Are Any of Those Trendy Plant Waters Legit?

We asked nutrition expert Julie Starr which beverages you should be drinking.


Plant waters, far as the eye can see

There was a time, not too long ago, when seltzer was considered “fancy” water. Now, even your corner store stocks the many, many beverages vying to become the next coconut water.

Plant waters seem like a logical complement to the juices so many of us religiously sip these days—but do they live up to their high-flying claims? We asked Julie Starr, a local nutrition specialist, which of these trendy beverages truly hold their water.

Coconut Water

The claim: The original health water is praised for its high electrolyte and potassium content, and its ability to rehydrate and rejuvenate the body.

Starr’s take: “The potassium, along with the electrolytes, does make for a great recovery drink after a good sweat session,” Starr says. “It does contain calories, though, so I wouldn’t recommend subbing coconut water in for regular water throughout the day.”

Maple Water

The claim: Aside from making you crave a stack of pancakes, maple water is said to contain manganese, calcium, plenty of nutrients, and acid that may ease athletic recovery.

Starr’s take: Though it does have some antioxidants and electrolytes, “there hasn’t been that much scientific research on benefits of maple water,” Starr says. “Most claims are based on the benefits of maple syrup.” Its sweet taste, however, may make maple water a good choice for those weaning off soda.

Chia Water

The claim: Chia water packages the nutrients of chia seeds—omega-3s, fiber, protein, vitamin A, calcium, et cetera—in a liquified, portable form.

Starr’s take: Starr praises chia seeds’ health benefits, but says to look at nutrition labels carefully. “In order to make chia water palatable, several other ingredients [including sugar] are often added,” she says.

Watermelon Water

The claim: It tastes like summer, is ultra-hydrating, helps with athletic recovery, and packs in major vitamin C, potassium, and lycopene.

Starr’s take: It is delicious, which gives watermelon water a big gold star, since coconut water is not for everyone,” Starr says, adding that it does provide a healthy dose of vitamins. Just like coconut water, however, she says to stay aware of the calorie count.

Birch Water

The claim: Maple water’s cousin is said to cleanse and detoxify the body, especially the kidneys and liver.

Starr’s take: Starr says it’s got some potassium and zinc, as well as the natural sugar alcohol xylitol. Still, “I wouldn’t recommend drinking too much of this since it can make some people have to run to the bathroom,” she says. “It seems very expensive for what it provides you.”

Cactus Water

The claim: Apparently, everything. Proponents say it’s got tons of electrolytes, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, and that it can cleanse and detoxify the body. Oh, and apparently it helps with hangovers.

Starr’s take: Cactus water tastes like a light berry water and contains unique antioxidants called betalains— these are anti-inflammatory, and help with skin,” Starr says. “Great to sip after a night out.”

Asparagus Water, et. al

The claim: Last year, when Whole Foods sold three stalks of asparagus floating in water for $6 a bottle, even it couldn’t rationalize the bizarre product.

Starr’s take: “Water with fruit, veggies, and/or herbs can be a delightful way to drink water for people that just don’t like to drink water,” Starr says. “Don’t get too crazy with this, though, and repeat Whole Foods’ mistake.”