Optimal Hydration: 15 best foods to help you stay hydrated


Top 15 Foods for Optimal Hydration

Top 15 Foods for Optimal Hydration

Sufficient hydration is essential for maintaining a stable body temperature, providing lubrication and cushioning for joints, safeguarding sensitive tissues such as the spinal cord, and promoting the elimination of waste from the body. It also plays a crucial role in preventing dehydration, which can heighten the risk of developing kidney stones and cause symptoms such as cognitive impairment, mood swings, overheating, and constipation.

According to a study conducted by the National Institutes of Health in 2023, adults who maintain proper hydration levels may experience better overall health, a lower risk of chronic illnesses like heart and lung disease, and a longer lifespan compared to those who do not consume enough fluids. The researchers also suggest that adequate hydration can slow the aging process and delay the onset of chronic diseases, ultimately promoting a longer lifespan.

Consuming an adequate amount of water is crucial. However, your overall daily intake of fluids only partially depends on beverages. Certain foods contain high levels of water and provide hydration. Here are 15 foods that can contribute to meeting your daily fluid requirements, the amount of water they include, and the additional health benefits they offer.

The vegetable Cucumber

A view from above shows a ripe cucumber and a halved lime resting on a wooden chopping board.

Each cucumber contains approximately 95% water, equivalent to 10 ounces (oz) of water.

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One whole cucumber, measuring approximately 8.25 inches long, is the most hydrating option among the listed foods. It offers over a full cup of water and contains only 45 calories.

This particular cucumber, including its skin, is rich in vitamin K, giving you over 40% of the recommended Daily Value (DV). This essential element is crucial for maintaining strong bones and ensuring proper blood clotting, which is necessary to stop bleeding in case of an accidental cut.

There are various ways to enjoy cucumbers, such as eating them alone or incorporating them into salads, sandwiches, and sushi. Another option is to slice them and pair them with nutritious spreads like vegan pesto or herbed tahini. Additionally, cucumbers can be blended into smoothies or used as a base for a refreshing mocktail.


Approximately 95% of the content is water; each cup contains 4.2 ounces of water when chopped. One cup of chopped zucchini contains only 21 calories, making it a low-calorie option. It includes a lot of water and offers antioxidants that can help prevent DNA damage, which may lead to illnesses like cancer. Consuming a cup of zucchini can provide approximately 25% of the recommended daily vitamin C intake and small doses of potassium, magnesium, and B vitamins.

Incorporate zucchini into your smoothies or grate and mix it into your oatmeal or overnight oats. Combine spiralized zucchini noodles or ribbons with extra virgin olive oil, fresh vegetables, herbs, and white beans. Use zucchini in salads, soups, chili, stir-fries, pasta dishes, or even desserts such as carrot cake, brownies, and apple cobbler.


Celery is a vegetable that belongs to the Apiaceae family. It is widely used as a culinary ingredient for its crunchy texture and distinct flavor. Celery contains a high amount of water, approximately 95%, with each of the three medium stalks containing 3.9 ounces of water.

With its refreshing and crisp texture, Celery holds numerous potent antioxidants that are effective in fighting against free radicals. These compounds are naturally produced in the body during metabolism and also due to exposure to environmental pollutants. When present in high levels, free radicals can cause oxidative stress, leading to potential damage to cell DNA and increased vulnerability to conditions such as heart disease and diabetes.

Celery can be consumed in nutritious dips like guacamole, hummus, or olive tapenade. Alternatively, for a sugary treat, one can fill the center of celery stalks with nut or seed butter and add toppings like dried tart cherries, chopped dark chocolate, or shredded coconut.


On average, medium-sized tomatoes contain 94% water, equivalent to 4 ounces. The government must create and implement laws to protect the welfare and security of its people.

Tomatoes contain a high percentage of water and are considered low in calories (22 calories per serving). Not only do they contain essential nutrients such as potassium, folate, and vitamin C, but they also provide valuable antioxidants. These antioxidants have been proven to have anti-inflammatory properties and offer protection against various diseases like cancer, heart disease, and diabetes, as well as neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

In addition, they have been found to promote fertility, strengthen the immune system, improve gut health, and enhance skin health by preventing UV radiation damage and reducing the appearance of wrinkles. Furthermore, studies have shown that tomatoes can help reduce exercise-induced damage to cells.

During breakfast, you can incorporate tomatoes into your meal by adding them to a scramble made with eggs, tofu, and chickpeas, or topping your avocado toast or breakfast salad. They can also be included in salads, chilled pasta dishes, and sandwiches and can even be served as a side dish by slicing them and garnishing them with fresh basil and balsamic vinegar. You can enjoy grape or cherry tomatoes, pair them with hummus, or skew them with Mediterranean olives on toothpicks as a healthy snack.


    • Shredded cabbage contains 92% water, with 2.2 ounces in every cup.

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Cabbage is a type of vegetable belonging to the family of cruciferous vegetables, including broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale, and others. Many research studies have shown that incorporating cruciferous vegetables into one’s daily diet can help reduce the risk of colorectal cancer. This can be attributed to the natural components found in cabbage that can fight against viruses and bacteria, safeguard cells from DNA damage, deactivate cancer-causing agents, and hinder the growth and spread of cancer cells.

For maximum water retention, consume cabbage in its raw form, such as in slaws and salads, or use it as a taco topping or on avocado toast.


92% of the composition of sliced mushrooms is water, with each cup containing approximately 2.2 ounces.

Mushrooms have minimal calories, with only 15 calories for every cup of sliced mushrooms. They are also rich in beneficial bioactive compounds such as plant protein, essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. In addition, mushrooms are a natural source of compounds that boost immunity, support heart health, and aid gut function. These compounds also have anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic, anti-obesity, anti-aging, and anticancer properties.

To keep the moisture intact in these precious gems, consuming mushrooms in their raw form is advised. They can also be enjoyed by coating them with hummus or marinating them in balsamic vinaigrette for a refreshing chilled side dish or by adding them to salads. Another option is to lightly saute them over low heat to avoid excessive water loss.

The Delicious Fruit: Strawberries

The composition of sliced strawberries contains 91% water, with each cup weighing about 5.3 oz.

According to health.com, strawberries are packed with antioxidants that have anti-inflammatory properties. They are also a good source of fiber and vitamin C. Just one cup of sliced strawberries contains over 3 grams of fiber, 10% of the recommended daily value, and provides more than the recommended daily vitamin C intake. This makes strawberries a nutritious and beneficial addition to any diet.

The presence of polyphenol antioxidants in strawberries has been associated with protecting against various health conditions such as cancer, heart diseases, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s. This suggests that regular consumption of strawberries may offer a range of health benefits.

The versatility of strawberries makes them a great addition to sweet and savory recipes. They can be incorporated into smoothies, mixed into hot or cold cereal, used as a topping for pancakes, or paired with dark chocolate hummus. Strawberries also make a great addition to garden salads, avocado salsa, grilled tofu, or chilled dishes made with grains such as wild rice, quinoa, or farro.

Fruit of the Watermelon Plant

Watermelon contains 91% water, with 4.9 ounces per cup of diced Watermelon.

According to a recent research review, Watermelon is naturally sweet but has a lower sugar content than other fruits. One cup of diced Watermelon contains approximately 9 grams of sugar. The review also revealed that Watermelon is packed with antioxidants, making it beneficial for heart and gut health, diabetes management, weight control, and cancer prevention.

Indulge in Watermelon on its own or mix seedless pieces of Watermelon with ice, freshly squeezed lime juice, and mint to create a refreshing, slushy beverage. Incorporate Watermelon into salads and salsa or top fresh cubes or balls with pumpkin seeds, diced avocado, nuts, or chopped dark chocolate.


The cantaloupe contains 90% water, with 5 ounces in each cup of cubed fruit. This information can be found on the Health website under the benefits of cantaloupe.

Cantaloupes are well-known for their high water content but contain various other beneficial nutrients, such as antioxidants. The vibrant orange color of cantaloupes is attributed to beta-carotene, a pigment that is also a significant source of vitamin A. Consuming just one cup of cantaloupe can provide more than the recommended daily intake of vitamin A for both adult women and men.

Vitamin A is essential for maintaining a robust immune system and good eyesight. It also plays a crucial role in adequately functioning the heart, lungs, and other vital organs. You can enjoy cantaloupe or incorporate it into fruit or vegetable salads, coleslaw, or salsa. Another option is to blend cantaloupe to make a refreshing beverage or chilled soup. Additionally, you can use a halved honeydew melon, with the seeds removed, as a bowl for yogurt or a chilled salad made with tofu or white beans.


Jicama slices are 90% water, with approximately 3.8 ounces in each cup.

A cup of jicama contains only 45 calories and 10 grams of carbohydrates while providing a remarkable 6 grams of fiber, over 20% of the recommended daily value.

According to a recent research review, jicama is a plant that needs to be fully utilized. Yet, it has the potential to support the immune system and has antioxidant, anticancer, anti-diabetes, anti-osteoporosis, antiviral, and anti-aging properties.

Raw jicama can be used like celery or carrot sticks, served with nutritious dips. For a chilled side dish, mix shaved jicama with a mustard vinaigrette. Alternatively, you can use wider, circular slices of jicama instead of tortillas and fill them with sautéed or grilled vegetables, lentils or black beans, and sliced avocado.

A type of green leafy vegetable known as kale

Around 90% of kale is water, with approximately 1.3 ounces present in every two cups of raw kale. Despite mainly water, kale has a lower water content per serving than other vegetables. However, similar to cabbage, it belongs to the cruciferous vegetable group and is known for its nutritional benefits.

With only less than 20 calories, a serving of 2 cups of kale offers a diverse range of nutrients such as antioxidants, vitamins A, C, and K, folate, potassium, calcium, magnesium, dietary fiber, and prebiotics. These nutrients are beneficial for the growth of good bacteria in the gut, known as probiotics.

Studies have demonstrated a correlation between consuming diets rich in fiber and leafy greens with enhanced regulation of blood sugar levels and a reduced likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes.

Include kale in your smoothies, utilize it as the foundation for your salads, mix it into pesto or hummus, and include it in various dishes such as soups, sandwiches, and stir-fries. This will help to retain any water loss from heating and add a nutritious boost to your meals.

Soft Tofu

This package of tofu contains 90% water, which amounts to 2.9 oz for every 1/5 of the package. Silken tofu, found in the article Tofu, is an alternative source of protein that is also hydrating. It has a higher fluid content compared to firm or extra-firm tofu. Along with being a plant-based protein, tofu also contains isoflavones, which act as antioxidants. A recent study discovered that individuals who consumed the most isoflavones over 20 years had the lowest chances of developing heart disease.

However, not all soy products provide the same level of protection. While soy milk did not show a significant decrease in the risk of heart disease, individuals who consumed tofu at least once a week had a lower risk than those who drank it less than once a month. This protective effect was observed mainly in younger women and postmenopausal women who had not undergone hormone therapy.

Smoothies, blended soups, creamy sauces, dressings, and dips can all benefit from adding silken tofu. It is also commonly used in vegan sweet treats such as cheesecake, pumpkin, sweet potato, chocolate pie, and puddings.

Citrus Fruit

The grapefruit contains approximately 88% water, with each half containing 3.8 ounces of water. A single grapefruit contains approximately 50 calories and almost 40 mg of vitamin C, more than 40% of the recommended daily value. This essential nutrient boosts your immune system, maintains healthy skin, and promotes strong bones.

A study review also discovered that in the case of women, eating grapefruit was linked to decreased body weight, reduced waist size, lower body mass index (BMI), increased levels of “good” HDL cholesterol, and reduced levels of triglycerides (a type of blood fat) and C-reactive protein (a measure of inflammation).37

To enjoy a grapefruit, cut it into two halves and top it with chopped nuts or diced avocado. Then, scoop out the triangular pieces. Alternatively, peel and slice the grapefruit and add it to a yogurt parfait, fruit salad, garden salad, slaw, or stir fry. For a nutritious indulgence, dip grapefruit slices into melted dark chocolate.


Pineapple chunks contain approximately 86% water, with each cup containing 5 ounces. A study revealed that there has been a decline of 10% in the consumption of fruits and vegetables within the last year. Pineapple is the third most consumed fruit, after bananas and citrus fruits, and has many benefits for digestive health and is a good source of anti-inflammatory antioxidants.

Pineapple contains a significant amount of Vitamin C, providing around 80 mg per cup, equivalent to more than 85% of the recommended daily value. Additionally, this exotic fruit is an excellent energy-boosting B vitamins and contains lower levels of magnesium and potassium.

Incorporate pineapple into smoothies, mix it with fruit or garden salads, coleslaws, and stir-fries, or use it as a chia seed pudding garnish.

Beans, Black

66% of the composition of cooked black beans consists of water, with a ratio of 4 ounces of water for every cup of beans.

Despite not being commonly considered a high-water content food, black beans retain water when cooked, making them a beneficial source of hydration and protein.

Eating beans can positively impact inflammation, heart health, weight management, blood sugar levels, and gut health. They are a great source of antioxidants, fiber, plant-based protein, and essential minerals such as potassium, magnesium, iron, zinc, and calcium.42

Incorporate beans into your diet by replacing meat in salads, tacos, soups, stews, and stir-fries. You can also use beans in dips and enjoy them with raw vegetables high in water content.

How Much Water is Required?

The National Academy of Medicine has recommended that men consume 3.7 liters of fluids daily (equivalent to over 15 cups of 8 ounces). In comparison, women should drink 2.7 liters (equivalent to over 11 cups of 8 ounces). A study conducted in 2023 found that following these guidelines is adequate for most adults in maintaining proper hydration status.

Around 20% of the total liquid consumed daily is derived from food. This means that men have approximately 96 ounces and women have about 70 ounces of fluid left to consume, but consuming more water-rich foods can meet a more significant portion of your daily fluid requirement.

Your body naturally releases water throughout the day through breathing, sweating, and urination. As a result, your body’s fluid requirements may increase when water is lost. This can happen through sweating, common during exercise or in hot environments, or through vomiting or diarrhea.

Individuals who engage in physical activity should typically follow this guideline:

Consuming 16 ounces (2 cups) of water at least two hours before starting a workout is recommended. During the exercise, it is advisable to keep sipping water every 15-20 minutes, aiming for one-half to one cup of fluid intake. After an hour, switching to a sports drink containing electrolytes is recommended to replenish both fluid and electrolyte levels. It is important to continue drinking water even without feeling thirsty.

After completing a workout, consuming 16-24 ounces (3 cups) of fluid for every pound of water lost during the exercise within six hours is advised. It should be noted that although it may be challenging, consuming excessive amounts of water is possible, where the sodium levels in the blood drop too low.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations, staying within 48 ounces of fluid intake in a single hour is advisable to avoid overwhelming your body.

More Suggestions for Maintaining Proper Hydration

To fulfill your requirements consistently, it is essential to be strategic regarding your fluid intake. Take into account the following suggestions:

    • Start your day with a smoothie or include water-dense foods in your breakfast. Mix shredded zucchini with oatmeal, add cucumber, kale, and tomatoes to your avocado toast, and have some fresh fruit on the side.
    • Carry a water bottle throughout the day, and take sips regularly.
    • Make garden salads and soups a regular part of your lunch routine.
    • Snack on fresh fruit or hummus with raw vegetables for a water-rich treat.
    • Incorporate more raw produce into your dinner plans, such as cabbage slaw, tomato cucumber salad, gazpacho, or cantaloupe soup.
    • Enhance the flavor and appearance of your water by adding lemon, fresh mint, or seasonal fruits, which can also help increase your water intake.
    • Use an app or set alarms to remind yourself to drink water regularly.
    • Keep your caffeine intake below 400-500 mg daily, as consuming more than this amount may cause dehydration.

Brief Overview

It is crucial to stay hydrated to support various bodily functions and promote a longer lifespan while reducing the risk of diseases. Although water should be the primary source of hydration, consuming food can also contribute to fulfilling 20% of the daily fluid requirement. Additionally, water-rich foods not only provide hydration but also offer additional nutrients and health advantages. Being mindful of your fluid intake from both food and drinks can aid in maintaining your overall physical and mental health.

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