Hydrating foods: The top 20 and their benefits
Eating healthful hydrating foods — especially during warm weather, when the body loses water and vital electrolytes through sweating — can keep hydration levels up and provide a variety of nutrients.
These 20 foods contain at least 85% water, making them a great choice for a person's hydration needs.
Water content: 96.73%
Although they do not boast the high vitamin and mineral content of some other fruits and vegetables, they do contain special nutrients called cucurbitacins, which some evidence suggests could have an antidiabetic effect.
Cucumber water is also a popular summer drink for people who do not like the taste of plain water. Learn about the benefits of cucumber water here.
2. Iceberg lettuce
Water content: 95.64%
Although this pale green, crunchy lettuce variety is not as nutrient dense as some of its leafy green counterparts, it still offers health benefits.
People may be surprised to learn that lettuce could help them fall asleep. Find out more in this article about sleep inducing foods.
Water content: 95.43%
Celery also makes a good snack. Popular serving ideas include spreading peanut butter or almond butter on the top, which adds lots of extra protein.
Water content: 94.52%
Although many people consider the tomato to be a vegetable, it is botanically a fruit that is rich in fiber, vitamins C and K, folate, and potassium.
Tomatoes also contain lycopene, which helps prevent cell damage. Tomatoes are the main source of dietary lycopene for people in the United States.
5. Romaine lettuce
Water content: 93.47%
Romaine lettuce is crisp and not far behind iceberg lettuce in terms of water content. Romaine lettuce offers more nutritional benefits. In general, darker greens are more healthful.
Romaine lettuce is a good source of vitamins C and K, as well as folate, vitamin A, and fiber.
Water content: 92.73%
Commonly called summer squash, zucchini contains manganese, potassium, magnesium, vitamins A, C, and K, and fiber.
It also contains antioxidants such as lutein and zeaxanthin, which may help fight damage to the body's DNA.
Water content: 91.45%
Watermelon is a staple food at many summer barbecues, as its hydrating benefits are a great fit for hot weather.
A cup of diced watermelon also contains just 45.6 calories.
Water content: 91.4%
This leafy green vegetable packs a lot of nutrition and fiber with very few calories.
It is a good source of magnesium and also contains calcium, iron, potassium, vitamin A, vitamin K, fiber, and folate.
Spinach makes a great base for salads. People can also blend it into a smoothie with sweet fruit. For those who find spinach too bitter, mixing it with sweet fruit in a smoothie can help balance out the taste.
Water content: 90.95%
Strawberries, with their sweet taste and high vitamin C content, are a popular berry.
Strawberries contain antioxidants that fight damage from free radicals. They are high in fiber and low in calories.
10. Skim milk
Water content: 90.84%
Skim, or fat free, milk is a healthful beverage to drink on its own, as well as a useful ingredient in cooking or for foods such as cereal.
11. Soy milk
Water content: 90.36%
Soy milk is a mixture of water and soybeans that forms a milk-like drink.
It is naturally high in water and a good choice for hydration.
Many commercial brands of soy milk contain added calcium, vitamin D, and several B vitamins.
Water content: 90.15%
Also known as muskmelon, cantaloupe is high in vitamin C and fiber, and it makes an excellent summer snack.
Like many other orange fruits and vegetables, it is also a source of beta carotene, which the body converts to vitamin A.
13. Honeydew melon
Water content: 89.82%
This sweet, yellow-green melon is a type of muskmelon that is a good source of potassium and vitamin C. It also contains folate, magnesium, and vitamin K.
Like most melons, it has a high sugar content. Learn about which types of melon are best for people who need to watch their sugar intake here.
Water content: 89.63%
Kale is a good plant based source of iron and some B vitamins, as well as anti-inflammatory phytochemicals.
Water content: 89.3%
Broccoli may not be the first food that comes to mind when people think of hydrating foods, but this cruciferous vegetable is almost 90% water.
It contains several different antioxidants and is also a source of fiber, iron, potassium, vitamin C, and vitamin K.
Try steaming broccoli or eating it raw to get the most out of its nutrients. Learn more about the health benefits of broccoli in this article.
Water content: 88.87%
This juicy fruit contains plenty of vitamins, including C, A, E, and K. It is also a good source of potassium and phosphorus.
People can eat peaches as a quick snack, or they can incorporate them into salsas, salads, or smoothies.
Water content: 88.29%
With their bright orange color, carrots contain a high amount of beta carotene, or vitamin A. Other varieties, such as purple and white carrots, usually have an orange core. This makes them a great source of vitamin A, as well.
They are also a good source of potassium, folate, vitamin K, and fiber.
Beta carotene benefits the body in a variety of ways. Learn about which foods contain the most beta carotene here.
Water content: 86.75%
Known best for their vitamin C content, oranges are also rich in fiber and potassium. Citrus fruits can also help the body absorb iron from other foods.
Water content: 86%
This spiny, tropical fruit is packed with nutrition, including vitamin C. It also contains magnesium, potassium, manganese, and B vitamins.
It contains bromelain, an enzyme with anti-inflammatory effects.
Water content: 85.56%
Apples come in many varieties, from deep red and crunchy to green and crisp.
In general, apples are a good source of water, but they also contain plenty of fiber, vitamin C, and antioxidants such as quercetin and catechin.
Alternatives to water
Water is the most healthful beverage, as the body can easily use it, and it contains no additives, calories, sugar, or other ingredients.
However, some people do not like the taste of plain water or simply want more variety.
People can stay hydrated by adding fruits, vegetables, and herbs to water, which will add flavor without adding calories or sugars. Some options to add include:
- mint leaves
Try crushing these foods before mixing them in to bring out their natural juices and flavors, or let them soak in a pitcher of water in the refrigerator for several hours.
Many herbal teas are good alternatives to water. Look for varieties without added sugar or sweeteners. People who enjoy green or black teas may wish to sip on decaffeinated varieties to stay hydrated.
For people who often drink soda, switching to sparkling water with lemon or lime can drastically reduce their daily sugar intake.
Is caffeine dehydrating?
Nonetheless, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) suggest that people limit their caffeine consumption to 400 milligrams (mg) per day. This is roughly four to five cups of coffee.
Some people may need to consume much less than the 400 mg recommendation if they are sensitive to caffeine, are pregnant, have anxiety, or have certain health conditions.
Most people can stay hydrated by sipping water throughout the day and by consuming hydrating foods. There is no set amount of water that is right for everyone.
In general, a person may need to increase their water intake if they:
- are exercising and sweating
- are in a hot environment
- have certain health conditions
- are pregnant or breastfeeding
As well as drinking enough water, limiting intake of salty foods can also reduce a person's risk of dehydration.
Snacks such as chips and packaged crackers, as well as cured meats and canned soups, are just a few of the salty foods that can decrease a person's hydration level.
Many people think that sports drinks are a good alternative to water. Sports drinks contain electrolytes such as sodium and potassium, which can be helpful during vigorous exercise or prolonged exposure to heat.
However, most of the time, plain water is the best choice because it is free of sugars, sweeteners, and other additives.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommend limiting children's consumption of sports drinks because they can lead to excess calories and weight gain, as well as tooth decay.
Hydration is about more than drinking water. Many foods contain water and additional nutrients that are vital for good health.
Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables is a good way to supply the body with vitamins, minerals, and fiber, while adding to daily water intake.