Fitness Facts: Hydrating foods
By Liz Cook
Registered Dietitian, Canyon Health and Wellness Clinic
Summer has arrived and it’s officially hot. As the temperature heats up, it’s also important to increase your fluid intake to make sure you stay properly hydrated.
While most of us think about drinking more water, adding high water content foods can also help keep us hydrated. It is estimated that about 20% of our daily fluid intake comes from the foods we eat. Foods that are 80% or more water are considered hydrating and are great things to incorporate during the long, hot summer ahead!
As a food group, veggies are some of the highest in water content. Cucumbers are about 95% water, and 1 cup of raw cucumbers provides your body with almost ½ of a cup of water. Lettuces are, not surprisingly, also about 95% water. This includes iceberg, romaine, spinach, kale and cabbage, so take your pick! Celery is 95% water and another great source of fluid. Zucchini is about 94% water, and 1 cup of cooked zucchini gives you about 6 ounces of water. Tomatoes also have a water content of about 94%, and one medium-sized tomato holds about ½ cup of water. Bell peppers of any color also have a water content of more than 90%. Finally, broccoli and cauliflower both contain about 90% water and are great veggies to enjoy raw or cooked.
Fruit is also a high-water content food group. No surprise here, watermelon is about 92% water, and 1 cup of watermelon provides the body with about 5 ounces of water. Strawberries come in just behind watermelon with 91% water, followed by cantaloupe at 90%. Peaches are also hydrating with about 89% water. Oranges and other citrus fruits, such as grapefruit, also can help you reach your daily fluid intake goals with about ½ cup of water coming from each orange or grapefruit. Pineapple is about 86% water and another great fruit to include in your meals and snacks this summer.
Some dairy products are also high in fluid. Skim milk is about 91% water, and plain yogurt comes in around 88%. Cottage cheese is a bit lower but still contains around 80% water. Dairy alternatives like soy, coconut, oat and nut milks also all hold high amounts of water. Additionally, coconut water is about 95% water and contains electrolytes that may help your body retain even more of the fluid you consume.
While it may not be what you crave on hot summer days, soups and broths are 90% water or more and can be a great thing to incorporate as well. Additionally, traditional tomato sauces are generally about 90% water.
Eating each of these foods on its own is a great way to get more fluid, but combining them into delicious dishes can give you even more of a boost.
Try making a Watermelon and Feta Salad as a side dish. If you prefer something more savory, try a Cucumber and Tomato Salad instead. If you want to go full-on hydration mode, try this Summer Minestrone Soup, which contains celery, bell pepper, zucchini and tomatoes. For a hydrating way to start the day, consider combining berries, yogurt, spinach and milk into a morning smoothie. As a mid-day snack, try a combo of pineapple and cottage cheese or yogurt and berries to boost your hydration.
It’s also worth mentioning that while so many foods are full of fluid and help you stay hydrated, other foods counteract these efforts and dehydrate your body. High sugar items, such as soda and desserts, contribute to dehydration. High sodium food, such as salty, processed snacks and deli meats also can do the same. When it comes to beverages, coffee and alcohol can both worsen dehydration.
For more info on hydration and dehydration, check out this article from last month’s GCU Today.