When it comes to hydrating, there’s no substitute for chugging down a glass of actual water (or alt-water), but gobbling up a piece of fruit is among the top ways to achieve optimal hydration, especially in these sweltering summer months. That said, before you reach into that fruit bowl for a snack, you need to know that fruits are far from created equally when it comes to keeping you hydrated.
The water content in fresh fruit can vary by more than 20% – and that’s without mentioning dried fruit like cranberries or mango strips. Sure, you should be mindful of caloric intake, particularly in some sugar-rich fruits like blueberries, but if your goal is to stay hydrated, read on for the keys to the food hydration pyramid.
15-20% water content: Dried & dehydrated fruit
Examples: Banana chips, dried cranberries, dried mango strips, dehydrated strawberries
A handful of dried cranberries might make an excellent addition to a salad, and a cup of dried bananas is an easy snack when you’re on the run, but if you’re trying to stay hydrated, dried fruits are obviously not the first thing you ought to be reaching for. That’s because most dried fruits contain just 15 to 20% water content, depending on the variety. These fruits might hold you over until your next meal, but they won’t replenish the fluids you burn off throughout the day by any means.
70-79% water content
Examples: Bananas, avocados, jackfruit, breadfruit, passion fruit
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No surprise here that the absolute starchiest of the fruit kingdom are the least hydrating in their natural, freshly picked state. Fresh, mashed avocado might make a creamy addition to dry toast at the breakfast table, but it’s not going to do you any good on a hike. Likewise, jackfruit is often used as a vegan meat substitute, so it’s no wonder that the chewy, hearty flesh isn’t overwhelmingly moist. If you’re trying to rehydrate, keep on looking.
80-84% water content
Apples, pears, grapes, cherries, mangos, guava, kiwi, dragon fruit
Apples, grapes and pears are three fruits frequently included in the bottled juice blends sold in grocery stores. And with 80-84% water content, it’s easy to see why. This tier of hydration is full of fruits many would describe as crisp and refreshing, but probably not dribble-down-your-chin juicy.
85-89% water content
Oranges (and relatives like mandarins, tangerines, satsumas and clementines), pineapple, stone fruit (peaches, plums, apricots), blueberries, lemons, limes, papaya, raspberries, pomegranates, cranberries
As we near the bottom of the pyramid, both the water content and the number of fruit within the category rise dramatically. Pick a seasonal fruit not available year-round in your neighborhood grocery store and it’s likely on this list along with kitchen-counter cooking staples like lemons and limes. Perhaps surprisingly, fresh cranberries make this tier of super hydrating fruits, along with bite-size peers blueberries and raspberries, which just goes to show you that big (hydrating) things can come in small packages. Of course, you can’t just skip out on drinking water all day, have a handful of blueberries and expect to stay sufficiently hydrated. But all the fruits on this list will help replenish your water supply, depending on the amount you eat.
90% and up
Grapefruit, watermelon, cantaloupe, tomatoes, strawberries, starfruit
If you thought that the most hydrating fruit of all was going to be watermelon, the joke’s on you. While it is certainly the most iconic fruit when it comes to pure hydration (watermelon water is even a thing now), there are a handful of competitors that manage to knock it down a few pegs. Chief among them is the unsung hero of the fruit kingdom, the humble tomato. That’s right, clocking in at more than 94% water content, tomatoes are officially the most hydrating fruit you can put into your body, which works out great in the summertime, as tomatoes end up in salads, atop burgers, and even eaten fresh with a drizzle of olive oil. Grapefruit and cantaloupe can both give watermelon a run for their money as well when it comes to hydration, but it’s safe to say that anything plucked from this bottom tier of the fruit hydration pyramid is going to help replenish you.