To me, nothing signals the start of beach-and-barbecue season more than biting into an ice-cold slice of watermelon. Whether the sweet, juicy flesh is pink or yellow, with seeds or without, watermelon’s a perfectly refreshing antidote for a steamy day. The summer-synonymous melon is perfect á là carte, but I also enjoy tempering its sweetness by tossing some cubes in a salad with salty feta and peppery arugula. You can even put the rinds to good use by infusing water with them using this recipe for Strawberry-Watermelon Water.In addition to being a naturally sweet alternative to my number-one summer indulgence, ice cream, watermelon also boasts a high water content. In fact, it tops this list of water-abundant produce, compiled by University of Kentucky researchers. Also on the list: strawberries, peaches, zucchini and red tomatoes, all of which are plentiful (and, in many cases, local) during the summer months.
If you’re as passionate about peaches or heirloom tomatoes as I am, you’ll be pleased to know of several reasons to incorporate more water-rich fruits and veggies into your diet. For one, they fill you up. “When my clients cut calories, often times they complain that they are starving,” says Cher Pastore, RD, a nutritionist in New York City. “But in addition to providing vitamins, minerals, and fiber, the water in certain foods can have a satiating effect — just as it does when you drink a glass of water before a meal.”
Of course, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing, which is why Pastore suggests limiting fruit servings (1 medium piece or 1 cup cut up) to three/day for men and four/day for women, unless you have Type 2 diabetes in which case you should discuss with your doctor or nutritionist how many servings to consume.
As you can see from this chart created by the USDA National Nutritional Database, which groups foods by the percentage of water they contain, you don’t have to rely solely on summer fruit to get your fill.
Here are a handful of my favorite ways to incorporate more water-abundant foods into my day:
Use lettuce wraps instead of bread
Order sushi rolls wrapped in cucumber rather than rice
Add a handful of baby spinach or kale to smoothies
Toss frozen watermelon cubes into water or seltzer Puree mixed berries and serve over Greek yogurt
Or try one of these summer-friendly recipes:
What ways have you found to incorporate more water-rich foods into your diet?
Michele Shapiro writes about food trends and healthy eating for websites including Refinery 29 and Clean Eating as well as Every Day with Rachael Ray Magazine. She strongly believes that a summer day without watermelon is a day without sunshine.