keep us from overheating and prevents headaches. During the winter months, proper hydration can help us increase energy during the shorter days and prevent dry skin.
If I asked you what’s the best way to stay hydrated, I bet your answer would be water! But not just any water, you want only the best of the best, and that means good, clean, filtered H2O or even water straight from the spring itself. But did you know that there is another way to help keep you hydrated? Food! Think about summer crops. Many of these fruits and vegetables not only provide us with essential nutrients and vitamins (think building your skin’s defenses against the sun), but they also help keep you hydrated. Yep! Eating seasonally is the best for our bodies. So next time you go to your farmers market, try finding local produce that will help keep you cool and hydrated during these last summer days!
Here are just a few of my favorite picks:
Strawberries: These juicy berries are packed full of antioxidants like vitamin C. But beware! Strawberries are pretty fragile and have a short shelf life, so it’s best to eat them within two days or their vitamin C content begins to decrease.
Celery: This crispy vegetable is a great source of vitamins, but the most notable is vitamin K. Vitamin K can be broken into K1, K2, and K3. K1 is what you will find in leafy greens and can contribute to blood clotting (which is necessary for our health and not always a bad thing) and bone health. Celery is also really fibrous, which is great for our digestive health.
Watermelon: This fruit is a great choice for anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits. Lycopene is the nutrient that stands out, providing these awesome benefits. The benefits of lycopene increase as the melon ripens, so choose a riper watermelon next time you head to the grocery store. (For more information on how to know if a watermelon is ripe, click here).
Grapes: For such a small fruit, grapes provide big health benefits. They may be one of the most researched fruits due to the resveratrol found in the skin of red grapes. Grapes provide antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and cardiovascular health benefits. Try freezing grapes as a frozen sweet treat!
Spinach: Yep! Spinach is actually a little more than 90 percent water. These leafy greens are also a great source of vitamin E, which help rid the body of damaging free radicals. Popeye might have been onto something, too, because spinach is a good source of iron, which can help decrease fatigue and prevent hair loss. Well, maybe he didn’t hit the mark when it came to hair loss. 😉 Try adding spinach to your next sandwich or salad.
Tomatoes: Tomatoes are another great source of vitamin C and lycopene, which help rid the body of free radicals and decrease risk of cancer. More specifically, lycopene has been linked to prostate cancer. These too are great on sandwiches, tacos, or salads. But don’t forget about cherry and grape tomatoes! They are a super easy snack to bring with you to work, out running errands, or a road trip.
Cucumbers: It’s not surprise here that cucumbers are full of water (95 percent), but did you know that they are also full of vitamin C and many of nutrients and minerals? Almost too many to name! Add sliced cucumber to salads, sandwiches, or snack on them raw.
Question: What is your favorite way to stay hydrated in the summer heat?