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"Drinks that contain electrolytes — minerals that help increase hydration — are ideal for restoring and replenishing your skin," says Carly Knowles, R.D.N., the author of The Nutritionist's Kitchen (Buy It, $18,
$25, amazon.com). More importantly, electrolytes balance the amount of water in your body, move nutrients into cells and waste out of them, and and help your nerves, muscles, heart, and brain work properly. If your electrolyte levels get too low — such as by sweating during a tough workout — you run the risk of dehydration, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. Yikes.
While you can sip on sports drinks to keep your levels up, those beverages often pack a lot of sugar. A bottle of strawberry watermelon Gatorade, for example, contains 35 grams of added sugar. Meanwhile, the 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends limiting consumption of added sugars to less than 10 percent of your total daily calories. (For someone who eats about 2,000 calories per day, for example, that means no more than 200 calories should come from added sugars — about 12 teaspoons or 50 grams.) Meanwhile, the American Heart Association recommends even less: just 25 grams or 100 calories per day.
A better-for-you, thirst-quenching alternative? Knowles' watermelon cooler. The drink contains coconut water, which boasts electrolytes potassium, sodium, magnesium, and phosphorus, and hydrating fruits such as watermelon and cucumber.
When your taste buds are ready for a change, you can switch up the watermelon cooler's flavor profile by following a simple formula: First, juice or muddle electrolyte-rich fruits and vegetables — such as berries, tomatoes, coconut, cucumbers, or leafy greens. Then add flavor with fresh lemon, lime, or orange juice; fresh herbs; and a little maple syrup or honey if desired.
Finally, the secret ingredient: a pinch of sea salt. Your body needs a small amount of it to bring fluid into your cells, says Knowles. Use sea salt with pink or brown flecks — these are the actual mineral deposits, and sea salt contains more minerals than the white kind does. Top your bevvie — whether it be Knowles' summery watermelon cooler or your own concoction — with still or sparkling water and drink up.
Available at Amazon
Coconut Watermelon Cooler
12 mint leaves (plus more for garnish)
1/2 cucumber, sliced into thin rounds (plus 1 slice for garnish)
Juice of 1 lime
1/2 cup coconut water
1/2 cup watermelon juice
1/2 cup sparkling water
Fill 2 pint-size glasses with ice. In a large metal shaker, muddle 12 mint leaves, 1/2 cucumber sliced into thin rounds, and a small scoop of ice.
Add the juice of 1 lime, 1/2 cup coconut water (which naturally contains salt), and 1/2 cup watermelon juice. Cover tightly, and shake vigorously for 30 seconds.
Strain the watermelon cooler into prepared glasses, and top each with 1/2 cup sparkling water. Garnish with more mint leaves and a cucumber slice.