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Don’t drink enough water? Eat this 1 food to hit your daily hydration goals

These are the top foods for hydration to add to your diet — including one superfood that contains 97% water!
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Everyone knows drinking water is important for our health, but an alarming 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated. Whether you forget to drink or don’t enjoy water, making an effort to consume enough fluids is a must for maintaining a healthy body. But if drinking enough water is a daily struggle, there is good news: The foods you eat also factor into overall hydration. 

There is a rule of thumb in the nutrition world that fluids should make up 80% of your water intake and the remaining 20% should come from food. Luckily, the 16 top hydrating foods are delicious, full of other nutrients, and will help you meet your daily fruit and veggie intake. As an added bonus, we’re shouting out the one hydrating food that soars above the rest that's almost 97% water. 

Why is hydration important?

About 60% of the body is made up of water. “(Water) helps maintain blood volume, serves as a medium for joint lubrication, circulates nutrients and beneficial cells and compounds, and is vital to kidney filtration,” says Carolyn Williams, RD, author of "Meals That Heal" and co-host of the podcast "Happy Eating." Water is also necessary for proper brain function, skin elasticity and maintaining a normal internal temperature, according to Elizabeth Shaw, RDN, author, and owner of Shaw Simple Swaps.

Dehydration commonly occurs when you don’t take in enough water on a daily basis. Although it sounds insignificant, mild dehydration causes changes in the body that affect blood pressure, mood, and urine output. “As dehydration worsens, so does the severity and extent of effects,” says Williams. Severe dehydration may lead to cardiac arrest and can be life threatening. 

How can I stay hydrated?

The most obvious way to boost hydration is to drink more water. “Think about the daily habits you’re already doing (like brushing your teeth), and use these moments as a reminder to drink an extra cup of water,” says Shaw. She also adds that if you don’t like plain water, consider adding a splash of citrus or 100% fruit juice to entice you to drink more. 

“Diet also contributes to daily water intake, particularly fruits, vegetables and dairy products,” says Williams. She mentions that skim milk is more than 90% water, so drinking it contributes to hydration. “And even foods like beans, pasta, seafood and chicken breast contain 60% water,” says Williams. In other words, eating a well-balanced diet with plenty of fresh foods help your meet your daily water goals.  

How much water should a person drink every day?  

“This varies depending on a person’s individual health needs as well as their age, activity level, and gender,” says Shaw. “The Institutes of Medicine recommend about 13 cups of fluid each day for men and 9 cups for women,” she adds. However, these recommendations arent one-size-fits-all, since you may need more water in hot and humid conditions or if you’re engaging in prolonged exercise.

These easiest way to assess hydration status is to monitor the color of urine. “The goal is for the color to be that of pale lemonade,” says Williams. That color indicates proper hydration, while a darker color, like apple cider vinegar, means you likely need to drink more water. 

Top 16 hydrating foods

1. Cucumber

Many fruit and vegetables are more than 90% water, but one tops the charts. Cucumbers are 97% water and a refreshing way to add more hydration to your diet. For double the hydration, make a spa water with cucumbers, fresh herbs, like mint, and a squeeze of lemon or lime juice. 

 2. Watermelon

“Containing nearly 91% water, watermelon is an excellent option to hydrate (especially when it’s in season in the warm summer months), says Shaw. It’s also a good source of lycopene, an antioxidant that has been linked to heart health. 

3. Lettuce

You may think that crispy green lettuce has little nutritional value, but it’s actually over 90% water. So go ahead and top your burrito bowl with tons of lettuce to up your hydration game. 

4. Spinach

Good news — the base for your healthy salad is not only packed with vitamin C and iron, but it can also keep you hydrated. Made up of over 90% water, spinach is a great addition to salad, soups, casseroles and smoothies.  

5. Raspberries

“I eat raspberries several times a week,” says Williams. “Not only are they hydrating, but they’re loaded with antioxidant compounds and a good source of fiber,” she adds. 

6. Oranges

There’s a reason oranges are served as a halftime snack at kids sporting activities — they are juicy and water-rich. And there are tons of varieties, like Cara Cara, Sumo, mandarin, navel, blood orange, and clementine. 

7. Celery 

“Celery boasts over 95% water and is packed with vitamins and minerals that promote healthy blood pressure and digestion,” says Vandana Sheth, registered dietitian nutritionist and author of "My Indian Table: Quick & Tasty Vegetarian Recipes." Use it as a vehicle for dipping or add it to soups and stews.

8. Cantaloupe

This sweet orange melon is 90% water and packed with potassium, an electrolyte lost through perspiration. Add some cantaloupe to your sweaty summer activities to maximize hydration. 

9. Cabbage

Cabbage in all its forms — red, green, Brussels sprouts — is a crisp vegetable that is more than 90% water. Eating cruciferous veggies, like cabbage, has been linked to lower cancer risk.

10. Zucchini

Zucchini is more than 90% water and a good source of folate, a vitamin that's important in early pregnancy. Use it as a low-calorie pasta substitute or slice it thinly and bake it into crispy chips. 

11. Apples

An apple a day keeps dehydration away. Over 80% of the fruit is water, and it’s also a good source of fiber. Snack on apple slices with nut butter in between meals to keep you full. 

12. Grapes

Popping some grapes into your mouth increases your daily fluid intake. Not to mention that grapes contain resveratrol, a plant compound that is good for your heart. 

13. Pears 

Not only are pears a fiber powerhouse — one pear has 25% the daily value — they are full of moisture. Slice pears into your smoothie, salad or oatmeal for some additional hydration. 

14. Carrots

Carrots are known for their vitamin A, a nutrient that plays a major role in eye health. But they are also almost 90% water. 

15. Pineapple

It’s probably no surprise that this juicy tropical fruit is hydrating. Pineapple is also an excellent source of vitamin C to keep your immune system strong. To jazz up your water, add a slice of pineapple for a sweet taste without added sugar. 

16. Strawberries

These ruby red berries are 90% water and rich in inflammation-fighting antioxidants. Add more of them to your life in sweet and savory dishes, like desserts and salads.