Water is vital for the maintenance of life.
Our biological processes, from digesting food to healing a wound, require water. Our organs, like the brain and kidneys, need it to function properly. Staying well-hydrated is essential for optimum health. So in this article, we talk about:
- The Dangers of Dehydration
- The 31 Most Hydrating Foods On The Planet
- The Foods That Can Cause Dehydration
The Dangers of Dehydration
Your body is losing water all the time. According to Jeffrey Berns of the National Kidney Foundation, the body loses one quart of water every day due to sweat and respiration. An additional three quarts is lost to urination. All of that is under normal conditions. In cases where heat and strenuous physical activities are involved, even more water is lost.
Dehydration is what happens when your body is losing more water than you’re taking in. Thirst and dryness of mouth are usually signals prompting you to have a drink soon because your body is low in water and is operating below optimum. You need to drink plenty of H2O because the body is continually expending it for different metabolic processes.
As the level of water in the body decreases, the symptoms become more pronounced. The person experiences:
- Dry skin
- Dark yellow urine
If the situation is not corrected immediately, continued water loss could lead to:
- Low blood pressure
- Weak pulse
- Rapid and deep breathing
In extreme cases, dehydration would eventually lead to death. Organs like the kidneys shut down. The person ceases to think rationally as the cells in the brain shrink. Hallucinations and delusions will be experienced, until, eventually, unconsciousness sets in.
Water is not only vital to life, it is central to the well-being of the person. So, in the next section, we talk about some of the most hydrating foods available for humans to eat.
The 31 Most Hydrating Foods
They don’t call it watermelon for nothing. The fruit is about 92% water.
It is one of the most hydrating fruits around, and a great thirst quencher for picnics and outdoor activities. In addition to its hydration properties, watermelons have also been known to promote healthy hair and complexion, boosting energy and helping bring down weight.
Strawberries help increase good cholesterol in your body, while at the same time lowering blood pressure and protecting your heart. They are absolutely packed with polyphenols, a class of antioxidants that help guard against diabetes, neurodegenerative diseases and cardiovascular conditions.
And, by the way, strawberries are 91% water.
Cantaloupes are a type of melon that is composed of 90% H2O. Because of this, cantaloupe is a friend to your kidneys and also aids with digestion in general.
In addition to being an H2O powerhouse, cantaloupes are packed with vitamins A, C and B9 (folate), which, together, help promote good health.
Grapefruit ranks up there with some of the best hydrating fruits around. Its water profile is 88% and it might just be one of the fruits you’re looking for if you’re trying to lose weight.
Grapefruits are light on calories but heavy on nutrients. They are also known to help with appetite control—giving you a feeling of fullness for longer periods.
The tropics boast of this elixir of life which is basically 95% water.
Coconuts, if you can find them, are a good thirst quencher. They are even better than water because the juice contains a cocktail of electrolytes composed of sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus.
Coconuts and its water have a long list of health benefits that include improved blood circulation, bone strengthening and cramp relief. If you’re worried about bloating, the fruit has anti-bloating properties. And, if you’re having a bad hangover because of dehydration, coconut juice can quickly add a spring to your step.
Peaches are delectable summer fruits that do more than hydrate you on a hot day. Compounds found in them have been proven to help prevent UV damage. Peaches are skin-friendly and promote the skin’s ability to retain moisture.
Eat a peach and you will certainly get more than what you bite into.
Oranges are some of the richest sources of vitamin C, which boosts protection against infection and diseases. The citrus fruit is also known as great for the skin, preventing damage that add to the signs of aging.
But most of all, oranges are great sources of H2O, being 88% water.
Kiwis are not only a water-rich fruit, they also have a healthy concoction of vitamins and minerals that include vitamins A, B6, B12, E, and potassium, calcium, iron and magnesium. And, because of their alkaline nature, kiwis are great in countering the effects of acidic foods that upset the body’s pH balance. On top of all that, kiwis have omega 3 fatty acids, carotenoids and polyphenols that make it one of the friendliest foods for the heart.
Bananas are one of nature’s greatest gifts. Not only do they taste good and hydrate you really well, they are also good for your general health. Bananas are linked to a host of benefits including improved digestion, improved insulin sensitivity (which is crucial for persons with diabetes) and improved kidney function.
Bananas are rich in potassium, which is vital in controlling your blood pressure. And, if you’re suffering from exercise-related aches and cramps, eating a banana will help tone down the discomfort.
One bite and you’ll get a sense of its water content. But, in addition to H2O, pears have many things that ordinary water doesn’t have—fiber, digestible sugars, electrolytes and antioxidants that make the fruit an excellent brain food.
Pears are also powerhouses of energy and snacking on them will give you the energy boost you need to get you through the day.
This tropical fruit, which originated in South America, has incredible hydration properties. Its juice might just be what you need on a hot day.
Each bite of pineapple is loaded with vitamin C that boosts immunity, antioxidants that help prevent cancer and bromelain that alleviates inflammation. Pineapples have also been known to help with digestion. But that’s not all: the fruit also contains manganese, copper, folate, niacin, iron and riboflavin that your body needs in order to function optimally.
Low in calories but high in fiber—that’s a double whammy for mangoes. It is also one of the most hydrating fruits, with its natural sweetness being easily addictive. And that may be a good thing, considering the fruit has phytochemicals that support the immune system and help fight diseases.
If you want healthy skin and hair, mangoes, which contain vitamin C (involved in collagen production) and vitamin A (required for cell growth and reproduction), are a great choice.
As the saying goes, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.” This may be because apples are bursting with dietary fiber, antioxidants, flavanoids and phytonutrients that make them synonymous with good health.
Because apples are 84% water, each bite counts towards the eight glasses required for proper hydration. Munching on apples after an intense workout will help replenish the water and the electrolytes you lost on your way to your ideal body and weight.
This fruit not only contains 87% water, it is also packed with anti-aging compounds that would beat expensive creams. Raspberries don’t just hydrate, they keep the brain sharp by countering oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is linked to diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. They also contain ellagitannins, which actually kill cancer cells.
And those are just some of the reasons why you should enjoy this fruit all year round.
Grapes are 81% water and that’s why eating one after another makes you feel refreshed. Drinking wine though may have the opposite effect because alcohol is a diuretic—which means it makes you pee more. (It’s, in fact, important to drink water when you consume wine in order to balance the diuretic effect of alcohol.)
In addition to high water content, grapes contain resveratrol, which lowers blood pressure, protects the heart, safeguards the brain and keeps your skin looking young and radiant.
They don’t call it the “Mexican water chestnut” for nothing. Jicamas are 90% water.
This fresh and juicy fruit is actually the root bulb of a plant which produces beans similar to lima beans. They grow in areas with plenty of sunshine and eating them is good for diabetics because the fruit has a low glycemic index and high fiber content. Jicamas are also rich in inulin—a prebiotic fiber that promotes excellent nutrient absorption and boosts the immune system.
Tomatoes are 94% water and are hydration powerhouses. They can be eaten solo or as part of a healthy hydrating salad.
Tomatoes are a rich source of lycopene, which are known to reduce the risk of heart disease. The fruit, which is considered native to South America, also contains vitamin K1 which is important for blood clotting and bone health.
With 95% H2O, celery boasts as a vegetable with one of the highest concentrations of water on the planet. Because it contains electrolytes like magnesium, iron, and sodium, celery hydrates better than water.
Also, because of these same electrolytes, celery has an alkalinizing effect on the body—counteracting the effect of acidic foods like processed meats, grains and poultry.
To enjoy celery and get most of its nutritional value, consume it fresh. Cut it only when you’re ready to eat. Celery should be stored properly to maintain its green crispness. It doesn’t last long so eat celery within five days of purchase.
Cucumbers are very refreshing and are known to go well with refreshing fruits like oranges and lemons. They are 95% water so they can easily prevent constipation and even promote regularity in bowel movements—pectin, a soluble fiber found in cucumbers, is very good for digestive health.
Cucumbers come with low sugar, which makes them healthy additions to your diet. They can make you feel full, without the caloric load.
Cucumber and zucchini do look alike and many people have a hard time distinguishing them. Both are technically fruits and both contain a significant amount of water—zucchinis are 94% H2O.
But zucchinis have a heartier taste and tend to be a bit more bitter than cucumbers.
They are low calorie vegetables, with one cup having just 17 calories. It does, however, pack a punch in nutritional value. One cup of zucchini (around 223 grams) contains 40% of the recommended daily vitamin A intake. And as we all know, vitamin A is good for your eyes.
Lettuce is a salad mainstay and an excellent source for hydration. Combined with tomatoes, cucumbers and squeezed lemons, you’ve got a virtually unbeatable hydration combination.
It’s said that lettuce (Lactuca sativa) was cultivated in Egypt thousands of years ago and had a cultural and religious significance for the ancient Egyptians.
Today, lettuce is linked to antioxidant and antimicrobial agents that promote good health. And, if you’re having trouble sleeping, lettuce is nature’s sleeping pill—helping you get those needed Zzzzz’s.
It may not look like it, but a cauliflower is 92% water and goes a long way in maintaining a healthy digestive tract.
In addition to H2O, cauliflowers are considered “brain food” because they contain choline which is essential to the learning and memory functions of the brain.
For people suffering from obesity, cauliflower in your diet can give you the benefits of a high fiber and low calorie combo.
Cabbage helps keep your blood pressure in check. This star of the coleslaw is also known as a great remedy for inflammation. Sulforaphane and kaempferol, two kinds of antioxidants found in cabbage, are known for their anti-inflammatory functions.
Friendly bacteria Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli, which are usually found in the gut, benefit from the rich fiber contained in cabbage. These bacteria, in turn, help maintain the integrity of the immune system—keeping the whole body happy and healthy.
All of these are in addition to the great hydrating properties of cabbage—which is 92% water.
Eggplants, also known as aubergines, are potent sources of hydration. And with that water comes a batch of compounds and phytonutrients that make eggplants some of the healthiest vegetables in the known universe.
The lack of iron in a person’s blood can make one feel weak and lightheaded. This iron deficiency is called anemia, and, if not corrected immediately, anemia can have fatal consequences.
Consuming eggplants, which contain iron and copper (both necessary for the production of red blood cells), can give you an energy boost and jettison feelings of lethargy and the blues. Eggplants also contain “brain boosters” like potassium. Potassium ramps up brain efficiency by dilating blood vessels, allowing more oxygen to get to the brain.
Carrots are one of those vegetables that are always handy to have as a snack. You can simply whip out a stick and munch on it during your morning commute. This means you’re not only taking in healthy food, you’re also adding water to your body. Carrots, by the way, are 87% water and each bite brings you closer to the proverbial “8 glasses of water” you’re supposed to be having every day.
Carrots are rich in beta-carotene (responsible for its orange color) which helps reduce the risk of lung and colon cancer. Carrot juice has also been found to kill leukemia cells and inhibit the progression of the disease. The beneficial effects of carrots to human health is undeniable.
Kids may turn their noses at broccoli, but their parents got it right. Broccoli is a superfood that deserves a spot in our diets.
Broccoli is rich in substances like indole-3-carbinol or I3C. I3C is linked to a reduced risk of breast cancers in women. Broccoli also has sulforaphane, which is really like a miracle drug because it simultaneously lowers blood sugar, controls cholesterol, checks oxidative stress and reduces the development of chronic diseases.
Broccoli, in short, is worth every bite!
If it’s good enough for Popeye, it is definitely good enough for us. Spinach is 92% water and is one of the veggies that can hydrate you the most.
Spinach is high in manganese, and manganese plays a major role in metabolism. By activating enzymes, manganese facilitates the different biological processes of the body. Manganese has also proven effective to alleviate PMS symptoms as well as speed up the healing process of wounds.
This unassuming veggie is good for detoxification and helps clean our liver and stomach. Radish also strengthens individual blood vessels by promoting the production of collagen. Red blood cells also benefit because radish is known to fend off damage to red blood cells, and as a result, increases oxygen levels in the bloodstream.
If nothing else, radishes’ high water content should be enough to persuade you to have a go at it.
29. Bell Peppers
It may not be painfully obvious, but bell peppers are 92% water. They hydrate you while tasting delicious.
Bell peppers take a recipe to a whole new level and also do the same to the body. Bell peppers, or Capsicum annuum, are packed with vitamin C. Imagine, just a single medium-sized red bell pepper already contains 169% of your recommended daily intake for vitamin C.
Unripe ones contain lutein, a type of carotenoid, that’s vital for clear vision and eyesight.
Yogurt is made when bacteria does the job of fermenting milk—giving it its tangy flavor. Yogurt is a go-to food for those who want to lose weight because consuming it results in better weight management due to yogurt carrying few calories.
But aside from being a healthy option, yogurt is first and foremost a very refreshing food. It is 88% water and a helping of it is a sure way to hydration.
31. Cottage Cheese
Cottage cheese comes from the curds of pasteurized cow’s milk. It’s a kind of cheese that did not undergo aging, so it’s generally mild in flavor. It’s also low in calories, which makes it ideal for those trying to shed the pounds.
Cottage cheese is made up of 80% water—and it may not look like it, but enjoying cottage cheese really means you’re also hydrating yourself.
Foods to Avoid
1. Salty Foods
Salty foods are antithetical to hydration because salt (sodium chloride) sucks the water out of your cells. That’s why consuming foods like popcorn, chips, fried foods and cured meats makes you thirsty. And when you do drink, this water quickly leaves the body because it is used to flush out the excess salts through urination.
2. Sweet Foods
Sugary food items like candy, ice cream, donuts and cakes are to be avoided from the perspective of hydration because your body consumes a lot more water just to break down the sugars in these foods. Yes, sweet fruits and vegetables do contain (natural) sugars, but they are metabolized very differently than the refined sugars added to donuts and cakes.
The Bottom Line
So there you have it! You now know the best foods for hydration. And they just happen to also be the “super foods” that are really good for you. So, here’s to hitting two birds with one stone!
If you really want to improve your hydration practices, consider pairing a healthy diet rich in hydrating foods with a special water bottle designed to support improved hydration. Learn more about the benefits of copper water bottles!
About the Authors: This article was collaboratively written by our team of researchers and writers with the benefit of all available scientific studies and other relevant literature. Our team of researchers and writers include experienced health researchers including a qualified medical professional. Please note that information in this article is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.