15 foods that help you stay hydrated

Summer sun and outdoor fun can take a lot out of you — especially water. Water makes up at least 60% of your body, and it plays a vital role in keeping your body functioning as it should. But high temperatures and excessive sweating can cause you to lose water quickly.

The good news is that you don’t need to drink gallons of water to stay hydrated. You can also get needed water from the food you eat.

Here’s what you need to know:

Why hydration is important

You may not realize it, but water is an important key to feeling good. It helps regulate your body temperature, prevent infections, get rid of waste and deliver nutrients to cells. Water also plays a role in your mental wellness. Without enough, you could have trouble with sleep, memory, information processing and mood.

Common signs you’re starting to dehydrate include:

  • Constipation
  • Dry mouth
  • Dull skin
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches

How much water should you drink a day?

Sarah Adler, MS, RD, a performance dietitian with UCLA Health Sports Performance, Powered by Exos, suggests consuming ½ ounce to 1 ounce of water per pound of body weight daily. That amount will vary depending on a person’s weight and activity level, among other factors.

Drinking the recommended daily amount of water may seem daunting. The good news is that it doesn’t all need to be plain water. As you’d expect, you can get hydration from coffee, tea and flavored still or sparkling water. Your body can also absorb water from food.

Foods that hydrate you

Your body typically gets about 20% of the water it needs from the foods you eat throughout the day. Foods that typically provide the highest water content are raw fruits and vegetables. Eating a diet heavy in produce is a good way to give the body vitamins, minerals and fiber while increasing your daily water intake.

Any fruits and vegetables with more than 80% water content are a great choice. But these foods (all with a water content greater than 92%) offer the best bang for your buck when it comes to getting the water your body needs:

1. Cucumber (96%)

If you love the crunch of a cucumber, you’re in luck. Cucumbers have the highest water content of any solid food.

2. Iceberg Lettuce (96%)

Darker greens do provide more fiber, folate and vitamin K. But when it comes to staying hydrated, crispy iceberg has the goods.

3. Celery (95%)

In addition to being full of water, celery is a great source of fiber. Add some protein-rich nut butter and you have a healthy (and thirst-quenching) snack.

4. Radishes (95%)

This root veggie is full of flavor, vitamin C and fiber but low in calories. Add them to a green salad or grate them into a summer slaw.

5. Romaine Lettuce (95%)

This dark, leafy green packs in a lot of water but also provides many nutritional benefits. Romaine is a good source of vitamins C and A, folate and fiber.

6. Tomatoes (94%)

Many people think of tomatoes as vegetables, but they are actually the fruit with the highest water content. They also contain lycopene, which helps prevent cell damage.

7. Zucchini & Summer Squash (94%)

Whether you eat summer squash cooked or raw, it provides the same amount of water. So don’t be afraid to throw some zucchini on the grill next to your turkey burger.

8. Asparagus (92%)

With its rough texture, most people choose to eat cooked asparagus. But its water content is the same whether you eat it cooked or raw, so go ahead and grill up some spears.

9. Bell peppers (92%)

All shades of bell peppers will quench your thirst, but green ones lead the pack in water content. As a bonus, bell peppers are high in antioxidants.

10. Cabbage (92%)

All common varieties of cabbage contain a lot of water raw and even more when cooked (94%). Some Chinese cabbages, such as bok choy, are 96% water and taste great tossed into a salad.

11. Cauliflower (92%)

If you love riced cauliflower, but don’t like to eat it raw, you’re in luck. Cooked cauliflower, like cabbage, provides even more water (93%) than eating it raw.

12. Mushrooms (92%)

The health benefits of mushrooms are impressive. But to get the most water from your shrooms, eat them raw.

13. Spinach (92%)

Spinach is a great summer staple for salads and smoothies. In addition to its high water content, it’s packed with nutrition including calcium, magnesium, iron and potassium.      

14. Strawberries (92%)

These sweet berries are a great choice when you’re hot and sweaty. They’re low in calories, but high in water, fiber and vitamin C.

15. Watermelon (92%)

It’s no surprise that watermelon will hydrate you. But, like tomatoes and other red fruits and veggies, it’s also a great source of lycopene.

If you have questions about how much water you should be getting, reach out to your primary care physician.



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