During this hotter-than-usual season, staying hydrated can seem like a full-time job. While drinking plenty of water is a key strategy for optimum hydration, including fruits and vegetables with a higher water content can contribute 17-25% of adult daily fluid needs.
Fruits and vegetables are not only sources of water –- they are also packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber, phytochemicals, and antioxidants. Include these 10 high water content fruits and vegetables in your daily food choices, aiming for at least five and ½ cup servings per day.
Try to fill half your plate with vegetables and fruit for a healthy approach to meals.
Hydration Helper #1: Cucumber – 97% water
Did you know that cucumbers originated in India over 4,000 years ago? Add chopped cucumber to salads, layer sliced cucumbers in sandwiches, or make tzatziki (Greek yogurt, cucumber, garlic, mint and lime juice) as a vegetable dip.
Hydration Helper #2: Lettuce/Green Leafies – 96% water
We eat approximately 30 pounds of lettuce per person per year? All types of leafy greens are high in water content, and there is such a wide variety that you won’t get bored including lettuce in salads, as a wrap instead of tortillas, or added to sandwiches.
Hydration Helper #3: Celery – 95% water
Celery is a member of the carrot family and was first used in France in the 1600s. Chopped and diced celery adds a welcome crunch to green salads, tuna salad, and chicken salad. Add a celery stalk to juice or go old-school with ants on a log: spread celery sticks with nut butter and line up a row of raisins.
Hydration Helper #4: Tomatoes – 95% water
Tomatoes originated in South America, and when they were first introduced to Europeans in the 1500s, they were used only as ornaments on the table. People thought they were poisonous. Thank goodness we learned otherwise!
Layer slices of tomatoes in a sandwich, add chopped tomatoes to summertime pasta salad, or make gazpacho for a cold summertime soup.
Hydration Helper #5: Zucchini – 93% water
Zucchini is a type of squash that's native to Mexico. Make zucchini into zoodles and use those instead of pasta or you can marinate zucchini with other vegetables for a fresh side dish. I like adding marinated veggies to a green salad instead of salad dressing.
Hydration Helper #6: Watermelon – 91% water
Who doesn’t enjoy fresh watermelon (and a seed spitting contest)? Mix chunks of watermelon with other chopped fruit for a fresh fruit salad, combine with tomato and peppers for a delicious salsa, or blend into smoothies or popsicles.
Hydration Helper #7: Strawberries – 91% water
Did you know that the average strawberry has 200 tiny seeds? Twirl whole strawberries in melted dark chocolate for a decadent yet healthy dessert, add strawberry slices to green salads for a burst of sweet flavor, or toss them with granola and yogurt for breakfast or a snack.
Hydration Helper #8: Melon – 90% water
Melons originated in the Middle East, and it’s believed that Columbus brought melon seeds to the Americas. Make breakfast or snack fruit kabobs with chunks of cantaloupe, honeydew, and watermelon. Or make a chilled melon soup with lime juice and yogurt. Serve chunks of melon wrapped in prosciutto for a quick and delicious appetizer.
Hydration Helper #9: Peaches – 89% water
Peaches were first cultivated in China where they were a symbol of longevity. Layer sliced peaches, granola and yogurt for a breakfast parfait or grill fruit kabobs with chunks of peaches, melon and pineapple.
Hydration Helper #10 Carrots – 88% water
Look for fun carrot colors outside the typical orange: purple, red, white, or yellow are all over farmer's markets these days. Toss shredded carrots with fruit (pineapple, strawberries, and melon) and vegetables (zucchini and celery) for a colorful, healthy, and delicious salad. Dip carrot sticks into hummus for a protein and fiber-rich snack or glaze steamed carrots with cinnamon and maple syrup.
By Lynn Grieger, RDN, CDCES, CPT, CHWC
- Guelinckx I, Tavoularis G, König J, Morin C, Gharbi H, Gandy J. Contribution of Water from Food and Fluids to Total Water Intake: Analysis of a French and UK Population Surveys. Nutrients. 2016 Oct 14;8(10):630. doi: 10.3390/nu8100630. PMID: 27754402; PMCID: PMC5084017.
- Hydrating Foods: The Top 20 and Their Benefits. Jennifer Barry. 8-7-2019. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/325958
- 17 Vegetables Highest in Water. Daisy Whitbread. Last updated 4-24-22. https://www.myfooddata.com/articles/vegetables-high-in-water.php accessed 7-29-22
- Vegetables Facts. http://www.vegetablefacts.net/ Accessed 7-29-22.
- FoodReference.com http://www.foodreference.com Accessed 7-29-22
Stephanie Ronco has been editing for Food and Health Communications since 2011. She graduated from Colorado College magna cum laude with distinction in Comparative Literature. She was elected a member of Phi Beta Kappa in 2008.