15 Natural Diuretics to Try for Bloating


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Feeling puffy after enjoying a delicious-yet-salty meal, during times of hormonal fluctuations such as menstruation or menopause is no fun for anyone. Being bloated is a common complaint that happens to just about all of us at some point, but that doesn’t make it any easier to deal with.

Bloating occurs when the body holds on to excess water, whether that’s due to having a bit too much sodium, or from a medical condition that causes fluid retention, such as hypertension. There are a bunch of tactics you can employ to banish bloating (like ruling out food intolerances or giving yourself a belly massage), but one healthy quick fix is to eat foods that are natural diuretics.

What are diuretics?

“A diuretic basically helps the kidneys make more urine to flush out excess salt and water from the body. The end result is frequent trips to the bathroom to pee,” explains Sue-Ellen Anderson-Haynes, MS, RDN, founder of 360Girls&Women, LLC, and eventually a deflated belly.

 

Should you use a diuretic for weight loss?

It’s OK to try a natural diuretic to relieve temporary bloating, but don’t go overboard long-term. “Unfortunately, many people abuse diuretics because they believe it to be a magic ticket to weight loss — but this is often not sustainable, and long-term use without proper guidance from a healthcare professional can disrupt the body’s fluid and electrolyte balances if overused,” says Laura Iu, R.D., a certified intuitive eating counselor in New York City. This could possibly result in symptoms like dehydration, nausea or headache, adds Anderson-Haynes.

Weight loss, health and body image are complex subjects — before deciding to go on a diet, we invite you gain a broader perspective by reading our exploration into the hazards of diet culture.

Are natural diuretics safe?

Try to avoid an over-the-counter diuretic in pill form — not only are these easier to misuse, you’ll miss out on the other nutrients found in the natural kinds that help keep fluid levels steady. And take note: people with diabetes, kidney disease, heart failure or individuals who take a diuretic medication (say, for high blood pressure) should talk to their doctor about the amount of natural diuretics that’s safe to consume. “It’s always smart to consult your physician or a registered dietitian before modifying your diet with foods that could interact with medications you’re taking,” says Anderson-Haynes. “However, for most Americans without conflicting medical conditions, there’s unlikely to be a health risk from eating these types of foods in moderation, and they all fit into a healthy balanced diet.”


Best natural diuretics

Banana

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A ripe banana contains about 400mg of potassium, a mineral that functions as an electrolyte to play a starring role in fluid balancing within the body. “Potassium can help to offset the constriction of your blood vessels that make you feel bloated when you’ve had excess sodium,” says Jaclyn London, R.D., nutrition consultant, host of the podcast The Business of Wellness, and author of Dressing on the Side (& Other Diet Myths Debunked).


Avocado

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Even if yesterday’s taco night is the reason behind today’s bloating, one of the foods you may have enjoyed with your meal (extra guac, please!) could be the key to helping you recover from it. Avocado is a source of both potassium and magnesium, two nutrients that can produce a diuretic effect. “Magnesium plays a role because it affects how our muscles in the bladder and urinary tract function,” explains Iu.


Caffeinated Tea

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A cup of tea can be a natural diuretic — they key is to brew a variety that contains caffeine, such as black or green. “Caffeine is a well-known diuretic that can increase urine production by stimulating the kidneys and promoting fluid excretion,” Iu explains. Besides potentially helping with bloating, tea will also deliver a dose of good-for-you antioxidants.


Cantaloupe

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This sweet, juicy melon contains an amino acid called citrulline, which “may contribute to a diuretic effect,” says Iu. Citrulline is involved in our urea cycle, or the way our body gets rid of waste via our pee. Potassium is also present in all melons, including cantaloupe—and summertime is prime melon season, so load up now to take advantage of peak ripeness, flavor and nutrition.


Dandelion

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Everyone’s favorite (if you’re a kid) or most-hated (if you’re an adult in charge of lawn care!) weed is actually an edible and deliciously bitter leafy green that contains plant compounds that may produce a mild diuretic effect, says Iu, as well as potassium. There are plenty of other reasons to give this versatile veggie a shot—dandelion greens are also filled with antioxidants and vitamins such as A, B, C and D, as well as minerals like zinc and iron. Enjoy dandy leaves raw in a salad or sauteed as you would any other leafy green veggie.


Sweet Potato

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This root veggie is good for more than a hearty side. Sweet potatoes can have a mild diuretic effect thanks to their potassium and magnesium content. “It’s the shifting of water, sodium, potassium and chloride in the blood that produces a diuretic effect,” Anderson-Haynes explains. They’re also a good source of fiber, which may help you feel a bit lighter by keeping you regular.


Pineapple

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Dig into a bowl of pineapple for some diuretic power via potassium and magnesium. Some people may think that the bromelain in pineapple can help with bloating, but it’s only been shown to possibly assist with the type of swelling that stems from inflammation (so something like an injury, not water retention).


Beets

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Beets are a source of both potassium and magnesium, two powerful fluid eliminators—but there are so many other reasons to love this colorful, earthy root veggie! Beets (golden, red, baby) are filled with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that fight inflammation and support our heart, eyes, bones, immune system, and overall cellular health.


Brussels Sprouts

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This cruciferous veggie that looks like a mini cabbage may help flush excess sodium and fluid from your body because it’s a good source of potassium and also contains magnesium. Brussels sprouts also support good digestion thanks to their fiber content, and they provide other plant compounds that can help keep tabs on inflammation.

Remember: If your feet are always swollen or you’re regularly retaining water, a visit to your doctor is a good idea to check for an underlying medical condition.

Celery

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Celery seed has been studied for its potential to lower blood pressure (these are mostly animal studies thus far), likely via phytochemicals called phthalides that are thought to have a diuretic effect. But you don’t have to sprinkle this spice all over your meal (nor would you want to!) to reap its possible diuretic benefits—celery stalks also contain some level of phthalides, as well as potassium and a bit of magnesium.


Coffee

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If you feel like your morning cup o’ joe makes you really have to go, you’re not imagining it! The caffeine that you seek to wake up also acts as a diuretic (aka gives you the urge to pee, which flushes excess sodium and water), but it also stimulates the muscles in your colon, which is why you may also need to poop.


Oranges

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“Oranges can have a mild diuretic effect,” says Iu, likely because they’re bursting with potassium for fluid regulation (including reducing it when there’s too much!), plus a bit of magnesium to contribute to overall bladder and urinary health. Other citrus fruits such as grapefruit, limes and lemons also contain these two minerals, just in lesser amounts.


Spinach

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Popeye might have pounded spinach in the hopes of growing big muscles (and he wasn’t wrong, as a recent study suggests an association between nitrate-rich veggies such as spinach and improved muscle function), but it turns out that his favorite vegetable can also be a mild natural diuretic, Iu says. Spinach is a robust source of potassium and also contains some magnesium.


Parsley

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Think of this herb as more than a garnish or flavoring ingredient—parsley is actually packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, including potassium and a small amount of magnesium. “Herbs like parsley contain other compounds,” that may cause it to act as a mild diuretic, says Iu; studies suggest that other plant compounds may contribute to its diuretic effect by reducing substances in the kidneys that could lead to decreased urine output (the opposite of what we want!). You can use parsley leaves to brew a tea, or use it in larger quantities by making a pesto, adding it to an herb-forward salad or folding it into pasta alongside other greens.


Watermelon

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Watermelon is a refreshing way to hike hydration because of its more than 90% water content and the presence of fluid-balancing potassium, but it also contains a little magnesium a well as the amino acid citrulline, which plays a role in our body’s waste removal process.

Headshot of Alyssa Jung

Senior Editor

Alyssa is a senior editor for the Hearst Health Newsroom, where she has written research-backed health content for Prevention, Good Housekeeping and Woman’s Day since 2017. She has more than 13 years of reporting and editing experience and previously worked as research chief at Reader’s Digest, where she was responsible for the website’s health vertical as well as editing health content for the print magazine. She has also written for Chowhound, HealthiNation.com, Huffington Post and more.

Headshot of Stefani Sassos, M.S., R.D.N., C.S.O., C.D.N., NASM-CPT

Nutrition Lab Director

Stefani (she/her) is a registered dietitian, a NASM-certified personal trainer and the director of the Good Housekeeping Institute Nutrition Lab, where she handles all nutrition-related content, testing and evaluation. She holds a bachelor’s degree in nutritional sciences from Pennsylvania State University and a master’s degree in clinical nutrition from NYU. She is also Good Housekeeping’s on-staff fitness and exercise expert. Stefani is dedicated to providing readers with evidence-based content to encourage informed food choices and healthy living. She is an avid CrossFitter and a passionate home cook who loves spending time with her big fit Greek family.





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