What do watermelon and mint have in common?

Both are on a dietitian’s short list of foods to keep you hydrated and cool for Independence Day and the rest of the summer.

Media Contact: Barbara Clements - 253-740-5043, bac60@uw.edu

The menu is often the centerpiece of summer celebrations. Registered dietitian Kelly Morrow says several foods can help keep you cool and hydrated in high temperatures. 

“Watermelon is a great food for the summer. It's great anytime. But it grows in the summer and it helps us to adapt to the heat really nicely,” said Morrow, of the Osher Center for Integrative Health within the department of Family Medicine at the University of Washington School of Medicine. “The thick rind helps keep the water in, so watermelon is about 90% water.” 

Morrow says other fruits and vegetables that have sturdy rinds, including cucumbers, promote hydration, as well as foods high in electrolytes such as yogurt and in-season tropical fruits. 

“They’re all very high in potassium, and that is an electrolyte that helps us keep water in our bodies,” she said.  

Foods containing mint can have a cooling effect because of menthol oil at work, which gives a cool sensation as it evaporates while being eaten. Another creative tactic to keep cool: eating spicy foods. 

“You might think that's counterintuitive, but spicy foods help you sweat a little bit – and sweating actually helps you to stay cool,” Morrow said. “Maybe enjoy some salsas or some cayenne pepper.” 

Above all, Morrow encourages pacing and protecting yourself from foodborne illness while gathering in large groups or outside. 

“When you're eating at a picnic, when you are camping, make sure that you keep food fresh and cold. If something's been cooked … make sure that you are eating that quickly and not letting it sit around because that can ruin your weekend.” 

Download broadcast-ready soundbites about summer foods that can cool and hydrate. 

UW Medicine