With a summer like this, chances are you’ve been sweating a little out there (or should we say “glowing”!) especially if all this sunshine has drawn you out to the beaches, the running, hiking and biking trails, and the parks. We all know how important it is to stay hydrated and water is definitely awesome for that. Drink lots of water! But sometimes it’s really nice to switch it up, and luckily these days there are so many options beyond fizzy drinks full of sugar. Many of these options have some impressive nutritional qualities of their own! Here’s a quick overview of a few plant-based, hydrating non-waters available out there. While they do all contain some sugars, the amount is much lower than you’ll find in any pop or juice.
Birch and Maple Waters
Birch and Maple water is essentially sap that hasn’t been boiled down into syrup. It can only be harvested a couple of weeks a year, when snows first thaw and the sap starts running, which in turn means it can really only be sustainably harvested. It doesn’t hurt the tree and in order to ensure a ‘crop’ for the following year, the trees have to be kept healthy year round. No deforestation involved! Birch water has been used as folk tonic and refreshing beverage for centuries, in countries like Russia, Latvia, Estonia, Finland, Lithuania, Belarus, Poland, Ukraine, France, Scotland and elsewhere in Northern Europe, as well as parts of Northern China. Birch sap contains 17 amino acids including glutamic acid,as well as minerals, enzymes, proteins, betulinic acid and betulin, antioxidants, and vitamins C and B, as well as saponin, which has been shown to control blood cholesterol levels and is good for the immune system. Maple water has a similar profile, and is also rich in electrolytes!
Seems logical, doesn’t it! This particular melon does, in fact, very easily translate into a drink that’s closer to water than to juice, while still offering a wealth of nutrients. Another nice thing about watermelon water, is it can be a way to make use of melons that don’t make the cosmetic cut for most grocery store shelves, i.e. ones that are funny shaped or “blemished.” (We’d like to take a moment here to advocate for Wonky Veg!) Watermelons contain naturally occurring potassium (a key electrolyte), L-citrulline, an amino acid, and lycopene, a carotenoid phytonutrient as well as a good dose of vitamin C. Also… Beyonce has invested in producing watermelon water. So you know it's a winner, right?
Long used to help heal and sooth skin, there’s growing recognition that Aloe may be as good for your insides as it is for your outside! One thought is that it may help calm an inflamed gut similar to the way it eases the effects of a sunburn. It's packed with vitamins, including B, C, and vitamin E, as well as folic acid, It has somewhere between 8-20 amino acids, with all 8 essential amino acids. It also has some fatty acids, in the form of plant sterols– HCL cholesterol (which lowers fats in the blood), campesterol, and B-sitosterol. All are helpful in reducing symptoms of allergies and acid indigestion. Plus, it's rich in antioxidants and aloe vera is an alkaline forming food!
Similar to may of the above, cactus water offers an array of vitamins, minerals and electrolytes in a lightly sweet tasting liquid. As far as its unique benefits, the prickly pear cactus fruit is the only fruit which contains all 24 known betalains—a rare class of particularly strong antioxidants. Beets, by way of contrast, only have 12!
If you have any further questions about any of these awesome beverages, please don't hesitate to ask our staff next time you're in the store. We'd be happy to talk to you about them!