Struggling to drink enough water every day? These fruits might help

Key points

  • Dietitians say people can stay hydrated not only by drinking water, but also by eating fruits and vegetables that are high in water.
  • Strawberries, watermelon, melon, lettuce, celery and spinach are great examples of fruits and vegetables that can help you meet your hydration needs.
  • While fruits and veggies can aid in hydration, experts say eating fruits and veggies alone isn’t enough to stay adequately hydrated.

While drinking water is probably the most common way to quench thirst, eating fruits and vegetables and drinking other types of liquids like smoothies and broths can also help you stay hydrated.

Hydration needs can be met through a variety of sources besides drinking water, Candace Pumper, MS, RD, LD, a registered dietitian at Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, told Verywell. Raw fruits and vegetables also contribute to fluid needs due to their high water content.

But there’s a limit to the amount of fruit and vegetables they actually give you. Here’s which nutrition experts recommend adding to your day to meet your hydration needs.

Why hydration is important

Staying hydrated helps your body with important tasks such as regulating body temperature, protecting joints and eliminating waste.

Not drinking enough water can lead to dehydration, which can give you muscle cramps, dry mouth, tiredness, fatigue, headaches, rapid heart rate and low blood pressure. If it’s severe enough, dehydration can lead to kidney damage, organ failure, brain damage, and even death.

How much water do you get from eating fruit?

According to Catalina Ruz, RDN, a registered dietitian at Top Nutrition Coaching, nutrient-dense fruits like strawberries, watermelon and cantaloupe are refreshing and delicious sources of hydration.

Fruits can absolutely count as part of your hydration due to their high water content. Many are incredibly hydrating since they’re over 90 percent water, Ruz said. Plus, fruits are naturally sweet, which may appeal to people who are less likely to consume enough plain water.

Your daily water intake comes from both liquids and foods, including fruits and vegetables that are high in water content. However, Pumper said food generally only contributes about 20 percent of the body’s total water intake. In other words, you only get about 20% of the water you need each day from the foods you eat.

Catalina Ruz, RDN

Hydration doesn’t have to be boring. Consider your preferences and add some hydrating fruits and vegetables to your plate.

Catalina Ruz, RDN

Even though fruit provides water to your day, Pumper said you’d probably find it difficult to stay hydrated just by eating fruit.

Fruits can help support hydration and may even be slightly, but not significantly, more hydrating than water in the short term, Pumper said. This is likely due to electrolytes typically found in fruits which further benefit the balance of body fluids.

However, Pumper also noted that your body’s daily hydration status is generally well maintained as long as there is fluid and food available and balanced in your diet.

While fruit often gets a bad rap due to its sugar content, it’s wonderfully packed with vitamins and can make hydration more enjoyable, Ruz said.

For example, fruit is a rich source of vitamin C, folic acid, and potassium vitamins that support the immune system, help maintain healthy vision, and act as anti-inflammatory agents against disease.

Can vegetables hydrate you?

According to Ruz, fruit isn’t the only food with a high water content: Adding greens to your diet can also boost hydration. Some greens contain more than 80 percent cooked lettuce, cucumber, kale, celery, spinach, and broccoli.

Catalina Ruz, RDN

It is important for us to meet some of our hydration needs through fruits and vegetables, but also to consume water throughout the day.

Catalina Ruz, RDN

Individuals who consume a diet high in fruits and vegetables may not need to drink as much water due to the water content of these foods, Ruz said.

In addition to helping you meet your daily hydration needs, Ruz said greens are also a source of potassium, as well as essential vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber. Plus, they’re also naturally low in salt (sodium).

A diet high in potassium can promote cellular hydration and prevent the water retention associated with a high-sodium diet, Ruz said. Therefore, a diet that consistently includes a variety of fruits and vegetables can absolutely help you meet your hydration goals.

Which fruits and vegetables are the most hydrating?

Pumper said there are plenty of fruits and vegetables that are high in water—it’s all about finding the ones you like best.

Hydration content of fruits and vegetables
To produce % Water content
Cucumbers 96
Celery 95
Radishes 95
Tomatoes 95
Zucchini and summer squash 95
Lettuce 9496
Asparagus 93
Peppers 9294
Cauliflower ninety two
Mushrooms (white) ninety two
Spinach 91
Watermelon 91
Strawberries 91
Cabbage 9092
Cantaloupe 90
Green melon 90
Broccoli 90
cabbage 89
Peaches 89
Grapefruit 8891
Carrots 88
Oranges 87
Raspberries 86
Pineapple 86
Apples 85
Kiwi 84
Source: USDA

How to add more fruits and vegetables to your diet

Ruz and Pumper also offered some tips on how to fit more of those super-hydrating fruits and veggies into your diet:

  • Add fruit or vegetables to the water. Put a few slices of strawberries and cucumbers in your water bottle to make your drink more flavorful.
  • Eat vegetables with your favorite sauce. Pair hydrating snacks like carrots and celery with a savory dipping sauce or spread (like ranch or hummus).
  • Make a smoothie. Use spinach, strawberries, bananas and ice to make a nourishing and hydrating drink to energize you throughout the day and help you stay hydrated.
  • Sprinkle fruit or vegetables into your meal. You can add fruit to oatmeal or dry cereal for breakfast, and garnish salads or soups with vegetables for lunch and dinner.

Is eating fruits and vegetables enough to stay hydrated?

While some fruits and vegetables can help quench your thirst, Ruz said they shouldn’t be a substitute for water or be the only things you consume to stay hydrated.

It’s important for us to meet some of our hydration needs through fruits and vegetables, but also to consume water throughout the day, Ruz said.

Pumper said there are beverages other than water that you can drink that count towards hydration, such as teas, coconut water, homemade agua fresca, broths and smoothies. If you choose to drink juice, Pumper recommends sticking to 100 percent juice and 4-fluid-ounce servings to keep calories in check.

Balanced nutrition means we don’t rely solely on one food group or element for adequate nutrition, Ruz said. That said, hydration doesn’t have to be boring. Consider your preferences and add some hydrating fruits and vegetables to your plate.

What does it mean to you

Eating fruits and vegetables with a high water content such as watermelon, strawberries, celery and spinach can be a good way to help you stay hydrated this summer.

However, experts say these foods shouldn’t be the only way to meet your hydration needs. Consider drinking water throughout the day or other hydrating beverages such as teas, coconut water, broths, and smoothies.

By Alyssa Hui

Alyssa Hui is a St. Louis-based health and science news writer. In 2020, she received the Midwest Broadcast Journalists Association’s Jack Shelley Award.

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