Prickly pear cactus

Cactus Health Benefits: Should You Drink Cactus Water?

Coconut water. Watermelon water. Birch water. Maple water. Seltzer water.

These days, it seems like everyone wants to be hydrated by anything and everything but plain old-fashioned still water. You can officially add cactus water to that ever-growing list, too.

But what, exactly, is cactus water and is it actually good for you? Will it be the new coconut water, or simply another passing fad? We explore everything you need to know about drinking cactus water.

What Is Cactus Water?

Cactus water—which is low in calories and rich in antioxidants (so long, inflammation)— is found in the pad of the plant, explains Laura Cipullo, a registered dietitian and author of Everyday Diabetes Cooking Meals for 1 or 2. However, the cactus water that we can drink “is water plus the puree of the prickly pear fruit.”

“Similar to all fruits and vegetables, the actual cactus plant contains vitamins, minerals and is a great source of fiber,” Cipullo adds. 

The drink itself, Cipullo notes, is a great source of magnesium and potassium (1) and is low in sodium, “which is typically found in repletion or sports drinks.” She also notes that “cactus water is lower in sugar (i.e., those pesky carbohydrates) than its competitor, coconut water.”

While cactus water drinkers have varied opinions on what it tastes like, it’s most commonly described as having a slightly berry taste.  

It should be noted that, like aloe water, the variation known as prickly pear water can also have a mild laxative effect or may cause nausea, she says. (“Consider diluting it or only having a small amount at a time,” Cipullo says.)  

Other Benefits of Cactus and Cactus Water

Cactus water doesn’t just make for a tasty and health-conscious beverage. Many beauty experts are advising consumers to add cactus water to their skincare routines, as the ingredient “contains a much higher concentration of electrolytes to hydrate the skin, and rich antioxidants that help prevent UV damage,” said Dr. Lily Talakoub, a board certified cosmetic and medical dermatologist, in an Elle magazine interview

The cactus plant, however, doesn’t just provide cactus waterit has plenty of other beneficial uses. Cipullo says that you can actually eat the prickly pear fruit raw, “or sauté the green pods for a source of fiber.” 

In addition, prickly pear fruit has been traditionally used in the management of diabetes, glaucoma, fatigue, liver conditions, and other health-related issues (2).

How Much Cactus Water Should You Drink?

As is the case with anything in your diet, you should drink cactus water in moderation, Cipullo says. Drinking beverages like cactus water or coconut water in excess can lead to overhydration, she warns.

You should also pay attention to labels, because some cactus water distributors add sugar and lemon juice, Cipullo points out. These additions (sugars and sugar substitutes) may wreak havoc on your gut, Cipullo says. “Super sweet foods tend to make people crave more sweet foods, [so] it may be best to find unsweetened cactus water.”

It’s also important to keep in mind that cactus water alone won’t necessarily make you healthier. Folks who may benefit most from cactus water are high-intensity exercisers, including those who participate in hot yoga. “Only those who sweat and workout more than an hour need to replete sodium and potassium,” Cipullo explains. 

Acai and Cactus Water Smoothie Bowl Recipe

If you’re looking to integrate cactus water into your diet and wellness routine, try True Nopal‘s recipe for a divinely delicious acai and cactus water smoothie bowl. Full of antioxidants, this heart-healthy smoothie bowl is the perfect way to start your morning and provide you with the energy your body needs.

INGREDIENTS:

INSTRUCTIONS:

Add True Nopal, banana, cherries, grapes, raspberries and acai powder into a blender. Blend until smooth and pour into a bowl. Top with your favorite fresh fruits, such as kiwi, strawberries, raspberries, pomegranate seeds, and blueberries. Grab a spoon, and enjoy!

 

What’s your favorite healthy water alternative? Let us know in the comments!

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