Beware of Plant Waters When Dieting
When talking about plant waters, don’t let the word “water” fool you. Plant waters are not calorie-free, nor are they necessarily low in calories.
I’ve written several articles about water and weight, including how drinking water for weight loss is boring, how your plastic water bottle could make you fatter, and about how to enjoy super low-calorie infused water instead of soda. Now I’d like to explore the realm of plant waters, which are an interesting and refreshing alternative to water, but are not always a dieter’s friend.
Some plant waters provide a wealth of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients and minimum calories while others nearly resemble fruit juice and are high in calories. The number of calories and the nutritional content can vary considerably from product to product within the same plant water category, so be sure to read labels carefully before you make your purchase.
Plant waters are becoming a popular beverage, and the industry will likely be introducing new products to the market for a while. The following are a few of the plant waters already on shelves. (Note: Products named here are for information only; they are not an endorsement and there are additiional brands available.)
Aloe vera water
The aloe vera plant has dozens of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids served up in a slightly bitter water. To take the edge off the bitterness, some aloe vera water brands add fruit juice, honey, wheatgrass, or sugar. Your aloe vera water may be clear or have minute pieces of the gel from inside the leaves floating in it.
Examples: Alo Exposed Original, 60 calories in 8 oz; Aloe Gloe, 18 calories in 8 oz
Here’s a plant water you can easily make at home. Barley water is more than a beverage; it also can help relieve nausea, constipation, and urinary tract infections. Make your own by simmering 2/3 cups of pearled or hulled barley, 4 cups of water, and a pinch of salt for 15 minutes.
Allow the mixture to cool and then pulse in a blender for 30 seconds. Strain the liquid through a sieve and you’ve got barley water at about 55 calories per 8 ounces. You may want to chill it before drinking. You can use the leftover barley as a breakfast cereal (cook it a little longer) or in soups and stews.
An example of commercial barley water is Robinson’s, which provides about 90 calories per 7 oz
Birch tree water
Similar to maple water (see below), birch water is tapped from trees and is a great source of manganese and electrolytes. However, birch water does not have the same level of natural sweetness, so some brands are flavored with ginger, citrus, or other natural flavors before it is bottled for consumers. This plant water contains xylitol, a sugar alcohol that has been shown to prevent cavities.
Examples: Sapp, 10 calories per 10 ounces; Sibberi, 10 calories per 7 ounces; BelSeva (birch water with matcha green tea), 40 calories per 7 oz
The prickly pear (Opuntia ficus indica) is the source of cactus water. When you combine prickly pear concentrate and extract along with water and a bit of flavoring (cactus is a little bitter), you have a beverage rich in antioxidants.
Examples: True Nopal, 25 calories per 8 oz; Caliwater, 35 calories per 11.2 oz
Coconut water is made from green coconuts, before the mature fruits produce their high-fat, high-calorie coconut milk. You may turn to coconut water because of its good nutrient content; 8 ounces provides about 3 grams of fiber, 600 milligrams of potassium, 57 milligrams of calcium, and 60 milligrams of magnesium, all for 46 calories.
Examples: Zico Pure, 50 calories per 8.45 oz; Zico pineapple flavored, 80 calories per 16.9 oz; Naked Coconut Water, 90 calories per 16.9 oz
Native Americans have enjoyed maple water for centuries, but it’s new for many consumers. Maple water is tapped from the tree (note—no trees are reportedly harmed during this process) and the resulting water contains half the sugar of coconut water—about 5 grams per serving.
This plant water contains more than three dozen nutrients, and a quick review of the labels on several brands does show it is high in manganese and provides calcium, potassium, iron, and a variety of antioxidants, electrolytes, and more.
Examples: Trader Joe’s, 25 calories per 8 oz; DRINKMaple, 30 calories per 12 oz
Watermelon water captures the natural sweet goodness of this fruit along with beta-carotene and potassium. This plant water typically is made from both the pulp and the rind.
Since watermelon is one of the best sources of the amino acid citrulline (a precursor to arginine, an amino acid that benefits blood vessel health), there is some chatter about how watermelon water may help lower blood pressure. The jury is still out on that subject.
Example: WtrMln Wtr, 60 calories per 8 oz
Also Read: How barley helps with weight loss and diabetes
Apple cinnamon water, energy booster or waste of time?
Image courtesy of Pixabay