Health & Wellness

Best foods for hydration

What’s clear, filling, healthy and free? You guessed it. Water! But it’s also one of those things that most of us don't get enough of — especially when the weather warms up.

Water makes up about 75 percent of our body by weight, is essential for life (we can survive for only a few days without it) and is the most readily available way to stay hydrated. Being properly hydrated is critical to proper brain function, all bodily and metabolic processes, good digestion, and a glowing complexion.

Though the recommendation for us to get eight cups of water a day is somewhat of a myth. Some of us need more and others require less, depending upon physical activity level, environment and weight. Most of us don’t meet our individual needs, so aiming for those eight cups is a good goal.

This is where eating your water comes in. Foods that are high in water volume are generally low energy, dense foods and have been linked to weight loss as well many other health benefits.

RELATED: 11 foods that make you feel better — an hour later

In fact, for most people, food contributes to about 20 to 30 percent of their fluid intake for the day! If you aren’t into sipping your water, you can actually eat your water. So grab a fork, and get some of these top hydrating foods on your plate stat:

1. Zucchini

Boasting a hefty 95 percent water, zucchini is a no brainer when it comes to incorporating higher water volume foods into your diet this summer. Versatile, satisfying and loaded with nutrients including vitamins A and C, these guys have a ton of healthy benefits and may help to lower your cholesterol and blood pressure, while providing anti-inflammatory benefits.

Toss this veggie into the food processor the next time you’re whipping up some homemade hummus for a unique spin on a classic dip.

2. Strawberries

Strawberries rank among the highest water volume foods coming in at 92 percent water. They’re also one of the highest antioxidant foods and can you help regulate your blood sugar (they’re packed with fiber). Wow your dinner guests by drizzling a balsamic glaze over sliced strawberries for an uber-simple, scrumptious and healthy dessert.

3. Cantaloupe

Most people think of watermelon as the highest water volume melon, but don’t neglect cantaloupe! It's packed with beta-carotene which helps protect your skin from sun damage, and can also prevent wrinkles and age spots and keep your skin elastic and glowing.

RELATED: Is watermelon loaded with sugar? What you need to know about common food myths

Throwing a half cup of chopped cantaloupe into Greek yogurt, mixing and topping with crushed walnuts is the perfect way to make your own sweet yogurt breakfast.

4. Tomatoes

This staple salad ingredient is jam packed with water (94 percent) and studies have linked the compound lycopene — found in high amounts in tomatoes — with protecting your tissues against oxidative damage. It also acts as an anti-inflammatory agent helping to prevent prostate cancer, cardiovascular disease and even bone deterioration.

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Tomatoes are low in calories and high in fiber, which in addition to the water volume are the perfect waistline watching trifecta. For a super simple summer salad, halve cherry tomatoes and mix them with fresh corn, olive oil, a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese and toasted pine nuts.

RELATED: How adding 100 calories of these 'healthy' fats can cut your diabetes risk

5. Eggplant

This fruit well known for it’s deep purple hues has even more to offer than its impressive 92 percent water volume. It’s low in calories, nutrient dense and loaded with the compound nasunin, which has been shown to protect our brain cells from free radical damage. Eggplant is not just delish breaded and fried. Slice and bake it with tomato sauce and fresh mozzarella for a lighter, healthier version.

6. Bell peppers

Coming in at around 92 percent water by weight, this multicolored veggie is high in lutein, well known for keeping your vision sharp by protecting your eyes from macular degeneration. Stuff your bell peppers with quinoa, chickpeas, asparagus, mushrooms and tomato sauce for a super easy meatless meal.

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