Today we discuss one of our favorite topics: vegetables! Water-rich veggies like lettuce and celery hydrate our bodies twice as effectively as drinking a glass of water. Not only that, but they can help regulate body temperature, eliminate unwanted toxins, and provide a comfortable environment for our tissues and joints. When you’re done exercising, for example, don’t reach for a sports drink that’s packed with artificial colors and flavors. Instead, cut up a cucumber and enjoy it as a post-workout snack.
While it’s true that high water content vegetables are good for you, our main concern today is getting the most nutritional value out of our food. Take the wedge salad—with 95% water, iceberg lettuce (plus the add-ons of blue cheese dressing and bacon) is definitely not the healthiest of options.
Let’s take a look at five foods that contain a high percentage of water and how we can make them more nutritious for us:
With 96% water, cucumbers (technically a fruit but considered a vegetable) are naturally low in calories, carbs, sodium, and fat. As part of the plant family with squash and melons, cucumbers have antioxidants, anti-inflammatory benefits, and nutrients that include potassium and vitamin K. How can we add more, though?
1/2 cup cucumber, peeled and sliced
3/4 cup frozen strawberries
1 large banana, broken into pieces
1 1/2 cup vanilla almond milk
1 1/2 cup kale, loosely packed, stems removed
Large handful of spinach
Add the almond milk to a high-power blender, adding the banana pieces and kale.
Blend on high, then add the strawberries and cucumber.
Continue blending until smooth. (Add in more almond milk and/or ice for desired consistency.)
With 95% water, iceberg lettuce should be tossed (no pun intended) and romaine lettuce should be in. A heart-healthy green, romaine has far more metabolism-boosting nutrients and a higher content of vitamin C. Beyond romaine, dark leafy greens like spinach, arugula, and kale have great health benefits, too. Basically, the darker the lettuce, the more nutritious it is.
Cilantro-Lime Romaine Salad
6 cups romaine lettuce
3 tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp shallots, minced
1 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 garlic clove, crushed
1/2 cup yellow bell pepper, diced
1/4 cup green onions, sliced
Combine first eight ingredients in a large bowl, stirring well with a whisk.
Add lettuce, bell pepper, and green onions, tossing gently to coat.
Known for providing digestive tract and cardiovascular support, celery contains 95% water and approximately 16 calories per serving when chopped. Celery is also rich in certain vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A and K. Note: Look for light green celery that is crisp and firm. While they have the most nutritional value, there’s still room for more!
Crisp Celery-Apple Salad
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 cups apple, thinly sliced
2 cups celery, sliced
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/3 cup red onion, sliced
Combine first four ingredients, then add apple and remaining ingredients
Toss and serve!
Another fruit, but we’ll call it a vegetable today, tomatoes have 94% water and remain a valuable part of any healthy diet. They contain vitamins C and K, folate, and potassium, while supporting bone health and offering anti-cancer benefits! Tomatoes are also beneficial for skin health, and come in a variety of colors, including red, yellow, orange, and green. Below is a tasty recipe that can give you more nutrition out of your tomatoes:
Fresh Tomato Salsa
2 cups tomatoes, chopped
1/3 cup yellow or white onion, chopped
2 tbsp cilantro, chopped
2 tbsp lime juice
1 jalapeño, stemmed, seeded and finely chopped
Pinch of salt to taste
Put all ingredients into a bowl and toss well.
Serve at room temperature and enjoy!
Green cabbage contains 93% water and belongs to the Brassica family that includes Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale, and broccoli. This fresh and dark-green vegetable is incredibly nutritious, and low in fat and calories, which we love! For instance, it has been said that the high content of vitamin C and sulfur can remove unwanted toxins while cholesterol-lowering benefits present themselves if cabbage is steamed. So, trim off the stem and discard any withered outer layer leaves, and let’s get this party started.
1 medium cabbage, trimmed
4 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp garlic, minced
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
Trim the cabbage, shred, then place in a colander and rinse.
Transfer the rinsed cabbage to a large, deep skillet, without drying it off (the water adhering to the cabbage will allow it to steam).
Turn the heat on medium-high and cover. When the cabbage starts to steam, lower the heat to medium.
Steam covered for 5-7 minutes, or until tender. Uncover and cook for 2 more minutes to allow any remaining water to evaporate.
Add the butter, garlic, salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes, stirring to combine. Cook for 2-3 more minutes, stirring until butter has melted. Serve warm.
It’s true that eating vegetables with high water content is one of the easiest ways to improve your hydration and health, but it never hurts to add a little more nutrition to your diet. We’d love to know your tips on adding nutritional benefits to your veggies! Please share them with us in the comment section below. As always, HealingRadius wishes you a happy and healthy holiday season!
Allyson Miller is a bookworm, history nerd and outdoor enthusiast who loves writing creative and informational content for SBT in Rock Hill, SC. Depending on the day, you can find her with her nose in historical documents, shopping for trendy exercise outfits or trying new cooking recipes. Allyson dreams that one day, engineers will figure out a way to build roller coasters sans the incline, ridding her of coasterphobia.