You know the importance of staying hydrated—for optimal health and function as well as for sports performance and recovery. But chugging on a water bottle is not the only approach. The food you eat plays a considerable role in providing your body with its daily water requirements. In fact, many fruits and vegetables are up to 90 percent water. You still need to drink fluids to provide all the hydration your body requires, but many of the most hydrating foods also contain essential electrolytes and minerals such as magnesium, potassium and sodium, as well as vitamins and amino acids. Summer is the perfect time to explore some of the best foods to help you stay hydrated and feeling and performing well. Add these foods to your shopping list this summer:
- Watermelon is a favorite in post-race recovery tents for a reason. At 92 percent water and with potassium, magnesium, calcium and sodium, it has shown in some studies to be more effective at rehydrating than water or even sports drinks.
- Strawberries and cantaloupe, at 92 percent water, and peaches, at 88 percent water, are also good sources of potassium.
- Blueberries, cranberries, raspberries and blackberries are all more than 85 percent water and are high in antioxidants and other essential vitamins.
- Cucumber is a good source of vitamin C, and the flesh is 96 percent water.
- Celery is 95 percent water and rich in vitamins and minerals.
- Lettuce is 96 percent water and spinach is 92 percent—and both pack a nutritional punch: They’re each high in vitamins A, K and C, fiber and folate. Spinach, which also contains a significant amount of calcium, is one of the most nutrient-dense foods you can add to your plate.
- Cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli are rich in antioxidants as well as vitamins, minerals and fiber. These cruciferous vegetables are all more than 92 percent water.
Did you know? Cooking meat and some fruit and vegetables reduces water content, depending on the cooking method. But cooking other foods using milk or water, such as soups, stews and oatmeal, means liquids are absorbed, which boosts water content.
For a cooling post-workout treat or hot summer’s night dessert, try this guilt-free banana, berry and coconut “ice cream.” Peel and roughly chop a banana before freezing for at least five hours. Combine frozen banana with a half-cup of frozen berries of choice in a blender or food processor. Pulse until they become smooth and creamy. Add a spoonful of coconut butter (or almond butter if you prefer) and pulse until combined. Serve immediately.