The list of the 10 most hydrophilic foods compiled by registered dietitian and certified nutritionist Keren Gilbert also includes oatmeal, barley and pears.
With an overwhelming number of food choices, it can be a challenge to identify and select the healthiest, most beneficial foods to provide lasting fulfillment. Keren Gilbert, MS, RD, a registered dietitian and certified nutritionist, turns to hydrophilic foods, or water loving foods, for satisfying food decisions.
“Hydrophilic foods fill up with water, and in turn, they fill you up so you’ll feel more satisfied,” explains Gilbert, Founder and President of Decision Nutrition™, a nutrition consulting firm. “Hydrophilic foods are loaded with soluble fiber, an essential piece of the hunger puzzle, which keeps us feeling fuller longer, diminishes cravings and maintains digestive health. As a result, the top 10 hydrophilic foods help us feel and look better inside and out.”
Below is Gilbert’s top 10 hydrophilic food list:
- Chia Seeds: Chia seeds are an essential hydrophilic food as they have the capacity to absorb water up to 12 times its weight. Their ability to hold on to water also translates to maintaining hydration and retaining electrolytes in our bodies. In addition, the superfood is packed with omega-3s, antioxidants, fiber, iron, magnesium, calcium and potassium.
- Okra: This low-calorie vegetable is high in hydrophilic (soluble) fiber due to its great mucilage contact. Okra is high in vitamins C, A, and B6; folate; calcium; iron; and magnesium. Don’t shy away from the vegetable because of its slimy consistency, which can easily be hidden in stews, soups and stir-fries.
- Oatmeal: Oatmeal is a perfect example of a hydrophilic food as you can see the gelling experience while it’s cooking. The superfood is loaded with soluble fiber, protein, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, manganese and iron. Gilbert warns that not all oats are created equally and notes that steel-cut oats will keep you fullest the longest.
- Pears: Pears are filled with pectin, a complex carbohydrate found naturally in plant cell walls, acts as a detoxifier, a gastrointestinal tract regulator and an immune system stimulant. Because of their high pectin contents, pears trump apples in the hydrophilic food category. And, like other hydrophilic foods, pears help with digestion, lowering cholesterol and regulating the body’s absorption of sugar.
- Barley: This grain has a high capacity to absorb water, making it a great addition to the hydrophilic food list. Barley’s delicious nutty flavor and pasta-like texture is an ideal salad topper or side dish.
- Brussels Sprouts: These mini cabbages contain enough soluble fiber to keep us full for hours. In addition, Brussels sprouts have a great detoxifying quality.
- Kidney Beans: All beans are high-hydrophilic foods, and kidney beans make the top 10 list for their high antioxidant value. Include kidney beans in salads as a protein replacement that will keep you fuller longer.
- Chickpeas: Like kidney beans, chickpeas will keep you full for hours due to their high soluble fiber content. In addition, eating more beans is proven to decrease the risk of coronary disease.
- Oranges: Oranges are loaded with vitamin C, soluble fiber and pectin, making them a great between-meals snack. If oranges seem like a hassle to peel, worry not – Gilbert says the thick, white outer layer called the pith, contains a lot of pectin and vitamin C and is more than acceptable to eat. Oranges are also a source of phytochemicals, vitamin A, B-complex vitamins, potassium and calcium.
- Agar: Agar is a gelling agent made from seaweed. It’s 80 percent soluble fiber and contains no calories, no carbs, no sugar and no fat. This superfood reabsorbs glucose in the stomach, passes through the digestive system quickly and inhibits the body from retaining and storing excess fat.