The new standards state that: "All patients should have access to fresh drinking water at all times, unless it contradicts clinical advice."
Mr Hunt also said that food and drink should be available at all times of the day - not just meal times.
Patients should also have the choice from a varied menu - including meals suitable for religious needs, he said.
Catering staff should also reduce the fat and salt content in food and introduce more fruit and vegetables.
Hospitals will be inspected to ensure that they are adhering to the guidance. Teams of inspectors, half of whom will be patients, will examine the taste, quality and temperature of food as well as the cleanliness of ward kitchens.