Move over, coconut water. There’s a new hydration sensation in town, and it comes from the last place you’d expect: the desert.
Cactus water has been gaining ground as a trendy health beverage. It has less sugar than coconut water, but is believed to provide a whole bunch of healthy benefits for our bodies.
But does cactus water really live up to the hype? Here’s what you need to know.
What Does Cactus Water Taste Like?
Let’s be honest: Cactus water may not sound all that appetizing at first. But it’s actually derived from the fruit of the prickly pear cactus plant. (Water is stored in these fruits to help the plant survive the harsh, dry climate of the desert.)
And when juiced, the fruit of a prickly pear cactus has a mellow, berry-like flavor. One cactus water company, Caliwater, describes the taste as “watermelon mixed with kiwi.”
What Are the Benefits of Drinking Cactus Water?
One of the biggest benefits of cactus water is that it contains taurine, an amino acid with antioxidant properties. According to research taurine has been shown to help lower blood pressure and support eye health, and research suggests taurine may also boost fat burning during workouts and improve performance during exercise.
Cactus water also provides some electrolytes, namely magnesium and potassium. Electrolytes are minerals that help keep the amount of water in our cells in check, and it’s important to replenish them after a long strenuous workout.
Coconut water also contains some electrolytes, but cactus water has fewer calories and less sugar. Coconut water has around 46 calories and 6 grams of sugar per cup; unsweetened cactus water has 19 calories and 4 grams of sugar per cup. (Some brands do have added sugar, though, so be sure to check the nutrition label.)
And cactus water also contains betalains — nitrogen-producing pigments found in a few foods that can help reduce inflammation and oxidative stress. Betalains are most commonly found in beets, but prickly pear fruit is one of the best edible sources.
Is Cactus Water Worth Drinking?
Cactus water may not be a miracle elixir, but it’s still worth a try — it contains some beneficial nutrients and can be helpful for replenishing electrolytes. And if you don’t love the taste of coconut water, you may prefer cactus water as a base for smoothies or mocktails.
Even better: Cactus water is available in grocery stores like Whole Foods and on Amazon, so you can easily find it among your other must-have health foods.