Is there anything better than a cold glass of water on a hot summer’s day? We think not. Water isn’t just a refreshing drink — it helps your body to function at its best. Every part of the body needs water to work, from your skin and organs to your bones and joints. Water is naturally lost through breathing, perspiration and digestion, so it’s important to replenish it by eating and drinking foods and beverages with a high water content.
While everyone’s water needs differ — experts recommend aiming for at least 8 cups of water a day. During the warmer months and before, during and after exercise, you’ll want to increase your consumption.
Staying properly hydrated may also give your weight loss efforts a boost. A recent study showed increased hydration may be linked to a decrease in energy consumption.1 In fact, research indicates that drinking water may slightly increase your metabolism2 — and it could help you feel fuller if you sip a glass before your next meal.3 That same feeling of fullness can also come from foods that are high in water content.
We’ve rounded up eight of the best foods for hydration that not only taste great but are also excellent sources of a variety of nutrients. In moderation, they’re great for weight loss — you’ll see them in meals from Jenny Craig or on our Fresh & Free Additions list. Enjoy!
1. Summer squash
Yellow squash and zucchini are 95 percent water.4 A cup of cooked zucchini delivers 32 grams of calcium,5 which helps promote bone health.6 The mild, sweet flavor of squash makes it a great nutrient-rich substitution for noodles. Make “zoodles” with raw squash using a spiralizer or give chopped squash a quick steam to lock in their flavor and nutrients.
A cup of chopped tomatoes clocks in at 94 percent water.7 Tossing a cup of raw chopped tomatoes onto a salad adds just under 25 grams of vitamin C,8 an essential antioxidant that supports immune health.9 Raw or sautéed, this veggie can add flavor and nutrients to any dish. Add a little spice by mixing a tablespoon or two of tomato-based salsa into a dish or toss ripe tomatoes with a crisp salad.
3. Leafy Greens
Whether you like iceberg lettuce or spinach as your greens, you’ll be consuming a lot of water. They each contain 96 and 91 percent water, respectively. Just one cup of shredded romaine is a rich source of potassium, clocking in at 116 grams per cup.10 Diets rich in potassium are linked to a lower risk of stroke.11 Incorporate these hydrating greens by making a side salad or simply topping your entrée with shredded greens for extra crunch. Need some salad ideas? Try these Simply Inspired Side Salads for a quick and delicious side dish.
Radishes may be small, but they are made up of 95 percent water.12 These root vegetables pack a spicy punch of water-soluble B-vitamins and minerals, which can dissolve in water and need to be replenished daily.13 Many people with diabetes have an increased risk of dehydration due to high blood glucose levels, but new research suggests radishes may help to manage these levels, although more clinical trials are needed to further support these findings.14-15
The high water content and many of the veggies found in soups all combine to deliver a hefty dose of hydration. A surprising study showed chicken soup may be better for rehydration than a sports drink, due to its carbohydrates and electrolytes.16 Electrolytes, including sodium and calcium, help with hydration by balancing the amount of water in your body.17 Jenny Craig’s Italian Wedding Soup is a great post-workout meal to start rehydrating and has a healthy mix of protein, carbs, sodium and dietary fiber.
This purple palate-pleaser is one of the top veggies in terms of high water content — 75 percent per cup. 18 Eggplant has an even higher amount of potassium compared to lettuce, at 122 grams per cup.19 Sauté some with onions, peppers and tomatoes for a quick ratatouille, or slice and grill it for a tasty addition to sandwiches. Pro tip: Keep a batch of grilled eggplant in the fridge during the week for a quick and hydrating snack.
If you get tired of drinking water, substitute it with your favorite tea. Tea isn’t just delicious, it’s also been shown to have positive effects on heart health, including lowering ischemic stroke risk and reducing the risk of coronary artery disease.20 You can drink it hot or cold, so get creative! If you’re choosing a caffeinated tea, don’t worry about negating its hydration power. Although tea is a mild diuretic, you’ll still reap the benefits of drinking water.21
When you picture the difference between fresh mushrooms and the dried versions, it’s not surprising that mushrooms are about 90 percent water.22 Mushrooms are healthy to boot — a cup of sliced, grilled portabella mushrooms packs a whopping 163 grams of phosphorus,23 a nutrient that helps the body use carbohydrates and fats, and also helps the body create protein.24 Adding some fresh fungi to your salads and soups are two ways to up your hydration game.
Staying hydrated all day long just got a lot easier. Try adding these eight foods to your meals to quench your thirst and benefit your body — you might be surprised at how great you feel!
To learn more about how to use delicious food to support your health and weight loss goals, contact a Jenny Craig coach for your free appointment today!
Nicki is a journalist with expertise in healthy eating and exercise. She is the former editor-in-chief of Competitor Running and managing editor of Women's Running magazines and writes articles and crafts recipes for a variety of websites and publications. She also loves cycling, making music and is wild about cats, dogs and other animals.
Favorite healthy snack: anything with nut butter!
Reviewed by Briana Rodriquez, RDN
Briana is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Personal Trainer for Jenny Craig, based in Carlsbad, California. She is passionate about utilizing food as functional and preventative medicine. Guided by a simplistic and optimistic approach, Briana’s philosophy is to help people improve their health and achieve their goals through the development of sustainable habits to live a healthy life. In her free time, you can find her strength training, indoor cycling, coffee tasting, and at local eateries with her husband and two dogs.
Favorite healthy snack: peanut butter with celery alongside a grapefruit-flavored sparkling water (so refreshing!)
This article is based on scientific research and/or other scientific articles and was written by an experienced health and lifestyle contributor and fact-checked by Briana Rodriquez, RDN, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist at Jenny Craig.
Our goal at Jenny Craig is to provide the most up-to-date and objective information on health-related topics, so our readers can make informed decisions based on factual content. All articles undergo an extensive review process, and depending on topic, are reviewed by a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) or Nutritionist, to ensure accuracy.
This article contains trusted sources including scientific, peer-reviewed papers. All references are hyperlinked at the end of the article to take readers directly to the source.