​​​​List of Foods That Cause Water Retention

Weight can fluctuate from day to day. 

Even on the same day, you might have a different weight in the morning than in the evening. 

While there are several reasons why this might happen, one of the biggest culprits is water retention. 

The human body is made up of 60-70% of water. 

Water plays a crucial role in the body since it aids digestion, nutrient absorption, transportation of nutrients, temperature regulation, and protection of organs and other essential tissue. 

However, there might be times when the body accumulates more water than usual. 

There are different factors that affect water retention, such as: 

  • Premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Hormonal changes can affect how much water the body retains. 
  • Sitting for too long. Due to gravity, more blood can accumulate in your legs, increasing water retention. 
  • Dietary choices. As we are going to see later in the article, foods high in sodium and other processed foods can lead to water retention. 
  • Certain medications. Some medications can increase the risk of water retention. 
  • Medical condition. There are some medical conditions that affect how much water the body accumulates. 
  • Flying in an airplane. Sitting for too long and changes in pressure can affect water retention. 

In this article, we’ll go over a list of foods that cause water retention that you should avoid. In addition, we’ll dig into those foods you actually want to include since they help reduce and prevent water retention. 

3 Foods That Make You Retain Water

Certain foods can make you retain water. Here is a list of foods you want to avoid that can cause water retention:

1) Processed Foods

Processed foods are high in additives, which in most cases have a high sodium content. 

The body needs a certain amount of sodium. However, when there is too much sodium, it starts retaining water as a way of diluting the excess sodium. 

Here is a list of the processed foods you want to avoid to prevent water retention:

  1. Canned soups, stews, and chili
  2. Packaged noodles
  3. Processed cheese
  4. Frozen meals
  5. Sausages and cured meats (ham, salami, bacon, and other lunch meats)
  6. Cookies and pastries
  7. Canned vegetables
  8. Pretzels, crackers, and chips
  9. Salted nuts
  10. Olives
  11. Salted popcorn

2) Alcohol 

Alcohol is commonly known to have diuretic effects. So how can it possibly cause water retention? 

Since alcohol is a diuretic, it makes you go to the bathroom more often. And, if you are not careful, it can cause dehydration. 

As a result, it can lead to electrolyte disbalances which can lead to water retention. 

And, if you combine it with simple carbs (like sugars), it can be a killer combo for water retention. 

Here are some options you might want to avoid: 

  1. Beer
  2. Wine
  3. Rum
  4. Gin
  5. Cocktails 

3) Refined Carbs

Just like salt, high-carb foods make you retain water, especially refined or simple carbs. In fact, for every gram of carb you eat, water retains three to four grams of water to help store energy (glycogen). That is why you are probably a couple of pounds heavier after a heavy meal of carbs. 

High carbs foods you might want to avoid to prevent water retention include:

  1. Sugar
  2. Sweets
  3. White pasta
  4. White rice
  5. Candy
  6. Cookies
  7. Chocolate
  8. Ice cream
  9. Cake
  10. Fruit juice
  11. Soda and other sugary drinks 

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6 Foods To Eat To Stop Retaining Fluid

Now, what happens if you are retaining water? There are different foods that have diuretic effects and can help you release that excess water.  

Here are some of the best foods to include in your diet if you want to stop retaining water and prevent water fluctuations. 

1) High Potassium Foods

Potassium tends to counter the effects of sodium, making it a great mineral to add if you are having a high-sodium diet. 

In addition, it also helps regulate muscle contraction, balance hydration, and nerve impulse. 

Some foods high in potassium are: 

  1. Avocado
  2. Banana
  3. Spinach
  4. Orange 
  5. Sweet potato
  6. Navy beans
  7. Dried apricots 

2) High Magnesium Foods 

Magnesium is another essential mineral. In fact, it is so important that it is involved in over 300 enzymatic reactions. 

Evidence suggests that magnesium might have a positive effect on water retention, and it might also help reduce PMS symptoms. 

High magnesium foods include: 

  1. Dark chocolate
  2. Pumpkin seeds
  3. Chia seeds
  4. Cashews
  5. Peanuts
  6. Almonds 
  7. Legumes
  8. Tofu (make sure it is low in sodium)

3) Fennel Seeds

It seems that fennel seeds might have a diuretic effect, helping you reduce water retention. There are different ways to include fennel seeds. You can make fennel seed tea or use it to flavor your favorite meats. 

4) Celery 

An active compound in celery called butylphthalide seems to have strong diuretic properties. It helps stimulate urinary frequency, leading to less water retention. 

You can have celery as a healthy and crunchy snack with natural peanut butter or mix it with other greens to have a delicious green smoothie. 

5) Asparagus 

Asparagus contains an amino acid called asparagine which acts as a diuretic. As a result, it helps remove excess water in the body. 

So, next time you feel you are accumulating water, try grilling some asparagus. Just be careful about how much salt you add. 

6) Dandelion Tea

Finally, a popular option to help reduce water retention is dandelion tea. Evidence suggests that dandelion tea might increase urinary frequency.

Foods to eatFoods to avoid
High-potassium foodsProcessed foods
High-magnesium foodsAlcohol
Fennel seedsRefined carbohydrates
Dandelion tea


Water retention can be caused by several factors. While it can be greatly influenced by diet, it can also be caused by hormonal issues, certain medications, or how much time you spend sitting. 

There is a list of foods that can cause water retention, such as processed foods, alcohol, and refined carbs. Instead, choose diuretic foods, such as asparagus, celery, fennel seeds, high magnesium and potassium foods, and dandelion tea. 

Finally, remember that there are other things you can do to decrease the risk of water retention, such as having an adequate water intake and leading an active lifestyle.

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