We’re all familiar with the mantra about drinking enough water. But sometimes you want to drink something other than plain water, but you don’t want soda. More like something in between; something refreshing and different–like plant waters.
Beverage makers have been working on this challenge, and the results thus far are interesting to say the least. The following is a list and short description of various plant waters. I have includes some brand names, but do not take this as an endorsement of any of the products. I will leave the taste testing up to you.
If you have tried any of the following plant waters or when you do, I’d love to hear your reactions. And two more things:
- Don’t be fooled by the term “water.” These plant waters are not calorie-free, and the amount of calories can vary between brands in the same category. Some of them are closer to juice than water.
- Be sure to use these plant waters as directed or talk to a knowledgeable healthcare provider, especially if you have diabetes and/or are taking medications.
Aloe vera water
The aloe vera plant you may have on your kitchen window sill for whenever you experience a cut or burn is also available in water or juice form. This native of sub-Saharan Africa can be processed to provide a colorless, slightly bitter and citrusy flavored water that provides dozens or more active components including vitamins, minerals, and amino acids (in fact, aloe vera contains 20 of the 22 amino acids people need).
Aloe vera water can be made either with the whole leaf or the inner fillet, which means only the gel inside the leaves is used. Some waters have gel-like aloe floating in them while others are entirely clear. It’s not uncommon for aloe vera water to have added ingredients, such as honey, wheatgrass, cane sugar, and fruit juices.
Since aloe vera has anti-inflammatory properties, some of this benefit can be present in the water. Aloe vera water may help with gastrointestinal problems, including heartburn and constipation.
Among the suppliers of aloe vera water are Lily of the Desert (certified organic), Alo, and George’s Always Active Aloe.
The artichoke water currently on the market is a mixture of whole artichoke, pandanus leaf, and mint sweetened with blue agave and monk fruit (brand name Arty). The producers of artichoke water say that because they use the entire artichoke, they capture all the nutritional goodness, which includes vitamins A, C, E, and B1, B2, B3, B6, and B9, along with fiber, sodium, potassium, calcium, iron, electrolytes, rutin, quercetin, gallic acid, and cynarin.
Artichoke water reportedly is good both cold and hot, and its taste changes depending on the temperature.
Water made from this grain is a healthful drink that can help treat digestive problems, such as nausea and constipation, or assist in the management of urinary tract infections. Drinking grain water is actually an ancient practice and is considered an herbal tea in many parts of the world.
One word of caution is that anyone who is gluten intolerance should avoid this beverage.
The best barley water is the one you can make yourself–and it’s a whole lot cheaper. All you need is ½ to 2/3 cups of hulled or pearled barley, 4 cups of water, and a pinch of salt. After you rinse the barley, simmer it in the salted water for about 15 minutes. Cool and place it in a blender and pulse for 30 seconds. Strain the liquid through a fine sieve, and you have barley water! Use the soaked barley to add to soups, stews, or cook it a little longer and enjoy as a hot cereal with cinnamon and fresh fruit. The most available barley water in the US is called Robinson’s from the UK.
Birch water is similar to maple water (see below), in that it is tapped from the tree in early spring. However, while maple water remains fresh after leaving the tree, birch water is typically flavored with ginger, lime, raspberry, and other natural flavors. Birch water contains a sugar alcohol called xylitol, which has been shown to prevent cavities.
Several birch water brands include Sealand Birk, Sibberi, and Byarozavik Birch Tree Water.
Cactus water is made from prickly pear (Opuntia ficus indica) concentrate, prickly pear extract, water, and some type of flavoring. A limited number of studies suggest that cactus water can help reduce symptoms of hangover (researchers used extract, not water), fight cancer (cell culture studies), and boost antioxidant levels. Whether cactus water will deliver any of these promises isn’t known, although one might bet on the hangover benefit above the others.
Some cactus water brands include True Nopal and Caliwater Cactus Water.
Coconut water is made from immature, green coconuts because the mature fruits release coconut milk, a high-calorie, high-fat, sweet beverage. Don’t expect coconut water to be a diet drink, however, because it does pack about 46 calories per 8-ounce cup.
At the same time, you can expect to get 3 grams of fiber, 0 grams of fat, 600 milligrams of potassium, 325 milligrams of sodium, 57 milligrams of calcium, and 60 milligrams of magnesium from your coconut refreshment. The presence of these nutrients makes coconut water a good choice as an electrolyte replacement drink.
Some makers of coconut water include Coco Libre, Naked Coconut Water, Vita Coco Pure Coconut Water, and Zico.
Pure maple water is the liquid that is released from the maple trees in early spring. Actually, maple water is nothing new; the Native Americans enjoyed it for centuries.
Maple water reportedly contains more than 40 nutrients, including vitamins, minerals (more manganese than one cup of kale), antioxidants, prebiotics, and polyphenols, and with half the sugar of coconut water (less than 5 grams per 8 ounces).
Brand names of maple water include maple., Vertical Water (non-GMO Verified), Seva, Wahta Pure Maple Water, and Happy Tree Maple Water.
Watermelon has such a high water content, producers don’t need to add any extra! This special treat is high in beta-carotene and potassium and refreshing to boot. Since watermelon is also a great source of citrulline (a precursor to arginine, an amino acid that supports blood vessel health), this water may be helpful for lowering blood pressure and improving erectile function. Although there are studies indicating that citrulline can be helpful for these purposes, it’s not clear whether drinking watermelon water will produce the same results.
Watermelon water brands include Hint Premium Watermelon Essence Water, Wtrmln Wtr (cold-pressed juice made with both pulp and rind), and Sundia.
This is not the end of the list of plant waters. Beverage manufacturers are always looking for the next great nutritional water to bring to market, so keep your eyes open!
You can find many websites explaining how you can make your own flavored water from various herbs, spices, fruits, and vegetables, including infused waters. So explore, enjoy, and relax with something other than just plain water and share your thoughts!
Cormio L et al. Oral L-citrulline supplementation improves erection hardness in men with mild erectile dysfunction. Urology 2011 Jan; 77(1): 119-22
Figueroa A et al. Effects of watermelon supplementation on arterial stiffness and wave reflection amplitude in postmenopausal women. Menopause 2013 May; 20(5): 573-77
Tesoriere L et al. Supplementation with cactus pear (Opuntia ficus indica) fruit decreases oxidative stress in healthy humans: a comparative study with vitamin C. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2004 Aug; 80(2): 391-95
Wiese J et al. Effect of Opuntia ficus indica on symptoms of alcohol hangover. Archives of Internal Medicine 2004 Jun 28; 164(12): 1334-40
Zou Da-ming et al. Cactus pear: a natural product in cancer chemoprevention. Nutrition Journal 2004; 4:25