Look, I’m as attached to coconut water as the next health nut, but there’s another drink gym-goers are throwing back after a workout, and the wellness set is snapping for their Instagram feeds: Cactus water. With less sugar and calories than coconut water, and many of the same health benefits, cactus water’s primed to reign in 2016.
Commonly made from the prickly pear cactus—a type of cacti that grows round, spiky fruit on its oval leaves—the juice is extracted from fruit and packaged in bottles for its sweet taste and myriad of benefits.
While it may seem a little bizarre (hydration, from a cactus!?), because of its arid natural environment, the plant actually stores a ton of water. The buzzy drink also name checks a host of healthy attributes—most notably, it’s a great source of electrolytes and minerals including potassium and magnesium, making it a popular hangover fix, particularly if you drink it before your cocktails. Useful.
Like the coconut variety, cactus water is also packed with powerful antioxidants that help with skin revitalization. Called belatains, this type of antioxidant is commonly found in beets, and can literally help make your skin glow, and reduce puffiness under eyes. And there’s a reason you’re noticing people swigging this stuff at the gym—it can help reduce inflammation that can be brought on by muscle fatigue and exercise. So if you’re looking for a post workout drink, this one’s a winner.
“Consumers are looking for low calorie, low sugar natural hydration with benefits,” explained Tom Zummo, the founder of one of America’s more popular cactus water brands, True Nopal. “The wonderful fruity taste and low-calorie and sugar content is converting many coconut water drinkers over.”
Specifically, a standard 11.2 fl. oz bottle of cactus water has about 35 calories, while the same amount of coconut water contains around 60 calories.