Cool as a Cucumber

Hot enough for you, Shanghai ?  I bet you are all tired of hearing that question. Having just returned  to the city ( as in less than 24 hours) from the cool breezes of western New York in the United States, I am just beginning to sweat. The first question I asked as I stepped off the plane was, “How long is this going to last?” Well no matter how long the heat goes on, and if experience tells us anything, we will be sweating  until mid-September, there are foods you can eat that will help you stay cool.

You may have guessed that the fruits and vegetables with the highest water content are also the foods that contribute most to maintaining hydration and  being  well hydrated is the best way to stay cool in the hot and humid weather .

Cucumbers did not get that cool reputation by chance and they are first on the list when it comes to beating the heat. Cucumbers are 96% water and even though they don’t get mentioned very often for their nutritional value they do contribute to a healthy diet. Cucumbers are extremely low in calories, are a good source of fiber and are also a source of the polyphenols, lignans, the same cancer fighting substances found in cabbage and broccoli. Although cukes are  present in the market all year, summer is the traditional peak season for cucumbers. Cucumbers also work great to reduce puffy eyes from those late Shanghai nights!

The next one on the list is easy, the ubiquitous watermelon, and it isn’t called WATERmelon for nothing.  Hailing from the same family as cucumbers, watermelons are 92% water.  Also low in calories, watermelon  has the added nutritional benefits of being rich in  vitamin C and lycopene, a phyto-nutrient that is important for good cardiac health. Not only that, watermelon makes refreshing slushes and sorbets.

Cantaloupe and zucchini, also belonging to this family of fruits and vegetables, are two more  high-water, seasonal options that are  95% water.

Outside this water logged family is the very popular tomato.  Also at peak this time a year and well know for its rich nutritional value , fresh tomatoes are 94 % water. Don’t forget that fresh tomatoes and ice in the juicer make a tasty low calorie drink.

Last but not least is celery. A  super crunchy snack despite being 95% water.  Like the cucumber, celery is not generally noted for it’s nutritional value, however it is a surprisingly good source of calcium and potassium. And not so surprisingly, it is a great source of insoluble fiber, so important for a healthy digestive system.  Celery has a distinctive flavor that can add a bit of zip to any salad but I like it best in a cold tuna or chicken salad sandwich.

So hang in there Shanghai , like everything in life, this too shall pass!

Eat Well, Live Well , Stay Cool!