The Best Foods That Will Keep You Hydrated

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Nutrition researchers have discovered that eating food with a higher water contentcan help you feel satisfied longer after a meal, and maintain a healthy weight as you get older.  Barbara Rolls, head of Pennsylvania State University’s Laboratory for the Study of Human Ingestive Behavior, calls it lowering the calorie density of your overall diet.   What’s more, eating water in food has been found to be more satiating than drinking water as a beverage.

But which foods actually contain the most water?  Here’s a look at the water content (as a percentage by weight) of many common foods, as compiled by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA):

Vegetables  (80-95% water on average)

  • Iceberg lettuce   96%
  • Cucumber   96%
  • Tomatoes, canned  94%
  • Spinach  91%
  • Broccoli  91%
  • Canned pumpkin    90%
  • Squash, various types   88%
  • Carrots   88%
  • Sweet potato   80%
  • Baked potato  75%

Fruits   (80-95% water on average):

  • Fresh strawberries   96%
  • Watermelon    91%
  • Cantaloupe   90%
  • Grapefruit   90%
  • Peach   89%
  • Raspberries, fresh   86%  (p.8)
  • Applesauce, unsweetened  88%
  • Apple   85%
  • Mango   83%
  • Kiwi fruit  83%
  • Grapes (red or green)   80%
  • Blueberries, frozen  77%
  • Raspberries, frozen   73%

Soups and Smoothies  (85-95% water on average): 

  • Chicken noodle soup (canned)   94%
  • Mushroom soup  (canned)  87%
  • Smoothie or shake made with fruits and greens  80%

Fish (60-85% water on average):

  • Pollock   74%
  • Canned tuna   60-73%
  • Salmon  68%

Meat and alternatives  (40-65% water on average):

  • Tofu, soft   87%
  • Ground turkey  62%
  • Chickpeas (garbanzo beans)   60%
  • Beef, round steak 55%
  • Chicken  51%

Dairy  (35-88% water on average):

  • Yogurt, plain,    86%
  • Cottage cheese   82%
  • Egg, poached  75%
  • Cheese, feta  57%
  • Ice cream, rich    57%
  • Cheese, mozzarella  50%
  • Margarine   37%

Breads and grains  (30-40% water on average):

  • Brown rice, cooked  73%
  • Barley, cooked  69%
  • Hamburger roll   35%
  • Bagel   32%
  • Whole-grain bread  31%
  • Ready to eat cereals   2%

Nuts and seeds  (2-5% water on average):

  • Almonds   5%
  • Peanuts   3%
  • Mixed nuts   2%
  • Pumpkin seeds  2%
  • Sunflower seeds  1%

Fats and oils  (0% water on average):

  • Olive oil   0%
  • Lard  0%

Fast food  (10-60% on average):

  • Cheeseburger with condiments and vegetables   60%
  • Double cheeseburger, no condiments   43%
  • Burrito with cheese   54%
  • Pizza    46%
  • French fries   39%

Snacks  (2-5% water on average):

  • Crackers   3-4%
  • Cookies   2%
  • Potato chips   2%
  • Corn chips  2%

As you can see, fruits, vegetables, and prepared foods such as smoothies and soups are water-rich heroes when compared to highly-processed items like crackers and chips.  Rolls and other nutrition experts advise lowering the calorie density of your meals by opting for these water-dense foods, in order to consume less without feeling deprived.

  • Read more: 5 ways to cut calories without really noticing

Watch for fiber too:   Clearly water content isn’t the only barometer to use when choosing healthy foods in order to age more slowly.  Eggnog may be 83% water, but it can also be loaded with added sugar and fat.  Make sure you pay attention to thedietary fiber content as well; fiber is a crucial component of a healthy diet, and has been shown to help ward off age-related disease and boost overall longevity.

The good news is, focusing on fruits and vegetables for their water-rich properties will also deliver lots of healthy dietary fiber in one package.

  • Read more: How to get more fiber in your diet

Likewise, nuts and seeds may only contain between about 2-5% water, but eating these healthy omega 3 fatty acid-rich foods is also linked to greater longevity – and surprisingly not to increased body weight, despite being high in fat and calories.

How much water should you really be getting each day?  This has been a subject of some debate in medical journals and health magazines in recent years.   Conventional wisdom says you should be drinking 8-10 glasses of water daily, but all sources of water – food and beverages – count towards the total.

In her book Volumetrics, Rolls writes that a full 20% of the water we consume comes from the food we eat.  That percentage is likely higher if you choose foods which contain 50% or more water.  Since eating at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day is also closely linked with lower mortality and better health, getting more of them on your plate won’t just help you eat fewer calories, you’ll get rid of dangerous dangerous belly fat and live longer, too.

  • Find out the best reasons to keep your smoothies green
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