Maintaining a healthy, hydrated body is important for everyone but especially athletes. Just as there are foods and drink that can dehydrate you. there are also foods that have such a high water content that they actually contribute to your fluid intake.
Here are the top 5 hydrating foods:
Top Hydrating Foods: Cucumber
Cucumbers are a perfect blend of both fiber and water. The flesh of a cucumber is 96% water. It is also a good source of vitamin C, silica, potassium, and magnesium. Cucumber skin contains high levels of vitamin A, so leave the skin on to get an extra vitamin boost.1
Cucumber can help to regulates blood pressure and contributes to the proper structure of connective tissues in our body, including those in the muscles, bones, ligaments, cartilage, and tendons.1
Cucumbers are not only good to eat, they can also be used to soothe skin irritations and reduce swelling. That’s why spa treatments use cucumber slices to relieve swollen eyes. Cucumbers can also be used to provide relief from a sunburn..
Top Hydrating Foods: Lettuce:
Butterhead lettuceis known for its smooth, loosely bunched, tender leaves. The delicate leaves can be used to wrap other foods, creating a low-carbohydrate wrapper rich in nutrients.
Lettuces in general are high in water content, with many reaching 96.5%. A 1-cup serving of cut butter lettuce contains vitamin A ,vitamin K and potassium. In addition to being essential for eye health, vitamin A is known as the clotting vitamin.2 Vitamin K refers to a group of fat-soluble vitamins that play a role in blood clotting, bone metabolism, and regulating blood calcium levels.3
Top Hydrating Foods: Sweet (or Bell) Peppers:
In the U.S. the term sweet pepper covers a wide variety of mild peppers. The best known sweet peppers are bell peppers, named for their bell-like shape. They have a mild, sweet flavor and crisp juicy flesh. When young most bell peppers are a rich, bright green, but there are also yellow, orange, purple, red and brown bell peppers. Red bell peppers are green bell peppers that have ripened longer and are very sweet.4
In addition to having a high water content (92%), bell peppers are an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin B6. They are a very good source of folate, molybdenum, vitamin E, dietary fiber, vitamin B2, pantothenic acid, niacin and potassium.5
Top Hydrating Foods: Watermelon
A 2009 study at the University of Aberdeen Medical School found that the combination of salts, minerals and natural sugars in some fruits and vegetables can actually hydrate people more effectively than water or even sports drinks. Watermelon was on top of the list, thanks to its 92 percent water content and essential re hydration salts calcium, magnesium, potassium and sodium. 6
There’s even a modest amount of potassium in watermelon. Plus, this quintessential summer snack is fat-free, very low in sodium and has only 40 calories per cup.
Watermelon’s biggest nutritional star is it’s high lycopene levels — about 15 to 20 milligrams per 2-cup serving, according to the National Watermelon Promotion Board — some of the highest levels of any type of fresh produce. Lycopene is a phytonutrient, which is a naturally occurring compound in fruits and vegetables that reacts with the human body to trigger healthy reactions. It is also the red pigment that gives watermelons, tomatoes, red grapefruits and guavas their color.7
Top Hydrating Foods: Tomatoes
Tomatoes are another hydrating food, coming in at 91% water. They’re is also a good source of Vitamin E, Thiamin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Magnesium, Phosphorus and Copper. They’re a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Potassium and Manganese.8
Like watermelon, tomatoes are rich in lycopene. Lycopene is a phytonutrient, which is a naturally occurring compound in fruits and vegetables that reacts with the human body to trigger healthy reactions. It is also the red pigment that gives watermelons, tomatoes, red grapefruits and guavas their color.
Lycopene has been linked with heart health, bone health and prostate cancer prevention. It’s also a powerful antioxidant thought to have anti-inflammatory properties, according to Victoria Jarzabkowski, a nutritionist with the Fitness Institute of Texas at The University of Texas at Austin.7
Here’s a complete list from Susan Kundrat’s book “101 Sports Nutrition Tips”
Top Foods That Are at Least 80% Water:
Food Percentage of Water
Sweet peppers 92%
Canned mushrooms 91%
Honeydew melon 89%
Pasta sauce 87%
Cream of Wheat (cooked) 86%
Canned plums 84%
Mandarin oranges 83%
Cottage cheese 80%
These are all foods I recommend you include in your healthy, well balanced diet. Even though we’re more aware of the dangers of dehydration during the summer months, we should have a year round goal to maintain a healthy level of hydration.
Which ones are YOUR favorite foods? How could you combine them to make a snack or a meal?
Send us your ideas to share with your fellow athletes! Thanks!
A special thank you again, to Susan Kundrat MS, RD, LD for giving me permission to use the information from her book “101 Sports Nutrition Tips” (a book I highly recommend).