Are Plant-based Waters a Good Investment?

Posted 03/18/2015 | By HealthCorps

Aloe, artichoke, maple, cactus are some of the newer offerings in the water category.  The simple rule of thumb when it comes to assessing whether a modified water drink is worthy of purchase is to decide if it’s worth the calories (usually not), if the ingredients are of value to your health (vitamin or electrolyte fortified), and if it in some way enhances your health (most don’t).

Maple water is made from sap that’s extracted directly from maple trees.  Some of the makers of this drink suggest it’s vitamin-rich, with anti-oxidants and minerals, specifically manganese.  With about 20 calories per serving (pay attention to serving size), one bottle a day is a reasonable indulgence.  Fruit slices in water (orange, lemon, lime) can substitute.

Artichoke water typically contains water squeezed from artichokes, plus a sweetener (often agave, monk fruit, or both).  It may contain trace amounts of certain vitamins, but certainly not enough to contribute significantly to your health.  Go ahead and buy it but the expense may just not justify choosing it over plain water.

Aloe water is trending strong, and typically contains aloe vera juice, some pulp from the aloe plant, plus a sweetener to make it more palatable.  It’s typically promoted as vitamin and mineral rich, and chock full of amino acids.  One brand had 32 grams of sugar per serving. 

Cactus water typically contains prickly pear cactus extract, plus sweeteners, water, and possibly lemon juice.  Claims associated with the drink include: electrolyte-rich, flavonoid and mineral rich (actually most have insignificant amounts), and offers a way to detox your body (no firm science on that).  One brand has about 32 calories per serving.  It’s not clear that any benefits make it a better choice than plain water.

-Amy Hendel, PA/HealthCoach

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