Plant waters are making a splash

Soda sales have taken a nose dive in recent years as people are looking for beverages containing less sugar.  It looks like a possible new beverage fad and thirst quencher has arrived ready to take soda’s place– plant waters.  These beverages made from extracts of fruits, vegetables, grains, grasses, and various plant parts such as leaves and even rinds, are making a splash in the water world of drinks. 

The public is beginning to hear loud and clear that sugary beverages are unhealthy for us.  Individuals are passing up on sugar-laden drink concoctions and instead are looking for something with few if any calories, a distinctive taste and if the beverage says it promotes our health, that’s even better.  Plant waters meet all those criteria with the exception of actually having scientific proof of any health claims they may boast. 

One example of a plant-based drink that took the beverage world by storm was coconut water.  It is still going strong but it now has more competition than ever from other plant-based waters that are beginning to take root.  Whether these plant waters will be as wildly popular as coconut water has been is hard to predict. Keep in mind the following when deciding if plant waters are for you:

·They can be expensive since many are priced between $3 to $5 a bottle.

·Any health claims made on the labels such as easing arthritis, preventing cancer or heart disease, smoothing wrinkles, or getting rid of cellulite, are not backed up by scientific proof.

·Even though these beverages have fewer calories than sodas and other sugary drinks, the sweeteners used in some like agave and fruit concentrates, are still sugars that provide “empty” calories.

·To get the most nutritional value, it is always best to simply eat the actual plant the plant-based water comes from.

·Tap water is still the best beverage to consume throughout the day for hydration and the fact it is free. 

Here are some examples of plant waters you may be seeing at a grocery store near you:

·Artichoke water

Eating an actual artichoke is a healthy food.  Artichokes are good sources of vitamin C, iron, potassium, magnesium, and fiber.  The leaves of an artichoke are very rich in polyphenols, particularly cynarin, studied for its potential benefits for the liver. Do most of these compounds actually get into artichoke water?  Probably very little.  However, the beverage is sugar-free and calorie free.

·Bamboo water

The first two ingredients of bamboo water are water and sugar so if you are trying to avoid a beverage with sugar, bamboo water may not be for you.  Made with concentrated bamboo leaf extract, the company exclaims that it “has the powerful benefits of bamboo” without explaining what those benefits are. 

·Banana water

Sounds interesting and possibly refreshing but if you are looking for an “all-natural” beverage, banana water may not be for you.  Reading the label will tell you that some of the nutrients found within it have been added to it plus at least some of the flavor comes from added “banana flavor.”

Bananas are a very good source of potassium along with some other nutrients but the actual water made from them, will not be quite as nutritious as eating the actual fruit.

·Barley water

For thousands of years barley beverages have been used as traditional medicines around the world to treat everything from diarrhea and stomachaches to dehydration.  This water is typically made from cooking barley in water.  The company producing this water boasts of it improving skin complexion and promoting vitality which is always up for a matter of opinion.

·Cactus water

Made from the fruit of the prickly pear cactus, this beverage may actually have some potential benefits.  The water is promoted as being good for anti-aging and skin-revitalizing, and for cleansing and detoxifying the body.  It also claims to reduce eye puffiness, improve athletic performance and to even help hangovers. 

·Olive water

Is it possible to get the same health benefits from drinking olive water as you would consuming a Mediterranean diet?  This is what the company that sells this water is saying.  It states that a bottle of its “Mediterranean inspired” olive water made from the waste left behind when olives are pressed for its oil, provide the same amount of phytochemicals as olive oil but with only 20 calories and no fat. 

Again, at this time, there is no science to back up any of its health claims.  Also, if you are expecting olive water to taste like olives, you’ll be disappointed.  The flavors to choose from instead are apricot/coconut and ginger/lime.

·Watermelon water

This one does sound very refreshing and there does appear to be some solid evidence of health benefits from drinking it.  One study found that a company which makes watermelon water, contained vitamin C and potassium, along with lycopene and citrulline which was found to reduce post-exercise soreness when consumed before a workout.  Watermelon water also only contains natural sugar with no added sugar and could be a good beverage choice for anyone looking for a good alternative to plain water.