Staying focused and alert throughout the day can be a bit of a challenge. Getting a good night’s rest is crucial, but so is filling up on the right foods. By now you should be looking at food as fuel, not only for your muscles but for your mind and energy stores. As soon as hunger strikes your productivity dips. This is where Keren Gilbert, M.S., R.D., founder and president of Decision Nutrition, comes in. She’s identified 10 hydrophilic (that's a fancy way of saying “water-loving”) foods to keep you full well through 5 p.m.
By definition, hydrophilic foods hold onto water, and according to Gilbert, “consuming water absorbent foods helps detoxify the body.” One of the most well-known water-loving foods is chia seeds. They have the ability to hold up to 12 times their weight in water. Consuming chia seeds regularly can help keep you hydrated and help your body retain electrolytes.
An easy way to sneak the seeds into your diet: Try the freshly-squeezed Great Greens juice at Jamba Juice. It's a refreshing blend of apples, cucumber, spinach, chard, kale, lemon, and chia seeds.
Oatmeal is probably already a staple in your diet, but here's why you should keep it there: It's actually the perfect example of a hydrophilic food because you can actually see it gel as it cooks. Beyond its ability to fill you up, oatmeal also contains soluble fiber, protein, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, manganese, and iron. However, choose wisely. Gilbert warns that not all oats are created equally and notes that steel-cut oats will keep you fullest the longest.
Gilbert encourages everyone to have a hydrophilic food with every meal and snack. One that won't be hard to fit in? Pears. This delcious fruit contains a complex carbohydrate called pectin. Pectin acts as a detoxifier, a gastrointestinal tract regulator, and an immune system stimulant. "Because of their high pectin content, pears trump apples in the hydrophilic food category," says Gilbert. "And, like other hydrophilic foods, pears help with digestion, lowering cholesterol, and regulating the body’s absorption of sugar."
This grain has a high capacity to absorb water and also boasts around 6 grams of fiber per serving. Use it as a salad topper, side dish, or pasta substitute. It's also been known to help lower blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol.
"These mini cabbages contain enough soluble fiber to keep us full for hours," says Gilbert. "In addition, Brussels sprouts have a great detoxifying quality." Need an idea of how to prepare them? Try our simple roasted brussels sprouts recipe.
"All beans are high-hydrophilic foods, and kidney beans make the top 10 list for their high antioxidant value," says Gilbert. Kidney beans also contain 6 grams of fiber per half cup and also contain folate, which supports heart health.
Who doesn't love a nice juicy orange? They're packed with vitamin C, soluble fiber, and pectin. But don't peel away all of that white stuff. 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.
Agar is a gelling agent made from seaweed. It’s 80% soluble fiber and contains no calories, no carbs, no sugar, and no fat. "The best way to incorporate Agar into your diet is to make a pudding out of it for a snack," advises Gilbert. "Peanut butter agar pudding gives you a boost of protein as well as hydrophilic fiber."
Okra is a low-calorie vegetable that contains high levels of vitamins C, A, and B6; folate; calcium; iron; and magnesium. It’s also high in hydrophilic (soluble) fiber. “Hydrophilic fiber steadies blood sugar, diminishes cravings, helps to keep you full, maintains digestive health, and reduces LDL (bad) cholesterol,” says Gilbert. Oh, and its slimy consistency can easily be hidden in stews, soups and stir-fries.