Foods with a high-water content are also nutrient rich and low in calories
Though the experts say we’re supposed to drink eight glasses of water each day, many of us can’t manage that much liquid. The good news is that you don’t have to lug around that gallon jug because we get roughly 20 percent of our hydration through food, especially fruits and vegetables.
Drinking water is still important—particularly during the dog days of summer—but you can supplement your water intake with one of these foods, all of which are at least 90 percent water by weight, making them the perfect option to help keep you hydrated.
- Cucumbers (water content: 96.7 percent) have the highest water content of any solid food. Eat slices dipped in hummus or add them to your salads. Or pump up cucumber’s water quotient by blending it with nonfat yogurt, mint and ice cubes to make chilled cucumber soup.
- Iceberg lettuce (water content: 95.6 percent) is the red-headed stepchild of the lettuce family when it comes to nutrition. Nutritionists suggest choosing darker greens like romaine lettuce or spinach, which have higher amounts of fiber, folate and vitamin K. But when it comes to water content, iceberg wins the lettuce wars hands down. Use iceberg leaves instead of hamburger buns and tortillas to wrap your burgers and tacos.
- Not only is celery high in water (water content: 95.4 percent), but it’s also a very low-calorie food, coming in a six calories per stalk. This pale veggie is also high in fiber, folate, and vitamins A, C and K. You can also eat celery to quell acid reflux because it neutralizes stomach acid.
- Spicy-sweet radishes (water content: 95.3 percent) add crunch (and color) to your summer salads. Better yet, these crunchy root veggies are loaded with antioxidants such as catechin (they same one found in green tea). Give coleslaw a healthy boost with slices of radish.
- Tomatoes (water content: 94.5 percent) are perfect in salads, on sandwiches and as a sauce. And the cherry and grape varieties make excellent water-filled snacks.
- All bell peppers have a high water content, but green peppers (water content: 93.9 percent) have the highest. And they are just as antioxidant laden as slightly sweeter red, orange and yellow bells. Had your fill of celery and carrots on veggie trays? Slice up a green pepper for an after-dinner snack.
- Cauliflower (water content: 92.1 percent) may be pale, but it’s packed with vitamins and phytonutrients that lower cholesterol levels and fight cancer. Add florets of this low-fat, sodium-free veggie to your summer salads.
- Watermelon (water content: 91.5 percent) is loaded with water, as well as lycopene, a cancer-fighting antioxidant found in red fruits and vegetables. In fact, watermelon has more lycopene than raw tomatoes—about 12 milligrams per wedge. Serve slices as dessert at summer barbecues or drop cubes into a pitcher of cold water. Yum.
- Spinach (water content: 91.4 percent) is rich in fiber, folate, lutein and potassium. And one cup of raw leaves contains 15 percent of your daily intake of vitamin E, which helps fight off free radicals.
- Garnish your salad with the tropical star fruit (water content: 91.4 percent). It comes in sweet and tart varieties and is loaded with antioxidants, especially epicatechin—a heart-healthy compound found in dark chocolate, green tea and red wine. If you have kidney problems (and we’re more likely to suffer from kidney disease than other races), however, you should avoid star fruit because of its high levels of oxalic acid.
- Berries are good for hydration, but strawberries (water content: 91 percent) beat out blackberries (88.2 percent water) and raspberries and blueberries (both about 85 percent water). Help ward off heart disease by blending them in smoothies or capping them and making a snack out of the raw berry.
- Broccoli (water content: 90.7 percent) adds so much more than crunch to a salad. Loaded with fiber, potassium, and vitamins A and C, this cruciferous vegetable contains sulforaphane, a potent compound that flushes cancer-causing chemicals out of your body.
- Grapefruit (water content: 90.5 percent) can help lower cholesterol and shrink your waistline. Researchers say compounds in this citrus fruit help stabilize blood sugar, reducing cravings. If you take medication for high blood pressure, talk to your doctor about eating grapefruit; it interacts badly with some medicines.
- Believer it or not, baby carrots (water content: 90.4 percent) have a higher water content than full-size carrots (88.3 percent water). Plus, these bite-sized babies are ready-made snacks!
- Just a six-ounce serving of cantaloupe (water content: 90.2 percent) provides 100 percent of your recommended daily intake of vitamins A and C—for only 50 calories. And this is one versatile melon. Eat it as a dessert, blend it with yogurt and freeze it for a refreshing sherbet or puree it with orange juice and mint to make a summer soup.