The Truth About The Newest Drink Trend: Cactus Water

When you want to hydrate, you have a ton of available options. Anyone can quench their thirst by downing a simple glass of water, but there's also sports drinks, Pedialyte, coconut water, and milk or milk alternatives. If even those options have started to feel boring, you can now find another beverage on the market that guarantees to hydrate you: cactus water.

Like the name suggests, cactus water comes from extracting the juice of prickly pear cacti. The resulting liquid has an attractive pink color, per Healthline. While you may know it as a skincare ingredient, cactus water has recently entered the commercial beverage world, competing against drinks like aloe vera juice and coconut water. According to Bustle, the market for cactus water exceeded $16 million in 2019 and experts only expect this beverage's popularity to grow in the coming years. You might never expect this drink to hold a candle to other established beverages, but after examining what's inside a glass of cactus water, you might just find your new favorite way to rehydrate.

What are the ingredients of cactus water?

If you reach for a brand of cactus water, you can almost guarantee that the drink came from the juice of a prickly pear cactus, plus possibly a bit of sugar (via Healthline). A typical serving of the drink contains 19 calories, 4 grams of carbohydrates, 4% of a day's worth of magnesium, and 3% of the daily value of potassium. Depending on the brand of cactus water you buy, you might also anticipate getting a few more grams of sugar per serving, plus some alcohol if you opt for a spiked cactus water.

Prickly pears contain antioxidants, which means these nutrients also find their way into cactus water. According to Bustle, the drink also provides a boost of betalain pigments. These pigments, which are also found in beets, create the water's pink color. Some studies have shown that betalains have anti-inflammatory properties, which can help reduce swelling or soreness, making cactus water a great post-workout drink. If drinking cactus water already sounds tempting, you'll be glad to know the drink has many more potential health benefits that'll get you excited to rehydrate.

What are the benefits of cactus water?

If you love the idea of a super-hydrating drink that may help you stay healthy, make sure to stock up on cactus water. According to Healthline, the water's antioxidant content might help prevent cellular damage and cut down on any unnecessary inflammation. Some studies, like one in the Journal of Medicinal Food, have found that drinking cactus water helped heal "stress-induced" stomach ulcers in rats, thanks to the drink's betanin content. However, health officials need to run more tests before anyone can definitively say how this drink may affect ulcers in humans.

Other potential benefits of the drink include the potential to reduce liver damage caused by alcohol, reduce constipation, and even kill cancer cells. Trials that tested for these benefits used highly concentrated prickly pear extract, per Healthline. Since cactus water contains much less of this ingredient, you probably can't expect any of these dramatic health benefits. Scientists need to study the drink more, but it certainly has some positive potential.

Is cactus water safe to drink?

While cactus water presents a ton of health benefits, the drink can also create issues in certain individuals. According to Bustle, the beverage has the potential to cause nausea and gastrointestinal distress. These effects typically happen when consumers are new to drinking cactus water. Experts recommend introducing the drink to your system by mixing one part cactus water with two parts regular water and steadily decreasing the amount of added water until your body acclimates to the beverage.

Experts also note that cactus water can interfere with medications, just like grapefruit juice. It can also cause hypoglycemia in some. If you feel nervous about trying the drink, make sure to check the label to ensure the beverage doesn't contain any added sugar if you need to watch your blood sugar levels as well. With any luck, you can avoid these health pitfalls and enjoy a healthy, hydrating drink with a unique flavor and memorable color.

What are popular brands of cactus water?

If you want to get your hands on some cactus water, you currently only have a small handful of brands to choose from. Bustle reports that Pricklee, Caliwater, dezo, and True Nopal all sell the drink. Some of these brands serve straight cactus water, while others spike it with alcohol, so make sure to choose the right beverage for your needs.

If you choose to drink straight cactus water, you might notice that its flavor somewhat resembles coconut water. Both drinks come with a noticeable tang, but natural cactus water contains less sugar than coconut water. Caliwater co-owner Matt McKee told Elle that in his opinion, cactus water tastes like a watermelon mixed with a kiwi. He also noted that while some beverage fans consider coconut water an "acquired taste," cactus water features a smoother, mellow flavor that is much more accessible. If this drink sounds tempting, make sure to pick up a bottle on your next grocery run and with any luck, you might just discover your new favorite beverage.