9 Best Hydrating Foods: Don’t Just Drink Your Water, Eat Your Water

Drinking water is important, but hydrating foods also provide essential nutrients and electrolytes—making it easy to multi-task when it comes to hydration. Here are the nine best hydrating foods that are essential to keeping your skin hydrated (and your energy up!) all summer long.

Image: collage of watermelon cucumbers oranges celery strawberries cabbage tomatoes peaches grapefruit. These are the best hydrating foods for your body and skin.
Credit: Collage by Organic Authority studio.

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With the sun beating down in the summer months, it’s important to stay hydrated. (Want to know how much water you should really be drinking? Check out our guide.) But don’t limit yourself to sucking down glasses of water! There are other ways to stay hydrated and have increased energy to boot. 

“Hydrating fruits and vegetables are packed with electrolytes like magnesium and potassium,” explains Dr. Josh Axe, D.N.M., C.N.S., D.C., founder of Ancient Nutrition and DrAxe.com, author of the best-selling books KETO DIET and COLLAGEN DIET, and host of the podcast, The Dr. Axe Show. “The body needs these nutrients to combat electrolyte imbalance, which aids hydration. Although drinking water alone is important, getting water from foods provides the nutrients you need to thrive, so it is also critical.”

Lisa Richards, nutritionist and author of The Candida Diet, notes that in cases of dehydration, getting water from food rather than drinking it plain could actually help you fight symptoms more quickly for this very reason.

“Electrolytes are essential to proper hydration as they keep the body’s pH balanced and are otherwise lost through sweat along with diarrhea, burns, and even kidney failure,” she explains. “Mild dehydration may be remedied through plain drinking water, but moderate dehydration requires potassium and sodium to be replaced. In this way, foods can be more hydrating than plain water.” 

9 Hydrating Foods

These nine hydrating foods are perfect for summertime; not only will you be adding extra water to your diet, but you’ll be getting extra natural sugars for quick energy on draining, humid, hot days.

1. Watermelon

Image of sliced watermelon
Watermelon is great sliced, but you can also juice it or add it to saladsCredit: Watermelon is great sliced, but you can also juice it or add it to salads.

As its name suggests, watermelon is made up of more than 90 percent water. Refreshing and sweet, watermelon is perfect as a quick cure to the beginnings of dehydration, with a boost of energy from the sugar that will help stave off symptoms as the water is absorbed by your body. It is also rich in potassium, an important electrolyte. Try using watermelon in a 3-ingredient watermelon sorbet, tossing it into a salad with salty feta cheese, or freezing individual slices on sticks (with drizzled chocolate!) for the easiest popsicle ever. And if you’re really thirsty, just drink your watermelon—make an agua fresca garnished with mint!

2. Cucumber

Pile of persian cucumber
Cucumbers are crunchy, refreshing, and full of water!

Cucumbers are 95 percent water; it’s no wonder that so many people place cucumber slices in their pitchers of water for a refreshing summertime beverage (or use them to hydrate tired eyes!) Cucumbers also contain essential vitamins like C, A, B6, and K, making them a healthy and refreshing snack. Try them in homemade fizzy cucumber lemonade for a refreshing, non-alcoholic beverage on a hot summer’s day.

3. Oranges

sliced oranges layered
Oranges are great in both sweet and savory recipes—try them in salads or with grilled meat!

Not only are oranges packed full of vitamin C and fiber, but they’re also full of water – about 88 percent, in fact. Plain orange slices are perfect on a hot day for a burst of energy and added hydration.

Richards highlights the antioxidant quality of oranges, which can help fight inflammation and improve overall health.

“These plant compounds do more than just fight free radical damage,” she says. “For instance, the citric acid content of oranges prevents kidney stones by binding to the calcium oxalate and removing it from the body.”

Enjoy oranges in a delicious orange salad with watercress and beets.

“For instance, the citric acid content of oranges prevents kidney stones by binding to the calcium oxalate and removing it from the body.”

4. Strawberries

shining strawberries with their green stems on
We thought there was no way we could love strawberries any more than we already do… but now that we know they’re hydrating, we’re obsessed!

Sweet strawberries may taste like pure heaven, but they’re actually more than 90 percent water! They’re perfect for snacking on in the summertime, when they’re in season and widely available at your local farmers markets. Try them in a delicious and refreshing chilled strawberry soup.

5. Celery

Celery leaves and stalks
Celery is full of vitamins, minerals… and water. A great choice for hot days.

Celery is 96 percent water, so if you’re really in need of a hydrating snack, this is the right place to turn. Try it in a refreshing mint and celery salad or juice your celery.

6. Iceberg Lettuce

iceberg lettuce ribs and veins
Iceberg lettuce is a great source of fiber and water.

Iceberg lettuce has gotten a bad rap of late. As compared to some of our other favorite salad greens like kale and spinach, it’s fairly low in nutrients, but what it lacks in vitamins and minerals, it more than makes up for in water content. Iceberg boasts a whopping 96 percent water; try it tossed with a simple vinaigrette with cucumbers and cubed watermelon for a delicious, refreshing summer salad.

7. Peaches

peach halved with pit in the middle
Who knew that peaches and cream could be hydrating?

Peaches are rich in flavor – and in water! These summer fruits are made up of 89 percent water, and they’re plentiful on farmer’s market stands in summer months. Grilled and tossed in a salad, they’re a refreshing summer treat. Peaches are a delicious dessert too.

8. Tomatoes

cherry tomatoes mixed with stems
Sweet morsels bursting with flavor… and water!

Tomatoes are 95 percent water, so this summertime staple is perfect for hydration. Tomatoes are also rich in antioxidant lycopene, which research shows may protect against sunburns – the perfect added bonus this time of year. Eat them plain or tossed with olive oil for a delicious summertime salad.

9. Grapefruit

sliced grapefruit
Grapefruit is a great hydrating snack to bring on a sweaty hike.

Grapefruit is a whopping 88 percent water, and with its juicy texture and subtle sweetness, it couldn’t be more refreshing. It is also rich in citric acid, which some research has shown may be effective at preventing kidney stones by increasing the volume and pH of urine. Tossed with thinly sliced fennel, grapefruit makes a delicious salad.

We love any food that feels like it’s helping us multi-task—so a meal that hydrates while providing essential nutrition is a win-win! Do you like to eat these foods on hot days, or after an intense workout or sauna sesh? Let us know your favorite hydrating food in the comments! For more healthy living ideas, make sure you’re signed up for our newsletter.

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Emily Monaco is a food and culture writer based in Paris. Her work has been featured in the Wall... More about Emily Monaco