Ever wonder why a salad hits the spot on a hot summer day? Yes, it's refreshing. But there's more. The vegetables are loaded with water – just the hydration you need when the temperature starts to rise.
In fact, iceberg lettuce, cucumbers, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach and tomatoes are all more than 90 percent water. That's more than many fruits, including grapes, oranges and apples. Research suggests that water consumption helps your skin look better, contributes to weight loss and prevents a variety of diseases.
So how much do you need? Some health experts advise that people should drink eight glasses of water a day. The Institute of Medicine recommends that the average man consume about 13 cups of beverages a day; about nine cups for women. Either way, eating vegetables is a way of fulfilling part of your daily water intake.
Here are a few ways to make that happen:
Go lean with green
- Iceberg lettuce is 96 percent water, and it has other benefits. It's a good source of fiber, vitamins A, C and K, and folate.
- Lettuce may be best known as a major player in salads and sandwiches. But to put a twist on things, create a lettuce wrap. Use a leaf or two to hold your favorite sandwich fixings.
- Cucumbers, meanwhile, can make a great addition to sandwiches, providing extra crunch, and they're welcome in just about any salad. They're 96 percent water and deliciously cool – and a good source of dietary fiber, as well.
Wetter than they look
- Though they don't appear to be moisture-laden, broccoli is 91 percent water and cauliflower is 92 percent water. And they're full of nutritional value. Both vegetables contain lots of vitamin C. Broccoli is also a major source of vitamins K and A. And research suggests that both broccoli and cauliflower protect the body against cancer. Add them to salads. Enjoy them with a low-fat dip. And, of course, they taste great steamed.
Ultimate power player
- Spinach is 92 percent water, and you don't need Popeye to tell you it's good for your body. Its nutritional benefits include being high in vitamins K, C and A, manganese, folate, magnesium and iron. Researchers think spinach may protect against a variety of cancers, including breast and prostate cancer. And studies suggest it may protect the heart, keep your stomach in order and slow the loss of mental function in old age. By itself, spinach is a fine side dish. And spinach salads are a time-honored favorite. But steamed spinach can also be added to other dishes, such as lasagna.
Go big red
- That juicy tomato taste is legitimate: It's 94 percent water. Refreshing and delicious, tomatoes come with a long list of health benefits. They're loaded with vitamins C, A and K, and researchers have linked tomatoes to better health for the colon, prostate and pancreas. Studies suggest they may also reduce heart disease and help lower cholesterol. Whether you add them to a sandwich, eat slices on their own or mix them into your favorite homemade specialty, tomatoes are sure to help keep you healthy and hydrated.