This summer has been one of the hottest on record for the Pacific Northwest, which makes it much easier for us to become unknowingly dehydrated. During the heat waves, have you felt sluggish? More tired than usual? Have muscle weakness? Dizziness? Slow thought processes? These are all symptoms of dehydration.
Drinking water is the best way to stay hydrated, but if you are getting a little bored with pounding 8-10 glasses of water a day, consider getting some of your daily water from fruits and veggies, which typically make up about 20% of our daily water intake. A favorite among the staff at Equilibrium, with the second most water content of any fruit or vegetable after iceberg lettuce, is watermelon.
Ultra Hydrating: The amazing watermelon has a whopping 93% water content. One cup is considered a serving, but it is awfully easy to chow down on twice the amount of this refreshing fruit during a heat wave.
Nutrient Dense: Don’t be fooled by this watery fruit: Leading scientific research has returned some surprising additional health benefits besides hydration. Watermelon supplies high levels of lycopene-a carotenoid phytonutrient that is essential to cardiovascular and bone health that many only associate with tomatoes. Lycopene is a well-known antioxidant that fights free radicals in the body, and is responsible for the watermelon’s reddish pink colored flesh. Watermelon is also an excellent source of Vitamin C. If you eat the seeds, your body gets added zinc and iron.
Reduces Muscle Soreness: Watermelon is rich in the amino acid citrulline, which our kidneys process and turn into another amino acid, arginine. A common enzyme in our body, nitric oxide synthase (NOS), uses arginine to produce a small molecule of gas, nitric oxide (NO). NO acts as a muscle relaxer by telling the smooth muscle in our blood vessels to relax, which decreases blood pressure and increases blood flow and muscle relaxation.
Don’t Just Survive, Thrive During the Heat Wave
Stay healthy this summer and all year round: drink 8-10 glasses of water a day, supplement your water intake with vegetables and fruits high in water content, and pay attention to the warning signs of dehydration. For more information on the health benefits of watermelon, please visit the World’s Healthiest Foods webpage at http://whfoods.org/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=31
Try This: Summer Tomato-Watermelon Salad with Feta and Almonds
(Adapted from Epicurious)
8 cups 1 1/4-inch chunks seedless watermelon (about 6 pounds)
3 pounds ripe tomatoes (preferably heirloom) in assorted colors, cored, cut into 1 1/4-inch chunks (about 6 cups)
1 teaspoon (or more) fleur de sel or coarse kosher salt
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons chopped assorted fresh herbs (such as dill, basil, and mint)
6 cups fresh arugula leaves or small watercress sprigs
1 cup crumbled feta cheese (about 5 ounces)
1/2 cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted
Combine melon and tomatoes in large bowl. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon fleur de sel or kosher salt and toss to blend; let stand 15 minutes. Add 4 tablespoons oil, vinegar, and herbs to melon mixture. Season to taste with pepper and more salt, if desired.
Toss arugula in medium bowl with remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Divide arugula among plates. Top with melon salad; sprinkle with feta cheese and toasted almonds and serve. Enjoy your antioxidants!