Our bodies need water to survive and function. Although the “waters” below provide beneficial nutrients and unique tastes, most contain more calories and sugar than plain water. It’s best to view each as a supplement, versus a replacement, for H2O.
Cactus Water (12 fl. oz.): 11 calories, 2 g sugar
Cactus water is made from the prickly pear cactus fruit. Water, pureed pulp of the fruit, and cactus extract is combined to produce “cactus water”. The pulp contains various antioxidants, vitamin C, potassium, and the amino acids, taurine and proline. Keep in mind that because the puree is diluted with water, the nutritional concentrations and potential benefits won’t be the same as if you were eating the whole fruit. Cactus water has a watermelon-kiwi taste and adds a summery splash to your favorite cocktail concoctions.
Maple Water (12 fl. oz.): 30 calories, 5 g sugar
Maple sap flows from the roots of the sugar maple tree and upward through the trunk. The trees are tapped to extract fresh maple sap (aka maple water). Maple water labels highlight that the beverage has 50% of the recommended daily value of manganese. Manganese deficiency isn’t really that common though, since we consume most of what we need from food. Most health claims associated with maple water don’t yet have scientific support, but the unique flavor is absolutely worth a try.
Coconut Water (12 fl. oz.): 35 calories, 12 g sugar
Coconut water is the liquid found inside young coconuts (not to be confused with coconut milk). It’s loaded with electrolytes, especially sodium and potassium. We sweat electrolytes out during exercise, so coconut water is an effective rehydration beverage within 30 minutes after a high intensity session that last over an hour.
Watermelon Water (12 fl. oz.): 90 calories, 18 g sugar
Watermelon water is actually a juice! The only commercially available brand is made from cold pressing watermelon flesh, watermelon rind, and organic lemon. Potassium, citrulline, vitamin C, and lycopene are the key nutrients that make watermelon water another good option for exercise recovery.
Infused Water (12 fl. oz.): 0 calories, 0-1 g sugar
Infused waters are probably the most cost effective water in the clan (DIY) with a nearly identical nutrition profile to plain water. Any fruit plus herb infusions are hard to go wrong with, but if you prefer recipes, check out these thirst quenching combos.
Chickpea Water (1 Tbsp): 3-5 calories
Chickpea water also goes by “aquafaba”. It’s the liquid that you usually drain after cooking chickpeas. Aquafaba serves as a substitute for eggs, in everything from mayonnaise to meringues. This is awesome news for vegans and for reducing food waste, but aside from about 3-5 calories per tablespoon, there isn’t much nutritional value to aquafaba that we know of.
The concept of these “waters” is exciting: from the potential to reduce food waste to the exposure of new flavors from unique plants. Just always remember that no sole food or drink is a cure all without an overall balanced diet, proper hydration, and regular physical activity.