The Top 15 Foods for Hydration

Adequate hydration promotes waste removal, protects the spinal cord and other delicate tissues in the body, lubricates and cushions joints, and helps control body temperature. Drinking enough water also reduces the risk of dehydration, which can cause mood swings, constipation, dizziness, and an increased risk of kidney stones.

According to a 2023 National Institutes of Health study, persons who drink enough water may also live longer, be healthier, and experience fewer chronic illnesses like heart and lung disease. According to researchers, maintaining adequate hydration can prolong life, prevent or postpone chronic illnesses, and slow down the aging process.

Water is a crucial part of your daily fluid intake, but it’s not the only thing you should consume. Many foods also include water, and some of them are highly hydrating. These 15 meals can help you achieve your daily fluid demands. You can also see how much water each food contains and the additional health advantages they bring.

1. Cucumber

One whole cucumber (approximately 8.25 inches in length), the most hydrated food on the list, has just 45 calories and more nutrients than a full cup of water.

This medium-sized, skin-on cucumber offers more than 40% of the Daily Value (DV) for vitamin K. This essential vitamin promotes bone health and is required for healthy blood clotting, which stops bleeding in the event of an unintentional injury.

Cucumber can be eaten raw, added to salads, sandwiches, and sushi, or sliced and topped with nutritious spreads like herbed tahini or vegan pesto. Additionally, cucumbers can be pureed and used as the foundation for a refreshing cocktail or incorporated into smoothies.

2. Broccoli

With just 21 calories per cup of sliced zucchini, zucchini is a low-calorie food. Its water content is complemented with antioxidants that guard against DNA damage, which can result in illnesses like cancer. Along with lower levels of potassium, magnesium, and B vitamins, a cup portion provides around 25% of the daily target for vitamin C.7.

Zest zucchini and shred, then incorporate into oatmeal or overnight oats, or blend into smoothies. Combine fresh veggies, herbs, white beans, and spiralized zucchini noodles or ribbons with extra virgin olive oil. Add zucchini to stir-fries, salads, chili, brownies, spaghetti meals, and even sweets like apple cobbler, carrot cake, and brownies.

3. Celery

This crisp, refreshing celery is packed with potent antioxidants that are well-known for fighting off free radicals, as well as substances that your body naturally forms from metabolism and exposure to various environmental toxins. When free radical levels are excessive, they cause oxidative stress, which can harm cell DNA and raise your chance of developing diseases like diabetes and heart disease.

Use celery to mop up nutritious dips such as olive tapenade, guacamole, and hummus. Alternatively, for a sweet treat, stuff the hollowed-out portion of the stalks with nut or seed butter and garnish with chopped dark chocolate, shredded coconut, or dried tart cherries.

4. Tomatillos

Tomatoes have a high water content, low calorie count (22 for a fruit of this size), and a number of antioxidants in addition to potassium, iron, folate, and vitamin C. Antioxidants found in tomatoes have been related to reduced inflammation as well as defense against diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and neurological illnesses including Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. They also help with immunological, skin, gastrointestinal, and fertility health. The latter is due to their capacity to avert UV-induced damage and their anti-inflammatory properties. Vitamins A, C, and potassium from tomatoes have also been related to a decrease in wrinkles on the skin. Lastly, tomatoes lessen the cellular damage brought on by exercise.

Add tomatoes to avocado toast or a breakfast salad for breakfast, or mix them into a scramble of eggs, tofu, or chickpeas. Sliced fresh tomatoes can be served as a side dish with fresh basil and balsamic vinegar, or they can be added to salads, cold pasta salads, and sandwiches. Enjoy cherry or grape tomatoes as a snack, serve them with hummus, or present them on toothpicks with Mediterranean olives in between.

5. Broccoli

Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, kale, and cabbage are all members of the cruciferous vegetable family. Consuming cruciferous vegetables on a daily basis has been linked to a lower risk of cancer, especially colorectal cancer, according to numerous research. The impact is probably caused by natural compounds found in cabbage that fight germs and viruses, shield cells from DNA damage, deactivate molecules that cause cancer, and stop cancer cells from proliferating and spreading.

Eat cabbage raw, in salads and slaws, or as a topping for tacos or avocado toast to preserve the most water.

6. Mushrooms

Merely 15 calories are found in one cup of sliced mushrooms, making them incredibly low in calories. They are also brimming with beneficial bioactive substances. These consist of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and a few grams of plant protein. Natural immune-boosting, heart- and gut-supporting chemicals with anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic, anti-obesity, anti-aging, and anti-cancer properties can also be found in mushrooms.16

Savor mushrooms raw, spread with hummus, marinated in balsamic vinaigrette as a cool side dish, or sliced and added to salads to maintain the water content of these jewels. To avoid losing too much of the water, you can also gently sauté them over moderate heat.

7. Berries

In addition to fiber and vitamin C, strawberries are a great source of antioxidants that reduce inflammation. More than 3 grams (g) of fiber, 10% of the daily value, and more vitamin C than needed for a full day are all found in one cup of sliced strawberries.

Strawberries are a good source of polyphenol antioxidants, which have been related to protection against type 2 diabetes, obesity, heart disease, cancer, and neurological illnesses like Alzheimer’s.

Strawberries complement both savory and sweet recipes well. Serve them over pancakes, mix them into hot or cold porridge, blend them into smoothies, or serve them with dark chocolate hummus. Incorporate strawberries into cold grain dishes such as farro, quinoa, or wild rice, as well as garden salads, avocado salsa, and grilled tofu.

8. Melon

The sugar content of watermelon is lower than that of its natural sweetness. Diced watermelon contains little more than 9 grams of sugar per cup. According to a recent assessment of studies, watermelon, being high in antioxidants, has potential health benefits for the heart, gut, diabetes, weight control, and prevention of cancer.

Savor watermelon on its own or create a refreshing slushy cocktail by blending seedless chunks of watermelon with ice, mint, and fresh lime juice. Toss watermelon into salads and salsa; you can also add chopped dark chocolate, almonds, pumpkin seeds, or minced avocado to fresh cubes or balls.

9. A cantaloupe

Juicy cantaloupe is obviously high in water content, but it’s also packed full of other nutrients, like antioxidants.23 Beta-carotene, a pigment that doubles as a source of vitamin A, is responsible for the orange color of cantaloupe. More than a day’s worth of the recommended daily intake of vitamin A for adult women and men may be found in one cup of cantaloupe.24

Vitamin A aids in the efficient operation of the heart, lungs, and other organs and supports healthy immune system and vision.2526 Savor cantaloupe on its own or use it into salsa, slaw, and fruit or garden salads. Alternatively, purée cantaloupe to make a cool soup or delightful drink. A melon cut in half and seeded also works well as a dish for yogurt, cold tofu salad, or white bean salad.

10. Jicama

Just 45 calories, 10 grams of carbs, and an amazing 6 grams of fiber—more than 20% of the DV—are found in one cup of jicama.

According to a recent assessment of research, jicama is a plant that is underutilized yet has several health benefits, including immunological support, antioxidant, antiviral, anticancer, anti-diabetic, and anti-osteoporosis properties.28

Sliced raw jicama can be used similarly to carrot or celery sticks that are served with nutritious dips. Shaved jicama combined with mustard vinaigrette makes a wholesome cold side dish. Alternatively, use jicama slices, which are rounder and wider than tortillas, and stuff them with grilled or sautéed vegetables, black beans or lentils, and avocado slices.

11. Kale

Although 90% of kale’s makeup is water, each portion has less water overall. However, it belongs to the same family of cruciferous vegetables as cabbage and is a very healthful vegetable.

In addition to a plethora of minerals, such as antioxidants, vitamins A, C, and K, folate, potassium, calcium, magnesium, dietary fiber, and prebiotics that promote the growth of advantageous probiotic gut microorganisms, a 2-cup portion of kale has less than 20 calories.

Studies indicate that dietary habits rich in green leafy vegetables and fiber are associated with better blood sugar regulation and a decreased risk of type 2 diabetes.

Smoothies, salad dressings, pesto, hummus, soups, sandwiches, stir-fries—you name it—can all benefit from the addition of kale. It also retains its moisture when heated.

12. Tofu with Silk

Another hydrating protein choice is tofu, especially silken tofu, which has a higher fluid content than firm or extremely firm types. Tofu not only contains plant protein but also antioxidants known as isoflavones. According to a 2020 study, those with the highest isoflavone intake over a 20-year period had the lowest risk of heart disease.

But not every soy product provided the same level of safety. Men and women who ate tofu at least once a week had a lower risk than those who ate it less than once a month, but soy milk was not linked to a lower risk of heart disease. The beneficial impact of tofu on women’s health was observed among younger and postmenopausal women who had not undergone hormone therapy.

Silken tofu can be used as a foundation for creamy sauces, dressings, and dips, or mixed into smoothies. It is also a mainstay in vegan puddings, cheesecakes, and pies made with pumpkin, sweet potatoes, or chocolate.

13. Citrus fruits

About 50 calories and almost 40 mg of vitamin C—more than 40% of the daily value—can be found in half a grapefruit. Vitamin C is a nutrient that supports healthy skin, bones, and immune systems.

A review of studies also revealed that eating grapefruits was linked to a lower body weight, smaller waist circumference, lower body mass indices (BMIs), greater levels of “good” HDL cholesterol, lower blood fat (triglycerides) and C-reactive protein in women.

Halve a grapefruit, add some chopped nuts or diced avocado on top, then remove the triangles with a spoon. Alternatively, peel, cut, and include grapefruit segments into a stir-fry, slaw, yogurt parfait, or fruit or garden salad. Melt dark chocolate and dip grapefruit slices into it for a nutritious treat.

14. Pineapple

The third most popular fruit after bananas and citrus fruits, pineapple has antioxidants that reduce inflammation and promote digestive health.3940

Pineapples are a notable source of vitamin C, as they contain around 80 mg per cup, which is over 85% of the Daily Value. This tropical fruit also contains lower levels of potassium and magnesium, and the B vitamins that assist energy.

Pineapple can be blended into smoothies, used to slaws, salsa, stir fries, fruit or garden salads, and as a topping for chia seed pudding.

15. Cocoa-Bean

Although they absorb water when cooked, black beans are a hydrating protein choice even if you might not think of them as a food that is high in water.

Additionally, studies have demonstrated that beans promote gastrointestinal health, blood sugar regulation, weight loss, heart health, and reduced inflammation. In addition, they contain high levels of fiber, plant protein, antioxidants, and important minerals like calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, and potassium.42

When making salads, tacos, soups, stews, stir-fries, or dips to go with raw vegetables high in water content, use beans instead of meat.

What’s the Need for Water?

The recommended daily fluid intake for men is 3.7 liters (more than 15 cups of 8 ounces) and for women is 2.7 liters (more than 11 cups of 8 ounces), as per the guidelines set forth by the National Academy of Medicine. Based on these guidelines, a 2023 study that evaluated hydration status concluded that this quantity is enough for the majority of persons.

Approximately 20% of the fluids consumed each day are derived from food. This leaves roughly 96 ounces for men and 70 ounces for women each day; however, a higher consumption of foods high in water may meet a larger portion of your daily fluid requirements.

During the day, your body loses water through breathing, perspiration, and urination.44 The more water your body loses, the more fluids you need. This happens if you have diarrhea or vomiting, perspire (from activity or being in a hot environment), or both.

Generally speaking, those who exercise ought to:

  • Two hours prior to doing exercise, down roughly 16 ounces (2 cups) of water.
  • While working out, keep drinking water. Try to consume half to one cup of liquid every fifteen to twenty minutes. After the first hour, replace both hydration and electrolytes by switching to a sports drink instead of plain old water.
  • Even after you stop feeling thirsty, continue to drink water.
  • Six hours after your workout, drink 16–24 ounces (3 cups) of fluid for every pound of water lost during exercise.45

It’s crucial to remember that even if it’s challenging, consuming too much water is a possibility. By doing this, one may get hyponatremia, a disorder in which there is insufficient sodium in the blood.

To avoid overloading your system, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends never consuming more than 48 ounces of liquids in a single hour.47