Tips and techniques

Foods that help reduce water retention

If you've ever woken up with a significantly puffier face following a big meal the night before, you might not been imagining it. It's possible you're retaining extra fluids.
Perfect potato saladAustralian Women's Weekly

Water or fluid retention, known by the technical name of edema, occurs in our bodies when there are extra fluids that have built up. It causes our body to swell, which is often seen in the face, hands, ankles and legs.

It can be caused by a variety of factors ranging from changes in blood pressure and congestion in the lymphatic system, to pregnancy and lack of physical activity (think: long-haul flights).

Water retention can also be brought on by a high intake of sodium, which causes the water to draw towards the extra salt in your body. So if you’re recently pigged out on a big serving on wedges and sweet chilli sauce (we’ve been there), you might be holding onto some extra liquid; causing a ‘puffy’ appearance.

Luckily, there’s a few foods which can help with preventing water retention, and reducing the impact if it strikes:

Whole nuts

Apart from being a great healthy work snack loaded with natural omega-3 fatty acids for a healthy brain, nuts are also full of magnesium, which has been linked to a reduction of water retention in women with premenstrual syndrome (PMS).

Certain nuts like walnuts also happen to be high in vitamin B6, which has also been linked to a reduction in PMS-related water retention.


These humble fruits are great for so much more than smoothies. They’re super high in potassium, a mineral that is able to decrease our sodium levels and increase urine production in the body. This’ll help flush out any extra salt hanging around the body, causing water to remain trapped.

Bananas are also high in vitamin B6, a mineral important for the formation of red blood cells and reducing water retention in women with PMS.

soy porridge with banana, whole seeds and almonds

Try adding more banana and whole nuts to this delicious soy porridge recipe.


Potatoes and sweet potatoes are a bit of life saver when it comes to reducing water retention. They’re high in vitamin B6 and potassium, two vital minerals that help reduce excess fluids in the body.

They’re also a great source of natural carbohydrates, proving energy and keeping you fuller for longer. Opt for ‘taters in place of refined carbs like processed sugars, white flour and pasta which can spike your blood sugar and insulin levels.

High insulin levels lead to your body retaining more salt in your kidneys, trapping excess water; so steer clear of refined carbs as much possible.


This wonderfully fragrant winter root vegetable is brilliant served shaved in salads or baked as part of dish of roast vegies to accompany your Sunday roast.

But apart from being delicious, fennel is a natural diuretic that can induce urine production in the body and get the extra salts and fluids flushed out of you much quicker.

roasted baby parsnips, fennel and potatoes

Potatoes and fennels are both great for water retention. Try them in this roasted baby parsnips, fennel and potatoes recipe.


Okay, this one isn’t technically a food, but despite what many people believe, drinking more water can actually reduce the impact of water retention in the body by helping flush the extra salt out.

Try to drink more water than you normally would if your ‘usual’ amount is being absorbed as extra fluids in your body.

Always consult with your GP or an acredited dietitian before changing your diet. If you’re concerned about water retention, speak with a health care professional.

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