With the dog days of summer in full swing and the East enduring its fourth heat wave, many are reeling over the extreme temperatures. While it may seem like a good idea to reach for a fresh margarita when poolside, your cold beverage may have the opposite effect than you desired. Check out these five expert-recommended foods and drinks to cool yourself down as the afternoons heat up.
Staying hydrated is key to keeping cool. When the afternoon sun has you sweating, it's easy to dehydrate, leaving the body hot and fatigued. Lettuce is 95 percent water so it keeps you both cool and hydrated. Throw some cucumbers on top, which are 96 percent water, and you've found the ideal summer meal.
Not only is watermelon a summer staple for picnics and barbecues, but it's 90 percent water. "The pink flesh contains vitamins C and A and the antioxidant lycopene-which helps in protecting you from the sun too," according to Tanya Zuckerbrot, registered dietitian in New York City and the creator of The F-Factor Diet. "This is the perfect snack to cool off and replenish electrolytes that are lost as you sweat in the sun."
3. Hot Peppers
"Ironically, spicy foods are a great way to beat the heat. Eating something that will cause sweating, nature's way of cooling us down, will allow you to withstand the sun," Zuckerbrot said. Sweating can lead to dehydration, though, so make sure to consume substantial water throughout the day.
Fresh mint can be grown in the garden and provides an instant cooling sensation. It's a zero-calorie addition that will freshen any drink or snack.
5. Non-Alcoholic Beverages
"Skip the margaritas and mojitos. A summertime cocktail might seem like just the thing for a warm evening, but too much alcohol can cause your body to lose water," Karen Ansel, MS, registered dietitian nutritionist and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics said.
If water starts to sound bland, rethink your ice cubes, she suggests. Adding frozen berries, grapes or melon chunks to sparkling water is a refreshing way to switch things up.
If water still doesn't hit the spot, don't feel you have to ditch your iced coffee or tea, she explained. "Even though we've heard over and over that caffeinated drinks are dehydrating, it's just not true. According to the Institute of Medicine, caffeinated beverages like coffee and tea can still help keep you hydrated because they supply more water than their caffeine causes us to lose. So if they help you drink up, go ahead."