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5 hydrating foods you need for summer

heeral-patel-bio

Reviewed byHeeral Patel

Straw hat, refreshing drinks and citrus fruits. Palm shadow and sunlight,
Water is so important for staying hydrated, but did you know certain foods can help support your daily hydration goals too? Discover five of the best here

Summary

1Can food hydrate you?

On average your body gets about 20% of the water it needs from the foods you eat throughout the day...

2The benefits of being hydrated​

Of course, food alone is unlikely to be enough to prevent dehydration. Drinking enough water is vital too...

3What does water do to our body​?

Water is essential for life. Without water, humans can survive only for a few days...

We’re here to talk hydration… but with a twist. Warmer days come with the warning of dehydration and making sure you drink plenty of water is important. But you don't need to stop there, as certain foods can help to keep us hydrated too.

On average your body gets about 20% of the water it needs from the foods you eat throughout the day.1 Raw fruits and vegetables typically provide the highest water content. Any fruits and vegetables with more than 80% water content make a refreshing choice.1

Luckily, summer barbecues, picnics and garden parties are all good chances to serve up thirst-quenching dishes. Here's what you need in your salads, garnishes, crudités and more.

Cucumbers

Made up of around 96% water, cucumbers contain the highest water content of any food. Due to this they’re also low in calories but provide a source of vitamins and fibre.2

Cucumbers are very versatile, meaning they can be used in a variety of recipes. Impress your guests with Asian style cucumber salads, the viral green goddess salad, or with freshly baked cream cheese and cucumber bagels. Or whip up some delicious dips to enjoy with tortilla chips – think cooling cucumber and mint gazpacho or creamy tzatziki.

Crunchy and refreshing, they add great texture and a mild, lightly sweet flavour to any dish – you can even pickle them. Check out our recipe for how to pickle with apple cider vinegar in 6 steps.

Kiwi

There’s a whole lot of water content in kiwis3, in fact, over 80%.4

Kiwis are also very high in vitamin C and contain an array of other nutrients, such as dietary fibre, potassium, vitamin E and folate. They also include a wide range of antioxidants, phytonutrients, and enzymes.5

Emerging research data on the health benefits of kiwifruit suggest they should be considered as part of a natural and effective dietary approach to tackle some health and wellness concerns. Regular consumption of the kiwifruit is recommended as part of a balanced diet.5
Kiwis are sweet and refreshing, offering a pleasant little tang due to their citrusy notes. They’re ideal for blitzing into smoothies, served in fruit salads and skewers or even chopped up in salsas. You could also cool yourself down with some homemade creamy avocado, kiwi and lime ice lollies or zesty kiwi sorbet.

For more on kiwis, head over to 5 things you didn't know about kiwi fruit.

Peaches

Peaches contain 89% water content and provide a good source of vitamins C and A and potassium.6

Peaches offer a delicate, floral sweetness and can be used in both hot or cold, sweet or savoury recipes.

Though eating a peach on its own is sweet and succulent, why not try making a tasty grilled peach and blue cheese salad? Or wow your visitors with jars of homemade spiced peach and pepper chutney, bake puff pastry peach and almond slices, whip up a peach melba cheesecake or create a summery and light feta and peach couscous.

Strawberries

As well as helping you reach your hydration goals, most berries will offer you high amounts of fibre too, thanks to their skins and seeds. But with an impressive 91% water content, strawberries are the most hydrating berry.7

Strawberries are amongst one of the most popular fruits in the world, offering the perfect balance of sweetness and acidity.

To get the most hydration out of strawberries, it’s best to eat them in their raw form. However, they can be enjoyed in many ways.

Whether you choose to indulge in a classic strawberry-and-cream pairing, or whip up something more adventurous, these little red, heart-shaped fruits are pretty versatile. If you prefer savoury tastes, strawberries also pair well with goats’ cheese and go well in a salad with balsamic glaze.

Citrus fruits

Grapefruit has a high 91% total water content8, and oranges contain 87% water.9

It’s no coincidence that citrus fruits are commonly juiced, as they offer so much hydrating water from their sweet-tart interiors.

Citrus fruits are an all-rounder on taste and nutrition, plus they offer a generous amount of vitamin C. Not to mention, they are abundant in other macronutrients too, including dietary fibre, potassium, folate, calcium, thiamine, niacin, vitamin B6, phosphorus, magnesium, copper, riboflavin, and pantothenic acid.10
Citrus fruits are great for using in dressings and marinades. Vibrant and delicious, they can be used in a mixture of salads, noodle dishes, jellies, or simply served with Greek yoghurt.

The benefits of being hydrated

Of course, food alone is unlikely to be enough to prevent dehydration. Drinking enough water is vital too. 

Dehydration can cause:11 
  • unclear thinking or confusion 
  • result in mood change 
  • cause your body to overheat 
  • lead to constipation and kidney stones
Good hydration can also prevent:12 
  • urinary tract infections (UTIs) 
  • headaches 
  • dizziness that can lead to falls 
  • pressure ulcers/skin conditions 
  • overall poor health
Head over to our article on the importance of hydration, for more about the benefits of keeping hydrated!

What does water do to our body?

Water is essential for life. Without water, humans can survive only for a few days.13

It’s the most abundant constituent of the human body, accounting for 50-80% of body weight, depending mainly on body fat content.14

Water helps your body:15
  • maintain a normal temperature
  • lubricate and cushion joints
  • protect your spinal cord and other sensitive tissues
  • get rid of wastes through urination, perspiration, and bowel movements

How to stay hydrated:

Did you know that 66% of the UK population are not drinking enough water every day? This rises to 79% for the over 65s.16

And a study involving 1,000 people from the UK, between the ages of 17 and 99 years, found that 26% of people don’t feel the need to drink water, and 45% never even think about it.17, 18

Keeping a bottle of water by your side and when you’re out and about may encourage you to drink more often throughout the day – you can even get bottles that have measurements, to keep you on track.

If you’re not a lover of water, herbal teas offer a fantastic alternative. As well as hydration, they are high in antioxidants, calming and often caffeine free.19 Or if ice tea is more your thing, check out how to make iced tea at home.

You could even try downloading a hydration timer to your phone, which will remind you to frequently drink water.

How much water is too much?

There isn’t a set amount of water that causes water intoxication. The kidneys can process about one litre of fluid per hour, so any amount above that over a few hours can be risky.20,21 It’s better to sip water frequently throughout the day, than to drink large quantities in one go. 

You’ve probably heard about the eight-glasses-a-day (about 64 ounces) recommendation. However, hydration varies from person to person depending on body weight and size, and changes due to heat, humidity, and activity levels.22

The final say

Staying hydrated is key to functioning at your best, so make sure you don’t scrimp on water and supplement your daily intake with plenty of fresh fruit and veg. To get the most from them in terms of fibre as well as hydration, eat them as they are – but you can mix it up with recipes too.

If all that has got you in the mood for food, check out our tips on staying healthy this summer.

Sources

1. Mukherjee PK, Nema NK, Maity N, Sarkar BK. Phytochemical and therapeutic potential of cucumber. Fitoterapia [Internet]. 2013 Jan; 84:227–36. Available from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0367326X12002791
2. 10 water-rich foods to help you stay hydrated [Internet]. www.bupa.co.uk. Available from: https://www.bupa.co.uk/newsroom/ourviews/ten-water-rich-foods-hydration#:~:text=Cucumber%2C%2096%25%20water
3. FoodData Central [Internet]. Usda.gov. 2019. Available from: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/168153/nutrients
4. Ozgen F, Celik N. Evaluation of Design Parameters on Drying of Kiwi Fruit. Applied Sciences. 2018 Dec 20;9(1):10.
5. Richardson DP, Ansell J, Drummond LN. The nutritional and health attributes of kiwifruit: A review. European Journal of Nutrition. 2018 Feb 22;57(8):2659–76.
6. 25 water-rich foods to help you stay hydrated this summer | Prevention | UT Southwestern Medical Center [Internet]. utswmed.org. [cited 2024 Apr 26]. Available from: https://utswmed.org/medblog/hydrating-healthy-foods/#:~:text=PEACH%3A%2089%25%20water
7. FoodData Central [Internet]. fdc.nal.usda.gov. Available from: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/2346409/nutrients
8. FoodData Central [Internet]. fdc.nal.usda.gov. [cited 2024 Apr 26]. Available from: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/173034/nutrients
9. FoodData Central [Internet]. fdc.nal.usda.gov. Available from: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/169918/nutrients
10. Lv X, Zhao S, Ning Z, Zeng H, Shu Y, Tao O, et al. Citrus fruits as a treasure trove of active natural metabolites that potentially provide benefits for human health. Chemistry Central Journal. 2015 Dec;9(1).
11. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Water and Healthier Drinks [Internet]. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2020. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/healthy_eating/water-and-healthier-drinks.html
12. NHS. Hydration [Internet]. NHS inform. 2023. Available from:https://www.nhsinform.scot/campaigns/hydration/
13. Popkin BM, D’Anci KE, Rosenberg IH. Water, Hydration, and Health. Nutrition Reviews [Internet]. 2020 Jul 20;68(8):439–58. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2908954/
14. National Research Council (US) Subcommittee on the Tenth Edition of the Recommended Dietary Allowances. Water and Electrolytes [Internet]. Nih.gov. National Academies Press (US); 2016. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK234935/
15. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Water and Healthier Drinks [Internet]. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2020. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/healthy_eating/water-and-healthier-drinks.html
16. Magazine H. Heatwave sores and Brits suffer from dehydration [Internet]. Hinton Magazine. 2022 [cited 2024 Apr 26]. Available from: https://www.hintonmagazine.com/post/heatwave-sores-and-brits-suffer-from-dehydration#:~:text=According%20to%20new%20research%20by
17. NHS. Heatwave: how to cope in hot weather [Internet]. nhs.uk. 2022. Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/seasonal-health/heatwave-how-to-cope-in-hot-weather/
18. Temperature: Dehydration - HSE [Internet]. www.hse.gov.uk. Available from: https://www.hse.gov.uk/temperature/employer/dehydration.htm
19. National Health Service. The Eatwell Guide [Internet]. NHS. 2022. Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/food-guidelines-and-food-labels/the-eatwell-guide/
20. Farrell DJ. Fatal water intoxication. Journal of Clinical Pathology [Internet]. 2003 Oct 1;56(10):803-a-804. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1770067/
21. Health Direct Australia. Drinking water [Internet]. www.healthdirect.gov.au. 2021. Available from: https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/drinking-water-and-your-health
22. Heat Stress: Hydration [Internet]. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. [cited 2024 May 10]. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/mining/userfiles/works/pdfs/2017-126.pdf
 

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