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What is a diuretic?

A diuretic is a substance that removes salt and water from the body by increasing urine production.

What are healthy, natural diuretics? 

Many substances act as natural diuretics, increasing the production of urine which facilitates the removal of water from the body. It may sound like diuretics are not healthy, but in some situations, they can be very healthy. For example, if you’re experiencing fluid retention because of a medication or medical condition, it would be beneficial for you to ingest a natural diuretic to encourage your body to pass unnecessary water. 

Some of these natural diuretics include:

  •   Nigella seeds
  •   Hibiscus
  •   Dandelion
  •   Ginger
  •   Parsley
  •   Caffeine

How do diuretics work?

There are several different types of diuretics available as medicines today. They are:

  •   Thiazide diuretics
  •   Loop diuretics
  •   Potassium-sparing diuretics

Thiazide diuretics relax our blood vessels, which has the dual benefit of reducing blood pressure while removing excess fluid from the body.

Loop diuretics act in a certain part of the kidney, making them a more effective diuretic for patients with kidney disease or heart failure.

Potassium-sparing diuretics prevent potassium loss in urine while increasing the amount of urine that’s passed through the body. They’re typically used in conjunction with other diuretic medications.

Is coffee a diuretic?

Since coffee contains around 95mg of caffeine per cup, it is considered a mild diuretic. However, unless it’s consumed in huge quantities (5 or more cups per day), the diuretic effect is canceled out by the water in the beverage itself. If you’re worried about the diuretic effects of coffee, stick to drinking less than 5 cups a day or opt for espresso, which has less caffeine per serving.   

Is tea a diuretic?

Like coffee, the caffeine in tea can act as a mild diuretic. However, since most types of tea have fairly low amounts of caffeine (33-38mg per cup), the risk of water loss due to tea consumption is minimal. You’d have to drink more than 8 cups of tea a day for there to be any real concern about dehydration as a result of the diuretic effects of this beverage.

Learn more about Diuretic:

Photo of Kristin Ricklefs-Johnson

Medically reviewed by:

Kristin Ricklefs-Johnson, Ph.D., RD

Kristin is an RDN who also earned her Ph.D. in Nutrition from Arizona State University with an emphasis on insulin resistance, lipid metabolism disorders, and obesity. She completed her post-doctoral fellowship at Mayo Clinic where she focused on nutrition-related proteomic and metabolic research. Her interests include understanding the exact mechanism of action of various genetic variations underlying individual predispositions to nutrition-related health outcomes. Her goal is to help all individuals prevent chronic diseases and achieve long, healthy lives through eating well.

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