Surprising facts about hydrating foods

Three children eating watermelon slices in tent

I’ve written about how to make sure you are staying hydrated before, and as the summer heat hits Colorado, I started thinking about it again. Despite my reputation of only drinking ice-cold Coca-Cola, which I know is bad for me, the truth is I do try to pay attention to how much water I drink.

Sometimes, though, the thought of drinking all that water and other good-for-me fluids can be a daunting task. So, I started to wonder if certain foods could supplement my daily fluid intake.

What do you do when you’re curious about health stuff and work for a health organization? Ask!

So, I did, and Jennifer Willis, MD, who practices family medicine at the Banner Health Center in Verrado, had some easy-to-include-in-your-diet suggestions.

Hydrating Fruits and Veggies

“The best fruits for hydration are strawberries, watermelon and papaya,” Dr. Willis said. “They have the highest water content.”

Now, hearing strawberries and watermelon on that list made me very happy. Both are among my top 10 favorite fruits (probably just behind apples and peaches).

Dr. Willis also said these fruits are good options for kids during the summer as alternatives to high-sugar drinks. She suggested adding some to plain water to give them a little extra sweetness and flavor.

But, what about vegetables? Dr. Willis said cucumbers, salad greens and butternut squash all have good amounts of water. Plus, you get something more.

“You get the added benefit of lots of vitamins and fiber (in the squash), and the greens and cucumbers are low in calories and can be very refreshing on hot days,” Dr. Willis said.

A Surprise Choice: Yogurt

Bowl of yogurt with apples, strawberries and blueberries

One option Dr. Willis shared caught me by surprise: yogurt.

“The higher fat and calorie versions actually have more water,” she noted.

And, depending on what kind of yogurt you prefer, some yogurts have added benefit of probiotics and calcium.

Now, don’t assume that you can cut back on the water you drink because you had a salad with cucumbers, a side of watermelon and yogurt at lunch. Dr. Willis cautions that too much of a good thing can be bad.

“You definitely need to limit how much of any of these, specifically sweet fruits, you consume, if you are a diabetic,” she said.

You also have to remember your portion sizes because it will add to your total daily calories. The final piece of advice Dr. Willis had is the most important.

“These foods should be eaten in addition to your normal daily intake of fluids, not to replace fluids,” she said.

So, a nice slab of strawberry pie and a Coca-Cola probably isn’t the best solution, but cutting up a couple of strawberries and throwing them in a glass of water probably is.

I’ll be giving that a try as soon as I finish eating these last couple of bites of pie.

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