Diuretics, commonly known as water pills, help remove excess water and salt from the body by increasing urine production. They usually come in pill form, but did you know there are some foods that are natural diuretics?
Natural diuretics include certain fruits, vegetables, herbs, and plants that provide the same benefits as diuretic medication, along with additional nutrients. Getting your fill of diuretics naturally is also a safer alternative to over-the-counter diuretic medications and carries a lower risk of potential side effects.
Diuretics are often used to address:
- High blood pressure
- Bloating associated with water retention
- Heart failure
- Certain kinds of kidney and liver diseases
We’ve listed nine naturally diuretic foods to benefit your body and add a dose of healthful color to your plate. Before loading up on diuretic foods, though, check with your doctor and/or a dietitian or nutritionist to make sure you’re making diet changes that are safe and align with your dietary needs.
Nine Naturally Diuretic Foods
Watermelon is about 92% water, making it an excellent natural hydrator. It’s also packed with nutrients, including vitamins A and C; potassium; and its diuretic secret power, L-citrulline. L-citrulline is an amino acid that increases nitric oxide production, which relaxes the blood vessels, restoring blood circulation and reducing water retention. The increase in blood flow also helps drain fluid from tissues.
Pineapple is the only major source of a digestive enzyme called bromelain. This enzyme helps the body reduce swelling, just like a diuretic, and prevent blood clots and tumor growth. Pineapple also contains high levels of potassium and fiber and relatively little sodium, which contributes to a reduced risk of hypertension for a healthy heart.
Lemons contain high amounts of vitamin C, potassium, folate, and citric acid as well as antioxidants called flavonoids, which help fight inflammation. Citric acid is a natural diuretic that helps reduce edema (fluid retention) and prevent kidney stones.
Watercress is a powerful superfood. This cruciferous vegetable contains vitamins A, C, E, and K; potassium; calcium; and magnesium – just to name a few! Adding watercress to your diet can help the body remove excess water and waste plus reduce water retention and bloating, thanks to its high water content (about 93%).
Many leafy greens – and watercress, especially – also contain dietary nitrates, which help lower blood pressure and reduce hypertension by dilating blood vessels in the body.
This popular veggie contains many essential vitamins and minerals, like folate, potassium, and vitamins A, C, and K. Asparagus contains asparagine, a compound that acts as a natural diuretic (and may make your urine smell, which is totally normal!). The antioxidant glutathione, also found in asparagus, is primarily known for its ability to detoxify the body and remove waste.
Hawthorn, a flowering tree within the rose family, and its tiny berries are some of the most powerful natural diuretics you can add to your diet. Hawthorn has a long history of treating conditions such as cardiovascular disease, kidney stones, and high blood pressure, in addition to digestive issues. This plant is consumed in numerous ways, including as a supplement, brewed as a tea, and with the berries eaten raw or used to make jam, desserts, or even wine.
Hawthorn contains flavonoids, compounds that help lower blood pressure by relaxing blood vessels and promoting good circulation. These bioactive compounds are what make hawthorn an efficient natural diuretic.
Even though most people think of a yellow weed when they hear its name, the dandelion flower is actually packed with nutrients. In fact, dandelion leaves act as a diuretic by increasing urine production in the body and reducing water retention.
8. Green tea
Green tea, or matcha, is particularly rich in caffeine, which has natural diuretic properties. Consuming one to three cups of green tea per day can increase your caffeine level enough to ramp up urine production and eliminate excess fluid. If you don’t usually drink green tea or matcha, it’s recommended to start slow rather than jumping straight to multiple cups a day.
Morning coffee is an essential part of the daily routine for many, and just as with green tea, the caffeine present in coffee provides natural diuretic abilities. According to recent research, caffeine increases the production of urine, which helps your body manage fluid and waste levels.
However, it’s important to note that natural diuretics like caffeine may increase the risk of dehydration due to loss of electrolytes and fluids. Caffeine causes the kidneys to increase urine production, which means the body needs to work harder to balance the levels of electrolytes (e.g., potassium and sodium). If you decide to use coffee as a natural diuretic, remember to stay hydrated and enjoy coffee in moderation to avoid potential side effects.
Benefits of Natural Diuretic Foods
Similar Effects as Diuretic Drugs
Natural diuretics often have the same impact as diuretic drugs, including preventing high blood pressure, edema, and bloating. Diuretics can also help remove excess water or toxins, which helps cleanse the body overall.
Increased Nutritional Value
Natural diuretics found in foods or drinks provide nutrients to benefit your health that wouldn’t normally be found in manufactured diuretic pills. Eating foods and drinking beverages with diuretic properties will help add color to your diet and provide an extra helping of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Safety and Minimal Risk of Side Effects
Natural diuretics provide a safer alternative to over-the-counter medications – and potentially allow you to reap the same benefits, without the negative side effects of a water pill. The most common side effects of taking diuretic medication include:
- Muscle cramps
- High blood sugar
- Unbalanced electrolyte (sodium, calcium, and potassium) levels
However, if you do experience discomfort when consuming natural diuretics, it may be that you have a food allergy or intolerance; speak with your doctor as soon as possible.
The bottom line
Overall, adding nutritious foods and drinks to your diet can lead to various benefits and positively affect your health and wellness. By including natural diuretic foods, you may be able to avoid having to take medical diuretics. However, any changes to your diet and lifestyle should be discussed with a medical professional and made according to your unique dietary and medical needs.
If you are cleared to make such changes in your diet and need additional support, ask a friend, loved one, or Health Coach to work with you to reach your wellness goals. The most important thing is to listen to your body and determine what changes will benefit you personally.