While there’s some debate as to whether coconut water is really the miracle beverage that marketers claim it is — especially for recreational physical activity — there’s no denying its large following. This rise in popularity has caused a slew of other plant waters to sprout. Which ones are worth a try? Here’s a look at the pros and cons of some of the latest alternatives.
1. Watermelon Water
WTRMLN WTR is dominating this space. If you have a hard time meeting your daily water intake, pure cold-pressed watermelon juice is a great alternative because watermelons are about 90% water but are exceedingly more flavorful (and fiber rich!) than plain water. It’s also high in vitamin C and vitamin A, contains more potassium than coconut water, and has the same amount of electrolytes. The downside is that it’s relatively high in sugar, which can cause a blood sugar spike. If you drink watermelon water, make sure you’re opting for a brand, like WTRMLN WTR, that doesn’t add sugar.
2. Aloe Water
We all know aloe for its skin-soothing properties, but it’s also a go-to natural remedy for upset stomachs. Aloe helps your body absorb nutrients and macronutrients, which boosts digestive health. Note, however, that it contains two compounds, emodin and aloin, which can have laxative properties if consumed in excess. Many find the taste and texture (think jelly) of aloe-based waters none too pleasing; if that’s you, checkout brands like Taste Nirvana that rely on combos — in this case, coconut water — to make aloe water more appealing.
3. Maple Water
If you’re looking to stay trim, maple water is a great option because it’s low in calories and sugar (half the sugar of coconut water). It’s also rich in vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals such as B vitamins, calcium, and manganese. The downside is that it has less electrolytes, like potassium, than coconut water. When it comes to physical activity, however, the importance of electrolytes may be overrated.
4. Cactus Water
Lower in calories and sugar than coconut water, cactus water contains omega-3 fatty acids, which help with weight management. It’s also got taurine, an amino acid that has been shown to improve athletic performance by increasing the body’s ability to transport and utilize oxygen — boosting your ability to perform for longer periods of time. Research also shows that cactus water can help mitigate your next-day hangover thanks to an antioxidant, betalains, as long as you drink it before consuming alcohol.
5. Artichoke Water
This plant-based water is made from the entire artichoke. It’s low in calories and has been shown to help with heartburn and nausea. Most brands add sugar to enhance its taste and the claims — that it can help detoxify and support the liver — have little scientific proof behind them.
6. Birch Water
Birch water has become popular because of its diuretic properties, which help stimulate the digestive system and fight water retention. Unfortunately many brands add flavoring, which can pack on sugar and calories. And most of the health claims don’t have much research to back them up.