Foods that keep you hydrated – According to the old rule of thumb, you're supposed to drink eight glasses of water per day (and some experts recommend even more). That can seem like a daunting task on some days, but here's the catch: You don't have to drink all that water. Roughly 20% of our daily H2O intake comes from solid foods, especially fruits and vegetables.
It's still important to drink plenty of water — especially in the summertime — but you can also quench your thirst with these 15 hugely hydrating foods, all of which are at least 90% water by weight.
Radishes – Radishes
Water content: 95.3%
These refreshing root vegetables should be a fixture in your spring and summer salads. They provide a burst of spicy-sweet flavor—and color!—in a small package, and more importantly they're filled with antioxidants such as catechin (also found in green tea).
A crunchy texture also makes radishes a perfect addition to healthy summer coleslaw—no mayo required. Slice them up with shredded cabbage and carrots, sliced snow peas, and chopped hazelnuts and parsley, and toss with poppy seeds, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper.
Green peppers – Green peppers
Water content: 93.9%
Bell peppers of all shades have a high water content, but green peppers lead the pack, just edging out the red and yellow varieties (which are about 92% water). And contrary to popular belief, green peppers contain just as many antioxidants as their slightly sweeter siblings.
Peppers are a great pre-dinner or late-night snack, Gans says. "We tell people to munch on veggies when they have a craving, but a lot of people get bored of carrots and celery pretty quickly," she says. "Peppers are great to slice up when you get home from work, while you're making or waiting for dinner."
Cauliflower – Cauliflower
Water content: 92.1%
Don't let cauliflower's pale complexion fool you: In addition to having lots of water, these unassuming florets are packed with vitamins and phytonutrients that have been shown to help lower cholesterol and fight cancer, including breast cancer. (A 2012 study of breast cancer patients by Vanderbilt University researchers found that eating cruciferous veggies like cauliflower was associated with a lower risk of dying from the disease or seeing a recurrence.)
"Break them up and add them to a salad for a satisfying crunch," Gans suggests. "You can even skip the croutons!"
Watermelon – Watermelon
Water content: 91.5%
It's fairly obvious that watermelon is full of, well, water, but this juicy melon is also among the richest sources of lycopene, a cancer-fighting antioxidant found in red fruits and vegetables. In fact, watermelon contains more lycopene than raw tomatoes—about 12 milligrams per wedge, versus 3 milligrams per medium-sized tomato.
Although this melon is plenty hydrating on its own, Gans loves to mix it with water in the summertime. "Keep a water pitcher in the fridge with watermelon cubes in the bottom," she says. "It's really refreshing, and great incentive to drink more water overall."
Star fruit – Star fruit
Water content: 91.4%
This tropical fruit, also known as carambola, comes in sweet and tart varieties and has a juicy texture similar to pineapple. Its eye-catching shape looks great in a fruit salad or as an edible garnish on the rim of a summer cocktail, and as an added bonus it's rich in antioxidants, especially epicatechin — a heart-healthy compound also found in red wine, dark chocolate, and green tea.
One note of caution: People with kidney problems should avoid star fruit because of its high levels of oxalic acid.
Broccoli – Broccoli
Water content: 90.7%
Like its cousin cauliflower, raw broccoli adds a satisfying crunch to a salad. But its nutritional profile — lots of fiber, potassium, vitamin A, and vitamin C — is slightly more impressive. What's more, broccoli is the only cruciferous vegetable (a category that contains cabbage and kale, in addition to cauliflower) with a significant amount of sulforaphane, a potent compound that boosts the body's protective enzymes and flushes out cancer-causing chemicals.
Grapefruit – Grapefruit
Water content: 90.5%
This juicy, tangy citrus fruit can help lower cholesterol and shrink your waistline, research suggests. In one study, people who ate one grapefruit a day lowered their bad (LDL) cholesterol by 15.5% and their triglycerides by 27%. In another, eating half a grapefruit — roughly 40 calories — before each meal helped dieters lose about three and a half pounds over 12 weeks. Researchers say that compounds in the fruit help fuel fat burn and stabilize blood sugar, therefore helping to reduce cravings.
Baby carrots – Baby carrots
Water content: 90.4%
A carrot's a carrot, right? Not when it comes to water content. As it turns out, the baby-sized carrots that have become a staple in supermarkets and lunchboxes contain more water than full-size carrots (which are merely 88.3% water).
The ready-to-eat convenience factor is hard to top, as well. Snack on them right out of the bag, dip them in hummus or guacamole, or — for a bit of added crunch and bright orange color — chop them up and add them to salads or salsas.
Cantaloupe – Cantaloupe
Water content: 90.2%
This succulent melon provides a big nutritional payoff for very few calories. One six-ounce serving — about one-quarter of a melon — contains just 50 calories but delivers a full 100% of your recommended daily intake of vitamins A and
"I love cantaloupe as a dessert," Gans says. "If you've got a sweet tooth, it will definitely satisfy." Tired of plain old raw fruit? Blend cantaloupe with yogurt and freeze it into sherbet, or puree it with orange juice and mint to make a refreshing soup.