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What to eat and drink in a heat wave — and what to skip

Hydrating, no-cook foods are the order of the day when temperatures soar.
Heatwave Foods
The refreshing fruit and a little salty feta make for a perfect combo on a hot day.TODAY Illustration / Getty Images
/ Source: TODAY

A heat wave can make most of us want to avoid eating anything but ice cream, let alone cook. One of the biggest risks of this hot weather (besides just being sticky and uncomfortable) is getting dehydrated. But there are certain foods and drink that are especially hydrating — and fun to eat, even in the intense heat! Frances Largeman-Roth, RDN, nutrition expert and author of "Smoothies & Juices: Prevention Healing Kitchen" told TODAY Food in an email that there are certain foods you'll want to put on your shopping list when the temps run high. (And hey, the grocery store is air-conditioned so there's really no excuse!)

"The most hydrating foods are (in order): cucumber, iceberg lettuce, zucchini, radish, tomatoes, cabbage, strawberries, watermelon (strawberries and watermelon are tied at 92% water), sweet peppers and cantaloupe," she said.

Those are all foods that sound light, bright and delicious, even when you're standing in front of a fan for relief.

Largeman-Roth posted on Instagram that the often-maligned iceberg lettuce is a great choice in the heat. Coming in at 96 percent water, it's definitely hydrating.

When it comes to drinks, Largeman-Roth says that all of them will hydrate you (with the exception of booze). "So keep sipping the water, but tea and coffee — iced or hot — count too!" she said.

When it comes to good old-fashioned water, she suggests using an aluminum lined bottle to keep it cooler longer, and to try adding fresh herbs, lemon or orange slices to keep things interesting.

"Avoid drinking alcohol, but if you do, make sure to have one glass of water for every serving of alcohol," she said. "Also, it’s fine to have a little salt to help replace any that you’ve lost through sweat, but this isn’t the time to load up on salty BBQ or margaritas — you’ll just need to drink even more water! Aim for three liters daily on these super hot and humid days, especially if you’re exercising," she advised.

If you're not sure what to make for a meal, Largeman-Roth suggested a cooling salad. "I love making a watermelon-cucumber salad with feta, mint, a little sea salt and a squeeze of lime juice," she said. "Just cube the melon, chop the cucumbers, cube the feta, tear the mint and toss together. It’s perfect for a day like today, when it’s sweltering and you don’t have much of an appetite."

Frozen grapes are another way to nourish yourself and cool off at the same time. "Just rinse, dry and freeze for a few hours," she said. "They're great for snacks, especially when you pick the kiddos up from summer camp and they’re about to melt. Fruit-based ice pops are another tasty way to hydrate."

9 no-cook recipes to eat during a heat wave

In need of some more cooling recipes to get you through the week? Check these out:

Siri Daly's Watermelon, Blueberry and Feta Salad

The refreshing fruit and salty feta make for a perfect combo on a hot day.

Lettuce Wraps with Chicken and Avocado Salad

This recipe comes together quickly with a few simple ingredients. Suddenly we are no longer too hot to eat lunch!

Chicken and Shrimp Summer Rolls with Tamari-Ginger Dipping Sauce

Use shredded rotisserie chicken and thawed cooked shrimp to make Al Roker's cold Vietnamese-style summer rolls.

Japanese Cucumber Salad

All you need to make this easy and refreshing cucumber salad is five minutes and five simple ingredients.

Tuna Macaroni Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette

Skip the heavy mayonnaise and opt for a light, tangy vinaigrette to elevate this pasta salad that uses items you probably already have in your fridge or pantry.

Summer Salad

With the addition of tomatoes and cucumbers you'll definitely be getting plenty of H2O.

Summer Salad

Get The Recipe

Summer Salad

Elizabeth Heiskell

Giada's Red, White and Blue Salad

Cucumbers, grapes, blueberries and gorgonzola cheese make this a salad with tons of flavor.

Summer Crudites with Avocado Dip

If there was ever a time to eat this crunchy, cooling and creamy appetizer for dinner, it's during a heat wave.

Summer Crudites with Avocado Dip

Sheinelle's Grandma's Strawberry Jell-O Salad

Sheinelle's grandma says this recipe is a salad and a dessert. We say just go for it!