The best foods to eat during the heatwave - and the ones to avoid

Keep cool with these hydrating (yet delicious) foods...

The best foods to eat in a heatwave - woman picking up sprig of broccoli
(Image credit: Getty Images)

When the weather heats up, our bodies need every little bit of TLC we can give them. So while we can regulate our body temperature with fans and ice packs, we can also make some small dietary tweaks to help our bodies handle the heat. Namely, by consuming more foods with a high water content. 

Of course, there is nothing better than a glass of water to keep us hydrated and cool on the hottest days of the year. Hydration is key when the weather becomes unusually hot and dry which is why we recommend drinking water above anything else. However, if it's your appetite you need to satisfy then there are some delicious yet hydrating foods you can eat to help you keep feeling your best even on the warmest day of the year.  

So if you're wondering how to keep cool, these are the foods you should turn to... 

The best foods to eat in a heatwave - watermelon salad on outdoor table

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The number one food for hydration? Cucumber, according to plant-based food company Grubby who released their findings of the top four most hydrating foods to help us stay refreshed and cool. 

They found that the top three foods offering the best water content are cucumber, lettuce and tomatoes. 

Not surprisingly, cucumber scored the highest with its 96% water content. Cucumber is not only the most thirst-quenching of the foods but it’s probably the most versatile and easy to get into your everyday meals. Whether it’s sandwiches, salads, snacks or even within your drinks, cucumber is the perfect food to add a hydrating boost to your day. 

Another predictable high scorer on the hydration scale is lettuce, once again very versatile but perhaps not as much as cucumber, depending on how often you find yourself snacking on lettuce. Consisting of 96% water it’s an easy and super light way of adding some water content to your sandwiches and salads whilst keeping your sugar and calorie intake low. 

To finish off the salad trifecta - tomatoes come in third. Whether you expected it or not, tomatoes have an impressive water content of 95%. Not only can tomatoes keep your hydration up but they're also very high in Vitamin C, which is great for strengthening our immune system and helping lower blood pressure. 

If salads aren't really your thing, however, there are some other delicious highly hydrating options you can choose from instead...

Other foods to keep you hydrated 

If you're looking to keep cool, check our guides on how to keep a bedroom cool or if you're struggling to catch some zzzs, find out how to sleep in the heat. However, if hydration is your aim, these foods can help:

The best foods to eat in a heatwave - watermelon on a picnic blanket

(Image credit: Getty Images)

1. Watermelon

The clue's in the name with this one! Watermelon has a super high water content and is the perfect cooling snack on a scorching day. Not only can you enjoy watermelon sliced, but there are also fun ways to incorporate it into meals and drinks. From watermelon salads to smoothies and ice pops, you can easily get your fix during breakfast, lunch or dinner. 

2. Strawberries

Keeping on with the fruit theme, strawberries are another great choice as the weather heats up. Leading Dietitian, Ro Huntriss, says fruits like strawberries with high water content make great snacks. She explains, "They not only quench your thirst but also provide essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants." The benefits of strawberries truly are endless. 

Similar to watermelon, there's no stopping you with the creative ways you can serve strawberries - we're fans of serving them with ice cream, though.

The best foods to eat in a heatwave - woman making smoothies with banana and avocado

(Image credit: Getty Images)

3. High-potassium foods

These foods may not exactly jump out as particularly hydrating but according to Huntriss, who is also the founder of Fertility Dietitian UK, foods such as bananas and avocados can be really helpful in the heat. 

She explains, "High potassium content foods can help replenish electrolytes lost through sweat and even prevent muscle cramps." Electrolytes are hugely important when staying healthy during hot weather, having low amounts can lead to fatigue and further dehydration. 

4. Light snacks

As well as choosing light and water-based foods it's also great to choose meals that are light and easy to digest. Often our appetites are lower than it's hot, too, so if we're eating less, it's important to reach for nutrient-rich foods. "When it comes to snacking, opt for light and nutritious snacks such as yogurt with berries, chilled gazpacho soup, or hummus with fresh vegetables," recommends Huntriss.

Foods to avoid in hot weather 

There are some foods you should probably try to steer clear of when dealing with high temperatures. Lead nutritionist at Lifesum, Signe Svanfeldt advises against the following foods during the hot weather:

  • Frozen foods - Although tempting on hot days, eating and repeatedly snacking on frozen foods like ice cream can actually have the opposite effect on our bodies that we think it will. Instead of cooling us down our bodies may actually raise our core temperature as a way to battle the sudden coldness. Instead of ice cream, Svanfeldt suggests making a delicious hydrating smoothie with water-based ingredients. 
  • Large meals - As mentioned previously it's best to eat lighter in hotter conditions.  Svanfeldt explains, "It can be wise to avoid eating too large meals during hot weather, as it can be more difficult to digest." She suggests instead to eat smaller meals more frequently throughout the day so our bodies don't need to work too hard to digest large meals and can keep at a similar level of warmth all day. 
  • Food with a high salt content - Consuming too much salt can severely dehydrate your body and therefore make a hot day feel a lot more uncomfortable. However, Svanfeldt does recommend having a small salty snack should you feel like your appetite is lost from the heat. This should get you in the mood for a slightly bigger more filling meal. 
Emily Smith
Digital news writer

Emily joined woman&home as a staff writer after finishing her MA in Magazine Journalism from City University in 2023. She specialises in lifestyle writing, both on her personal blog and also for previous work placements such as northern-based magazine Northern Life. Throughout her studies she has developed a love for entertainment reviews, sex and relationship writing and human interest stories.