It’s easy in the sweltering heat of summer to remember to drink plenty of fluids, but staying hydrated is always important — even during the winter months! Your body is mostly water after all, and water supports a host of basic body processes, including muscle function, skin health, and helping with your body’s detoxing process. Drinking water — whether plain, iced or with cucumber slices — is one way to ensure you’re consuming plenty of the calorie- and sodium-free beverage of choice among health experts. But did you know that when you eat, you also consume some of that hydrating liquid? (And one source says that you likely consume almost one-fifth of your daily water needs through foods!) Here are several options to maximize water intake from your food choices.
Fresh Produce Reigns
Fresh fruit is the low-hanging you-know-what of foods with high water content. Many fresh fruits and vegetables are loaded with water and good options are available all year. A medium skin-on apple is about 85% water by weight. What’s more, fresh apples add great texture to a grain salad, a riff on Waldorf Salad, or a chutney for meats and sandwiches. A banana is about 75% water weight, and is a great snack, breakfast or smoothie addition. Frozen fruits are other good year-round options. Toss some frozen cherries (about 87% weight from water) into a smoothie, or stir thawed frozen cherries into plain yogurt for a big hydration hit.
Fresh vegetables are also water winners. For instance, a small tomato contains about 95% of its weight as water. Try these tomatoes in recipes where they can add texture and flavor: tucked into a sandwich or as a zesty salsa atop roast chicken or pork. Similarly, cucumbers are available all year and boast about 94% of their weight as water. Use them in grain salads, plain or quick-pickled in sandwiches. (Check our suggestions for more on water-filled summertime foods.)
Though at their peak in cooler months, many fresh greens can boost your bottom line for water needs. For example, fresh and versatile spinach is nearly 90% water by weight! Try this spinach salad for a great vegetarian lunch or light dinner, a simple side salad, or a green smoothie for double-hydrating power. Another vegetable available all year, cauliflower is in peak season during the fall. Regardless of the season, fresh cauliflower is about 90% water by weight. We love the mild veggie-forward flavor of cauliflower and using florets in salads or for crudités are smart ways to incorporate more water in your routine.
Pick out the Best Fresh Produce
One way to check that a fruit or vegetable still has plenty of water, indicating it’s fresh and delicious: Pick up two tomatoes, cabbages, or grapefruits, for example — one in each hand — and compare their weights. Always choose the heaviest one, which is heavy in part because of the water content. For prewashed or packaged greens, look for brightly colored, appropriately sturdy or tender leaves without signs of wilting to ensure you’re getting the freshest, most water-packed options.
Other Hydrating Options
Make the most of your snacks, entrée or sauce choices by seeking fruit-and vegetable- or milk-based options. Plain, lowfat milk can boast 90% of its weight from water. Plain, lowfat yogurt, another smart choice because of its filling protein and water, is nearly 85% water! And one cup of unsweetened applesauce has about 80% of its weight from water — or about 2/3 cup. Smoothies, dips, and sauces made from fruits, greens, milk or yogurt will hydrate and nourish.
How do you hydrate? What are your favorite options for sneaking in water through foods?