Liver disease

There are several possible causes of liver disease, including excessive consumption of alcohol, birth defects, environmental toxins, malnutrition and even certain medications. Any activities that expose you to hepatitis, such as sexual activity and getting tattoos also increase your risk. Learn more about liver disease risk factors and causes with expert advice from Sharecare.


The liver, located on the upper-right side of the abdomen, is the largest internal organ of the human body. The main functions of the liver are to remove toxins and process food nutrients. Blood from the digestive system filters through the liver before travelling anywhere else in the body.

Fatty liver disease (steatosis) is the build-up of excess fat in the liver cells, and is a common liver complaint in Western countries. It affects about one in every 10 people. It is normal for the liver to contain some fat, but if fat accounts for more than 10 per cent of the liver’s weight, then you have fatty liver and you may develop more serious complications.

Fatty liver may cause no damage, but sometimes the excess fat leads to inflammation of the liver. This condition, called steatohepatitis, does cause liver damage. Sometimes, inflammation from a fatty liver is linked to alcohol abuse. This is known as alcoholic steatohepatitis. Otherwise, the condition is called non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, or NASH.

An inflamed liver may become scarred and hardened over time. This condition, called cirrhosis, is serious and often leads to liver failure. NASH is one of the top three leading causes of cirrhosis.

Causes of fatty liver disease

Eating excess calories causes fat to build up in the liver. When the liver does not process and break down fats as it normally should, too much fat will accumulate. People tend to develop fatty liver if they have certain other conditions, such as obesity, diabetes or high triglycerides.

Alcohol abuse, rapid weight loss and malnutrition may also lead to fatty liver. However, some people develop fatty liver even if they have none of these conditions.

Risk factors for fatty liver disease

Most, but not all fatty liver patients are middle-aged and overweight. The risk factors most commonly linked to fatty liver disease are:

  • overweight (body mass index of 25-30)
  • obesity (body mass index above 30)
  • diabetes
  • elevated triglyceride levels.

Metabolic syndrome and fatty liver disease

Many researchers now believe that metabolic syndrome – a cluster of disorders that increase the risk of diabetes, heart disease and stroke – plays an important role in the development of fatty liver.

Signs and symptoms of metabolic syndrome include:

  • obesity, particularly around the waist (abdominal obesity)
  • high blood pressure (hypertension)
  • one or more abnormal cholesterol levels — high levels of triglycerides, a type of blood fat, or low levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, the ’good’ cholesterol
  • resistance to insulin, a hormone that helps to regulate the amount of sugar in the blood.

Of these, insulin resistance may be the most important trigger of NASH. Because the condition can remain stable for many years, causing little harm, researchers have proposed that a ‘second hit’ to the liver, such as a bacterial infection or hormonal abnormality, may lead to cirrhosis.

How a liver becomes fatty

It is unclear how a liver becomes fatty. The fat may come from other parts of your body, or your liver may absorb an increased amount of fat from your intestine. Another possible explanation is that the liver loses its ability to change fat into a form that can be eliminated. However, the eating of fatty foods, by itself, doesn’t produce a fatty liver.

Symptoms of fatty liver disease

A fatty liver produces no symptoms on its own, so people often learn about their fatty liver when they have medical tests for other reasons. NASH can damage your liver for years or even decades without causing any symptoms. If the disease gets worse, you may experience fatigue, weight loss, abdominal discomfort, weakness and confusion.

Diagnosis of fatty liver disease

Your doctor may see something unusual in a blood test or notice that your liver is slightly enlarged during a routine check-up. These could be signs of a fatty liver. To make sure you don’t have another liver disease, your doctor may ask for more blood tests (including liver function tests), an ultrasound, a computed tomography (CT) scan or medical resonance imaging (an MRI).

If other diseases are ruled out, you may be diagnosed with NASH. The only way to know for sure is to get a liver biopsy. Your doctor will remove a sample of liver tissue with a needle and check it under a microscope.

Some questions to ask your doctor after diagnosis include:

  • What is the likely cause of my fatty liver?
  • Do I have NASH? If not, how likely am I to develop NASH?
  • Do I have cirrhosis? If not, how likely am I to develop cirrhosis?
  • Do I need to lose weight? How can I do so safely?
  • Should I be taking any medication to control my cholesterol and triglyceride levels?
  • What medications or other substances should I avoid to protect my liver?

Prevention and reversal of fatty liver disease

There are no medical or surgical treatments for fatty liver, but some steps may help prevent or reverse some of the damage.

In general, if you have fatty liver, and in particular if you have NASH, you should:

  • lose weight – safely. This usually means losing no more than half to one kilogram (one to two pounds) a week
  • lower your triglycerides through diet, medication or both
  • avoid alcohol
  • control your diabetes, if you have it
  • eat a balanced, healthy diet
  • increase your physical activity
  • get regular check-ups from a doctor who specialises in liver care.

Treatment for fatty liver disease

Fatty liver is currently the focus of intense research. Scientists are studying whether various medications can help reduce liver inflammation, including new diabetes medications that may help you even if you don’t have diabetes. These include metformin, pioglitazone, rosiglitazone and betaine.Another drug being investigated is orlistat (Xenical), a medication that blocks the absorption of some of the fat from your food. Early results indicate that orlistat may reduce the amount of fat in the liver.

Where to get help

  • Your doctor
  • A gastroenterologist

Things to remember

  • Fatty liver disease is a build-up of fats in the liver that can damage the organ and lead to serious complications.
  • Risk factors include obesity, a high-fat diet, high alcohol intake and diabetes mellitus.
  • In most cases, people with fatty liver disease are encouraged to modify their diets, take regular exercise and lose weight.


Nutrient-Rich Plants from the Sea

Kelp, or brown algae, is an anti-inflammatory, low-calorie food that contains high fiber and a wide range of trace elements such as iron, potassium, magnesium, calcium and iodine. It is also rich in vitamins and proteins, and low in fat.

Besides being an excellent source of nutrients, the presence of fucoxanthin, a pigment which gives brown seaweeds their characteristic color, may also boost the production of protein that helps to burn fat (1).

Early studies also indicate that a sulfated polysaccharide called fucan or fucoidan found mainly in kelps may exert anti-tumor (2), antiviral (3), anti-inflammatory (4) and anticoagulant (5) effects. It could even be a potential protective agent against the harmful effects of anticancer drugs (6), radiation (7) and neurological disorders (8) such as Alzheimer’s disease.

However, like land vegetables, kelps are also prone to contamination, and in this case, by waters polluted with heavy metals and industrial waste. So the same caution should be taken when you are buying sea vegetables. Whenever possible, choose certified organic kelps harvested from minimally polluted waters.

Now let us take a look at five species of sea vegetables that would add healthful varieties to your diet:


  • Kombu refers to not just one, but a few types of kelp from the Laminaria species. Some commonly used kombu are ma-kombu (Laminaria japonica) and naga-kombu (Laminaria longissima), each having its own unique taste. Kombu has been an integral part of Japanese cuisine since ancient times. It is mostly often used in soups to impart a subtleumami (savory) taste. This thick, long seaweed is also cut into thin strips, pickled and enjoyed as a side dish, or further processed to make kombu powder and kombu tea (not related to kombucha, a fermented drink). Dried individually packed kombu as well as processed kombu products can be found in supermarkets, Asian stores, health food stores…


  • Commonly found floating in miso soup, wakame (Undaria pinnatifida) is not as hard and thick as kombu, making it ideal for salads.Wakame is most popular in Korean where it is traditionally boiled in soup and served to recovering new mothers. It is also a Korean custom to eatmiyeok guk, as the wakame soup is called, on birthdays.Like other brown algae, wakame is high in dietary fiber, iodine, calcium, and fucoidan. Wakame also contains small amount of omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) which may be an important source of EPA for people who do not eat fish and other seafood.


  • Other than kombu, arame (Eisenia bicyclis) is another traditional food that has been a part of Japanese diet for centuries.In dried and cooked forms, arame looks like hijiki, a thin, black, twig-like seaweed. But arame actually tastes softer and milder than hijiki. This makes arame a good choice for those who find the taste of other seaweeds too strong for their liking.Besides using arame in soups and broths, you can also stuff it in pie and quiche in place of spinach, and stir fry it with other vegetables or slices of meat.

    Outside of Japan, is usually available in small dried leaves which soften and expand a few times their size after soaking in water.

Ecklonia Cavaseanol-powder

  • Ecklonia cava is not a common brown seaweed you can pick off the shelves. Beyond its places of origin, which are mainly Japan and Korea, it is usually only available in the form of dietary supplements. If you are lucky, you may be able to find dried Ecklonia cava, or known as noro kajime by the Japanese, in some Asian stores.Ecklonia cava is well-known for its high phlorotannin contents, which are actually a group of tannins that scientists are only beginning to understand in recent decades. In the laboratory, phlorotannins certainly look promising. Here is just a partial list of beneficial biological activities that phlorotannins are capable of: anti-inflammatory, antioxidative, anti-cancer, anti-diabetic, anti-HIV, anti-hypertensive, radioprotective and anti-allergic (9). But do note that these results have yet to be replicated in humans and they would need more in-depth research to prove their worth.Meanwhile, if you are eager to get some phlorotannins from your food, you can also find them in other species of brown algae such as arame (Eisenia bicyclis) and bladder wrack (Fucus vesiculosus).


  • Strictly speaking, dulse (Palmaria palmata) is not a kelp, but a red algae. But its excellent nutritional profile deserves mention.While lacking in fucan and fucoxanthin, dulse makes it up with higher levels of EPA. In fact, one study which compares seven different seaweeds revealed that dulse has the highest EPA content among them, accounting for 59% of its total fat content. Like kelps, dulse also contains all the trace elements needed by the human body, and is especially rich inpotassium. For this reason, those who are suffering from impaired kidney function should limit their intake of seaweeds, including dulse, to prevent mineral overdose.Harvested mainly in Ireland and Canada, freshly picked dulse is available in places where it is found. Elsewhere, dried dulse can be purchased inshort strips or flakes.

Note: Kelps are high in iodine and therefore, should not be consumed in large quantities by people who suffer from an overactive thyroid.

My top 20 Anti-Inflammatory Foods

Some of the best healing remedies to overcome inflammation also taste fabulous (I can’t say that about any prescription medications). Plus, foods won’t cause the nasty side effects common to most pain medications.

1. Kelp: seaweed

Anti-Inflammatory Agent: Kelp such as kombu contains fucoidan, a type of complex carbohydrate that is anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor and anti-oxidative.

A few studies on fucoidan in recent years have found promising results in using the brown algae extract to control liver and lung cancer and to promote collagen synthesis. The high fiber content of kelp also helps to induce fullness, slow fat absorption and promote weight loss. But whenever possible, get only organic kelps harvested from unpolluted sea.

Sidekicks: Need another good reason to re-visit your favorite Japanese restaurants? Besides kombu, wakame and arame are also good sources of fucoidan. A marine vegetable native to the Tongan Islands called limu moui is also a fucoidan powerhouse.

Arch-Enemy: Seaweed snack. Go easy on seaweed snacks as they can be heavily salted and coated with a thick layer of vegetable oil. Check the ingredients list before buying.

2. Cayenne Pepper: Ironically, cayenne pepper turns DOWN the heat on inflammation due to its powerful anti-inflammatory compound capsaicin.

Celery Seeds
Celery Seeds

3. Celery and

4. Celery Seeds: James Duke, Ph.D., author of The Green Pharmacy, found more than 20 anti-inflammatory compounds in celery and celery seeds in his research, including a substance called apigenin, which is powerful in its anti-inflammatory action.  Add celery seeds to soups, stews or as a salt substitute in many recipes.

5. Cherries: While many people opt for aspirin as their first course of action when they feel pain, Muraleedharan Nair, PhD, professor of natural products and chemistry at Michigan State University, found that tart cherry extract is ten times more effective than aspirin at relieving inflammation.


6. Dark Green Veggies: Veggies like kale and spinach contain high amounts of alkaline minerals like calcium and magnesium.  Both minerals help balance body chemistry to alleviate inflammation.

7. Fish: According to Dr. Alfred D. Steinberg, an arthritis expert at the National Institute of Health, fish oil acts directly on the immune system by suppressing 40 to 55 percent of the release of cytokines – compounds known to destroy joints and cause inflammation.

flax seed and flax seed oil
flax seed and flax seed oil

8. Flax seeds and Flax Oil: Flax seeds are high in natural oils that convert into hormone-like substances in the body to reduce inflammatory substances. Add ground flax seeds to smoothies, atop pancakes or French toast, and many other foods.  Do not heat.


Clinical studies suggest that flaxseed oil and other omega-3 fatty acids may be helpful in treating a variety of conditions.

High cholesterol

People who follow a Mediterranean diet tend to have an increased HDL, or “good” cholesterol level. The Mediterranean diet emphasizes fish and healthy fats, such as olive oil, and has a healthy balance between omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Whole grains, root and green vegetables, daily portions of fruit, fish and poultry, olive and canola oils, and ALA (from flaxseed, flaxseed oil, and walnuts) are also part of the Mediterranean diet. Red meat and saturated fats are not part of the diet.

However, whether taking flaxseed or flaxseed oil as a supplement can help lower cholesterol is up for debate. Some small studies show it has beneficial effects on cholesterol levels, but at least one double blind study found no evidence that it lowered cholesterol.

Heart disease

Eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts or legumes, and ALA rich foods may substantially reduce the recurrence of heart disease. One of the best ways to help prevent and treat heart disease is to eat a diet that is low in saturated and trans fat and rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (including omega-3 fatty acids from flaxseed and fish). Evidence suggests that people who eat an ALA rich diet are less likely to suffer a fatal heart attack. ALA may reduce heart disease risks through a variety of ways, including making platelets less “sticky,” reducing inflammation, promoting blood vessel health, and reducing risk of arrhythmia (irregular heart beat).

Several human studies also suggest that diets rich in omega-3 fatty acids (including ALA) may lower blood pressure.

However, it’s not clear whether taking flaxseed oil as a supplement would have the same effect on heart health.

Sjogren’s syndrome

Preliminary evidence that suggests taking 1 – 2 g of flaxseed per day can improve the symptoms of dry eye in people with Sjogren’s syndrome. Sjogren’s syndrome is an autoimmune condition where the immune system attacks glands in the body that produce moisture, like salivary and tear glands.


Studies suggest that flaxseed oil may help prevent the growth of breast tumors. In one Canadian Study, researchers discovered that flaxseed oil prevented breast tumor growth, likely through ALA content. Patients with breast cancer should not take any nutritional supplement without their doctor’s approval.

Dietary Sources

Flaxseed oil comes from the seed of the flax plant. It contains 50 – 60% omega-3 fatty acids in the form of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). That is more than is contained in fish oil, but the body is not very efficient at converting ALA into the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oils. So ALA from flaxseed may not have the same benefit as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) from fish oil.

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9. Ginger: Dr. Krishna C. Srivastava at Odense University in Denmark found that ginger was superior to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like Tylenol or Advil at alleviating inflammation.

10. Raspberries,

11. Blueberry: Blueberries are also excellent anti-inflammatory foods. They increase the amounts of compounds called heat-shock proteins that decrease as people age.  When heat-shock proteins are in short supply inflammation, pain and tissue damage is the result.

Anti-Inflammatory Agent: An antioxidant powerhouse, blueberry is high in phytonutrients that confer anti-inflammatory protection against many diseases such as cancer and dementia.

Sidekicks: Blackberries, cranberries, strawberries and raspberries. These berries are comparable alternatives to blueberries and are equally high in antioxidants. So start feasting on one type of berries each week.

Arch-Enemy: Berries with pesticides. Insects and fungi love berries as much as we do. So berries are often sprayed with pesticides to ward off diseases and pests. To make matter worse, it is hard to wash away pesticides from berries due to their size. So it is safer to opt for organic or wild crafted version as much as possible.

12. Blackberries, and

13. Strawberries: In Dr. Muraleedharan Nair’s later research she discovered that these berries have similar anti-inflammatory effects as cherries.


14. Turmeric: Research shows that the Indian spice frequently used in curries suppresses pain and inflammation through a similar mechanism as drugs like COX-1 and COX-2 inhibitors (without the harmful side effects) :

Anti-Inflammatory Agent: This Asian spice commonly found in pre-mixed curry powder contains a powerful, non-toxic compound called curcumin. Studies found that turmeric’s anti-inflammatory effects are on a par with potent drugs such as hydrocortisone and Motrin, but yet having none of their side effects.

Sidekicks: Ginger. This relative of turmeric is also highly prized around the world for its anti-inflammatory benefits, and are used to expel cold and relieve motion sickness and vomiting.

Arch-Enemy: Sugar. It can hardly be called a spice, but the widespread use of sugar rivals that of any spice and has led to a host of illnesses linked to this additive condiment. A diet high in sugar is decidedly inflammation-promoting and should be controlled.

15. Walnuts: Like flax seeds, raw, unsalted walnuts contain plentiful amounts of Omega 3 fatty acids that decrease pain and inflammation.

16. Green Tea:green_tea_cup_570

Anti-Inflammatory Agent: The flavonoids in green tea are potent natural anti-inflammatory compounds that have been shown in numerous studies to reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer.

Sidekicks: Water. What can be more cleansing for the body than zero contamination water?

Arch-Enemy: Processed cow’s milk. Non-organic milk carries antibiotics and growth hormone residues that can irritate immune system when they are consumed long-term. Many people, especially those in the East, also cannot digest milk properly, causing distress to the digestive tract.

See : Health Benefits of Green Tea

Sweet Potato

17. Sweet Potato:

Anti-Inflammatory Agent: Sweet potato is often overshadowed by other exotic vegetables and fruits. But it is also a good source of complex carbohydrate, beta-carotene, manganese, vitamin B6 and C as well as dietary fiber. Working in concert, these nutrients are powerful antioxidants that help to heal inflammation in the body.

Sidekicks: Spinach. This dark green leafy vegetable is such a rich source of anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative flavonoids and carotenoids that it is almost impossible to believe. But it is true. And here is only a partial list: Vitamin A, B2, B6, C, E, K, calcium, folate, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium and tryptophan. But be sure to buy organic ones whenever possible as it is also among the foods on which pesticide residues have been most frequently found.

Arch-Enemies: Processed potatoes. Although potato is a good source of vitamin C and other minerals, potato chips and french fries aren’t. Commercially processed potatoes are usually prepared in overheated polyunsaturated or hydrogenated oils, and are loaded with high amounts of sugar and salt, increasing the risk of heart disease, cancer and diabetes for anyone who munches on them.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Extra Virgin Olive Oil

18. Extra Virgin Olive Oil:

Anti-Inflammatory Agent: Virgin olive oil is Mediterranean’s secret to longevity. Its rich supply of polyphenols protects the heart and blood vessels from inflammation. The monounsaturated fats in olive oil are also turned into anti-inflammatory agents by the body that can lower occurrences of asthma and rheumatoid arthritis.

Sidekicks: Avocado oil. Also known as alligator pear, avocado produces oil that has a fat composition similar to olive oil, containing high heart-beneficial monounsaturated fats. But it has an even higher smoke point than olive oil, making it the ideal oil for cooking.

Arch-Enemy: Partially hydrogenated vegetable oil. This commercial oil contains trans-fatty acids that lowers the ‘good’ cholesterol and raises the ‘bad’ ones — a shortcut to contracting cardiovascular disease.

19. Shiitake Mushroom:

Shiitake Mushroom
Shiitake Mushroom

Anti-Inflammatory Agent: Enjoyed by the Chinese and the Japanese since ancient times, shiitake mushroom is revered for its immune-boosting properties and its mild smoky taste.

Sidekicks: Maitake, enoki, oyster mushrooms. There is no better way to fight cancer and enhance your health than to feast on a plate of stir-fried medicinal mushrooms. Yummy!

Arch-Enemy: Deep-fried mushrooms and vegetables. Throwing fresh mushrooms and vegetables into a big pot of boiling oil will not only soak up lots of cancer-causing compounds from the overheated oil, their healing powers will also be greatly diminished by the high temperature.

20. Papaya:images-fruits-papaya

Anti-Inflammatory Agent: Coined by Christopher Columbus as the ‘fruit of the angels’, papaya contains papain, a protein-digesting enzyme. Together with other nutrients such as vitamin C and E, papain helps to reduce inflammation, and improves digestion and healing from burns.

Sidekicks: Pineapple. A tropical fruit worthy of mention, pineapple contains bromelain, an enzyme that aids in the healing of indigestion, sports injury, trauma and other kinds of swelling. Extracts of bromelain have also proven to be as effective as some non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and are used in a number of natural anti-inflammatory supplements for arthritis.

Arch-Enemy: Preservative-laden fruits. Dried fruits can contain high levels of chemicals such as sulphur dioxide, a preservative which has been linked to increased respiratory disease. Eat fresh fruits whenever possible, but if you must opt for the dried form, make sure it is preservative-free.

Note: If you have allergic to the foods listed here, you must of course avoid them, no matter how nutrient-packed they may be. Consuming food that you are sensitive to will only cause more — not reduce — inflammation.

Adapted from Arthritis-Proof:  The Drug-Free Way to Beat Pain and Inflammation by Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD.


Read more: 

Top 10 Anti-Inflammatory Foods You’ve Got to Know

Boost your immunity and heal yourself with these tasty, natural anti-inflammatory foods…

The Benefits of Black Cumin Seeds

If you google black cumin, a ton of links come up for nigella seeds, which is not correct.  Both cumin and black cumin are from the parsley family, and black cumin is simply a darker-colored version of the traditional sort.  It looks a lot like caraway and has a slightly different, more milder flavor than traditional cumin.  Where cumin has a bit more earthiness and an almost gamey quality, black cumin is sweeter, delicate, with more of the pine-menthol flavors and even a nuttiness.  To me, it doesn’t linger as much on the palate as regular

Nigella Sativa (black seeds), an annual flowering plant that grows to 20-30cm tall, is native to Asia and the Middle East. The flowers of this plant are very delicate and pale colored and white.

The seeds are used in Middle Eastern cooking, such as in their local breads. The seeds are also used by thousands for their natural healing abilities.

Black Seed is considered to be the greatest healing herb of our time and it has been much neglected. It is being used to strengthen the immune system, fight and irradiate Prostate Cancer and other tumors, purify the blood and increase longevity. Black seed was found in King Tut’s tomb, proving the value of this herb to the Kings.

Nigella Sativa or black seeds was used by the ancient Romans in cooking and the Asian herbalist for many remedies, including migraines too.

The name Nigella Sativa comes from the Latin word, nigellus, meaning black. Nigella Sativa is small black seeds, with a slightly rough texture and it has an oily interior.

Rather than being ground to a powder form, black cumin is often left whole. It is generally very lightly toasted, which highlights that nutty flavor even more.

Black Seed Mechanisms of Actions

  • Anti-Tumor
  • Anti-bacterial
  • Anti-histamine
  • Strengthens the immune system
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Promotes lactation

Benefits of Nigella Sativa (black seeds)


  • Breast feeding (increase the flow of breast milk)
  • Cancer
  • Common cold symptoms and flu
  • Diabetes
  • Diarrhea
  • Dry Cough
  • Eye disease & impaired vision
  • Gall stones & kidney stones
  • Hypertension
  • Heart complaints & Constriction of Veins
  • Headache and Ear ache
  • Loss of Hair & premature Graying.
  • Vomiting
  • Worms
  • Toothache


One teaspoon of the oil in the morning mixed with honey, one hour before breakfast. If you choose to have the ground seeds, then 1 teaspoon of the seeds, twice a day. If you have a debilitating disease, such as cancer, then the dosage is double.

Preparation of the Ground Seeds

When you buy the ground seeds, they must be heated, as the taste is very bitter. Heat the seeds in a large skillet on low heat, stirring often, as they will burn. Keep tasting the seeds until they have a bland taste. After the seeds are bland, place them in a coffee grinder and grind. Traditionally, the seeds are mixed with honey and eaten that way.

15 Foods That Help You Stay 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 todrink 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.


CucumberWater content: 96.7 percent.

This summer veggie—which has the highest water content of any solid food—is perfect in salads, or sliced up and served with some hummus, says Keri Gans, RD, author of The Small Change Diet: 10 Steps to a Thinner and Healthier You and a consultant to Mindbloom, a technology company that makes life-improvement apps.

Want to pump up cucumber’s hydrating power even more? Try blending it with nonfat yogurt, mint, and ice cubes to make cucumber soup. “Soup is always hydrating, but you may not want to eat something hot in the summertime,” Gans says. “Chilled cucumber soup, on the other hand, is so refreshing and delicious any time of year.”

8 Refreshing Chilled Soups for Summer

Iceberg Lettuce

Iceberg LettuceWater content: 95.6 percent.

Iceberg lettuce tends to get a bad rap, nutrition-wise. Health experts often recommend shunning it in favor of darker greens like spinach or romaine lettuce, which contain higher amounts offiber and nutrients such as folate and vitamin K. It’s a different story when it comes to water content, though: Crispy iceberg has the highest of any lettuce, followed by butterhead, green leaf, and romaine varieties.

So when the temperature rises, pile iceberg onto sandwiches or use it as a bed for a healthy chicken salad. Even better: Ditch the tortillas and hamburger buns and use iceberg leaves as a wrap for tacos and burgers.

9 Healthy Chicken Salad Recipes


celery-stalkWater content: 95.4 percent.

That urban legend about celery having negative calories isn’t quite true, but it’s pretty close. Like all foods that are high in water, celery has very few calories—just 6 calories per stalk. And its one-two punch of fiber and water helps to fill you up and curb your appetite.

This lightweight veggie isn’t short on nutrition, however. Celery contains folate and vitamins A, C, and K. And thanks in part to its high water content, celery neutralizes stomach acid and is often recommended as a natural remedy for heartburn and acid reflux.

30 Foods Under 40 Calories


RadishesWater content: 95.3 percent.

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.

Superfood Secrets for a Long and Healthy Life


Tomato-2Water content: 94.5 percent.

Sliced and diced tomatoes will always be a mainstay of salads, sauces, and sandwiches, but don’t forget about sweet cherry and grape varieties, which make an excellent hydrating snack, Gans says. “They’re great to just pop in your mouth, maybe with some nuts or some low-sodium cheese,” she says. “You get this great explosion of flavor when you bite into them.”

Having friends over? Skewer grape tomatoes, basil leaves, and small chunks of mozzarella on toothpicks for a quick and easy appetizer.

20 Snacks That Burn Fat

Green Peppers

Green PeppersWater content: 93.9 percent.

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 percent 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.”

Colorful Produce For a More Nutritious You


cauliflowerWater content: 92.1 percent.

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!”

17 Superfoods That Fight Disease


free_watermelonWater content: 91.5 percent.

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.”


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