My mother was never a nag. I don’t think I ever remember her telling me to clean up my room, do my homework or other things parents often bother their children about. But the one thing she was adamant about was making sure my sister and I drank plenty of water. Call it “nudge” if you must, but I credit her insistence all those years to my healthy life today.

While I always heeded my mothers sage advice and still do to this day, I’ll admit that water can be boring. To jazz things up, beverage manufacturers have taken to elevating water to an art form, all at a pretty price. So if you are weary of constantly filling up your tumbler and shelling out dollars for fancy water, the good news is that high water content foods can step in and provide the hydration you need. I would never advise anyone to stop drinking their water, but you can relax a little by including more juicy fruits and crisp vegetables in your food program as a source of needed liquid.

I sat down with three of my favorite registered dietitians to discuss what fruits and vegetables would be on their list to keep you moisturized as the hot, humid and sticky days of summer are fast approaching.

 

Strawberries:

“Strawberries are hydrating because of their high water content. You wouldn’t know from looking at them, but they’re almost all water. In fact, 92% of their weight is from water!”, says Elisa Zied, MD, RD, CDN, author of Younger Next Week.

“But strawberries don’t just hydrate you; they nourish you as well. One cup (about 8 medium) strawberries provides an excellent source of vitamin C and a good source of fiber. Strawberries also pack in other valuable nutrients including potassium, folate, and antioxidants.

I’m kind of a purist and love to eat strawberries whole, sometimes with a small bit of whipped cream. And I don’t at all mind a chocolate covered strawberry. My family likes to eat them sliced atop oatmeal or cold cereal, or low-fat yogurt or frozen yogurt.”

 

Shopping and storage tips:

Select strawberries that are bright red with caps intact. Usually smaller berries are more flavorful with a less “cottony” texture then larger ones. Never pre wash strawberries and try to eat them as soon as possible.

 

strawberries1

 

 

Cucumbers:

That crunchy, refreshing vegetable is more than just a filler in a salad. Toby Amidor, RD, nutrition expert and author of The Greek Yogurt Kitchen: More Than 130 Delicious, Healthy Recipes For Every Meal of the Day says, “One medium cucumber contains 96% water and has about 40 calories. Cucumbers are very low in sodium and a good source of antioxidant vitamin C, potassium, and magnesium. One cuke also provides more than 60% of your daily recommended dose of vitamin K. My two favorite ways to use them are in a chopped Israeli salad, sliced into very small pieces with tomatoes and yellow peppers and then tossed in olive oil, lemon juice and a touch of sea salt. I also enjoy cucumbers paired with hummus for my afternoon snack”.

 

Shopping and storage tips:

Choose fresh cucumbers that are green and firm without any signs of discoloration or bruising. Avoid those that are moldy, mushy, shriveled, discolored or do not have their skin intact. Store fresh cucumbers in a plastic bag in the fridge for up to 7 days.

cukes2

Asparagus:

 

Ah…. asparagus. My very favorite spring vegetable has such wonderful nutritional qualities, it should be on your table now! According to Christy Wilson, RDN besides its hydrating effect, (it’s 93% water) asparagus also is useful for those hot summer days because of its diuretic effects. “In addition to the high levels of vitamins A, C, and K, asparagus also contains a high amount of the amino acid asparagine. Asparagine is a non-essential amino acid (meaning our bodies can synthesize it on their own) that has diuretic properties, as indicated in this 2010 study published in the West Indian Medical Journal . The diuretic effect helps the body get rid of excess fluid, which is especially helpful for people who have high blood pressure, congestive heart failure or suffer from edema or fluid retention.

My favorite ways to prepare it include grilled with olive oil and lemon and in stir-fries. And no need to be ” proper” when eating asparagus spears. Eat the stalks as the French do, use your fingers to pick up each delicate stalk and eat with gusto.

asparagus

 

Shopping and storage tips:

Choose medium-width asparagus for best taste and texture. Asparagus is sweetest in May and June. Look for bright green stalks and closed buds. Store in the refrigerator in a shallow pan of water and set the asparagus upright in the pan.

 

Cantaloupe

One of my fondest memories growing up was the lovely way my Mom would cut a wedge of cantaloupe into chunks and then squeeze lime over them to enhance the sweetness. With a water content of over 90%, this succulent fruit is perfect summer treat. Low in calories at 50 per cup, you get a full days worth of Vitamin A in every luscious bite.

I love to purée it with yogurt and fresh ginger for a cold melon soup that hits the spot on a sweltering day. But mostly, it’s one of those fruits that’s never boring to just eat straight from a cut wedge.

Shopping and storage tips:

Always take a good whiff of a cantaloupe before buying. It should have a sweet, musky scent. When pressed, the melon should give a little. Make sure the netting on the outside rind looks raised and preferably that it is a little more yellow then green colored underneath. A whole melon will stay in the refrigerator for 5 days. Once cut, use within 3 days. Try to leave the seeds in as long as possible to prevent the cantaloupe from drying out.

cantelope

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