10 Terrific Natural Diuretics

Readily available foods, drinks, and some dietary supplements can help you get rid of unwanted water and sodium.

Natural diuretic foods and drinks stimulate your kidneys to produce more urine, unloading excessive fluid and salt. Although they vary greatly in effectiveness, these foods and drinks allow you to take in healthy nutrients rather than prescription medications (“water pills”).

You may be retaining too much fluid if there is swelling in the arms, hands, legs, or ankles, rapid weight gain, or increased waist size.

In conditions such as hypertension, liver failure, congestive heart failure, persistent swelling, and kidney disorders, it’s critical to get excessive fluid out of your body quickly. Diuretics (medications) are extremely efficient and fast-acting. Diuretic foods and drinks are not likely to produce such a dramatic effect. (https://universityhealthnews.com/daily/nutrition/diuretic-foods/).

There is no universally accepted “best” list of natural diuretic foods. Each person’s metabolism is different, and what works for one may not be effective for another. The 10 foods and drinks that follow were selected based on evidence, easy access, affordability, and taste.

  1. Water—Drink Water to Lose Water?

The answer is yes. Water is one of the best natural diuretic fluids. One of the functions of hydration is to get rid of waste products, and water does that. Too much water, especially in those with kidney disease, stresses the system. Not enough causes   symptoms of dehydration (thirst, fatigue, lightheadedness, dark urine). The goal is to maintain fluid balance.

  1. Caffeinated Coffee—Fast-Acting

The caffeine in coffee makes it perhaps the fastest-acting food or drink diuretic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says coffee can trigger the urge to urinate within a half-hour, which would normally be expected from a prescription diuretic. A single cup of coffee (47 milligrams of caffeine) won’t work. Two or three cups probably will. How much caffeine in coffee is too much? According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), more than 400 milligrams per day. (www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/spilling-beans-how-much-caffeine-too-much)

  1. Caffeinated Tea—Green or Black

Green tea contains about 29 mg of caffeine per cup, suggesting that it would take a lot to promote urination. But black tea has twice that amount or more and may have the same diuretic effect as coffee. Hibiscus tea has been promoted as a diuretic drink, but research is still inconclusive.

  1. Watermelon—91 Percent Water

Watermelon is near the top of every list of diuretic foods and not just because it’s 91 percent water. It has been associated with reduced inflammation and body fat, kidney and eye health, nerve regulation, lowered blood pressure, and cardiac function. That’s just the short list. Watermelon is nutrient-dense, with electrolytes to help off-load some of that unwanted fluid and salt, reaffirmed in a 2022 study published in Nutrients (https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/14/22/4883).

  1. Grapes—High Potassium, Low Sodium

Green and black grapes don’t appear on every “best natural diuretics” list, but perhaps they should be included. The combination of high potassium and low sodium flushes out excessive water. Grapes also contain antioxidants that contribute to heart and skin health. Bonus feature: grapes are tasty.

  1. Pineapples—Benefits, Risks

Pineapples may help those experiencing bloating. Although rich in folate, iron, magnesium, and vitamin B-6, pineapples are not for everyone. They contain the enzyme bromelain, which can interact with certain drugs and could cause an allergic response in some people. The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai says, ”Patients with kidney or liver disorders should avoid bromelain.” (www.mountsinai.org/health-library/supplement/bromelain) From NYU Langone Health: “Safety for those with kidney or liver disease has not been established.” (https://froemkelab.med.nyu.edu/surgery/content?ChunkIID=146651)

  1. Citrus Fruits—Toxin Purge

Oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruits clear out toxins and increase urine output. They are high in water content (87-91%) and potassium (1/2 cup of orange juice has 248mg of potassium). Lemon water/juice is one way to get its benefits without the strong acidic taste. All four fruits regulate fluid balance and reduce sporadic bloating.

  1. Celery—Soups, Salads, Sandwiches

Celery contains more water than watermelon (95% to 91%), but you’d have to eat a lot of it to have a noticeable effect. Including celery in soups, salads, and sandwich spreads adds another natural diuretic food. It also has calcium, magnesium, and potassium, and may help lower blood pressure.

  1. Asparagus—It’s the Asparagine

Asparagus is not the most popular vegetable, but it is a natural diuretic. According to the National Library of Medicine, asparagus contains the amino acid asparagine, which increases urination. It is fat- and cholesterol-free and provides multiple vitamins and minerals. Warning: Asparagus may cause urine to have a harmless sulfur-like odor.

  1. Cucumbers—Losing Water Weight

Cucumbers, which can be classified as vegetables or fruits, promote loss of water weight (bloating). In addition, a medium-size cucumber is low in calories (30) and contains potassium, magnesium, fiber, and vitamins A, C, and K.

Herbs and Supplements—Inconclusive Evidence

Herbs like parsley, dandelion leaves, ginger, juniper, butcher’s broom, and horsetail (the plant) might reduce fluid retention, but the evidence is not conclusive. Herbs are unregulated—no guidelines regarding dosage. Talk with your healthcare provider before adding herbs or supplements to your diet. Some may have adverse side effects or interfere with medications.

Practical Applications

If you are retaining excessive fluid or exhibiting suspicious symptoms, the foods and drinks suggested here are first-step, self-care treatment options. Committing to a healthier diet, limiting salt intake to 2300mg per day (according to the CDC), and exercising daily are non-food ways to lessen the need for diuretic aids.

If there is even the slightest concern that your condition is more serious, consult your doctor. The treatment may include something you already have in your kitchen or pantry.

As a service to our readers, University Health News offers a vast archive of free digital content. Please note the date published or last update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.

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Jim Brown, PhD

As a former college professor of health education, Jim Brown brings a unique perspective to health and medical writing. He has authored 14 books on health, medicine, fitness, and sports. … Read More

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