Many of us turn to coconut water as a "water alternative" to quench our thirst. It's low in calories, rich in potassium, and fat and cholesterol free, but a new drink trend may soon outpace coconut water. The subtly sweet water — maple water — is making a big splash in the health market, with several brands arguing that the products' phytonutrients, minerals and antioxidants, plus amino and organic acids, make the water a healthy drink to add to your diet.

Scientific research on maple sap is limited, though a few studies have found it to be beneficial. One company banking on maple water's success, Sap on Tap, founded in 2015, believes maple water is just beginning to gain attention.

Read More: Coconut Milk Vs. Coconut Oil Vs. Coconut Water: 6 Facts And Myths About The Health Benefits

"Maple water is where coconut water was 10 years ago," Bruce Goria, VP of Marketing for Sap on Tap, told Medical Daily.

Sap only flows a couple of weeks a year. Night temperatures below freezing and daytime temperatures slightly warmer are ideal. "It's very temperature dependent," said Goria.

Typically, sap rises in certain trees, like maples and walnuts, in late winter and early spring. This year, Sap on Tap started to get their supply in February in the Catskills region of New York State due to the temperature fluctuations. It's important to get maple water when available since the trees only give about three gallons of sap per year.

Maple water is made up of 98 percent water and two percent sugar, though it depends which brand you buy. Sap on Tap has 36 calories in a bottle, and company reps claim it has two times the manganese as a cup of kale. 

A common misconception of maple water is that it's super sweet, like syrup. 

"It's vastly different than syrup. It takes 40 gallons of maple water to produce 1 gallon of syrup," Goria said.

The hydration drink may help with workout recovery, and maple sap has been shown to have several other health benefits, from improving our bone health to potentially boosting our immune system. However, the health improvements listed below apply to the particular types of sap that were tested in studies, and those drinking maple water from various brands wouldn't necessarily receive the same benefits. 

Boost Immune System

Maple sap may boost the immune system when it's being attacked. In a 2013 study, published in Molecular Medicine Reports, researchers examined the effects of sap from Acer okamotoanum — a species of maple found in Korea — on how it responded to a compound known to impair the immune system of mice, rats, and canines. The findings revealed maple sap stimulated the activity of neutrophils — immune cells — in all three animals. Moreover, the sap improved how reactive oxygen species — substances generated by enzymes — via oxidation, eliminated bacteria from the body.

Read More: Maple Syrup May Protect Brain From Alzheimer’s And Other Neurodegenerative Disease

Lower Blood Pressure

The Korean species of maple sap possesses high concentrations of calcium, potassium, and magnesium, which are higher than the levels found in plain water. Minerals in sap, like calcium and potassium, have been found to regulate blood pressure. In a 2012 study, published in Molecular Medicine Reports, researchers tested the effects of Korean maple sap by feeding hypertensive rats spring water with either 25 percent, 50 percent, or 100 percent maple sap. The researchers found rats who drank spring water with ,maple sap showed reduced blood pressure compared to rats only given spring water. Its blood pressure lowering ability is believed to be due to maple sap's concentration in potassium ions.

Improve Bone Health

The magnesium content in maple water helps promote bone strength. In a study, published in the British Journal of Nutrution, researchers tested the efficacy of Acer mono, a species of maple sap, also known as "bone-benefit-water" in Korea, by placing mice on low-calcium diets and adding various doses of this maple sap. Those given both 50 percent and 100 percent maple sap concentrations continued to have normal serum calcium levels, compared to the mice fed spring water only and 25 percent maple sap.

Moreover, in the latter group, thigh bone density and length were significantly reduced compared to the group with higher maple sap concentrations. The researchers agreed 50 percent sap solution could potentially limit osteoporosis-like symptoms induced by a low-calcium diet via calcium ion absorption.

Lessen Likelihood Or Severity Of Hangovers

Similar to the effects of coconut water, maple sap could potentially limit the severity of a hangover. A 2011 study in the International Journal of Molecular Medicine found sap reduced the blood concentrations of both alcohol and acetaldehyde — a toxic byproduct of alcohol metabolism — five hours later in rats fed concentrations of 25 percent, 50 percent, and 100 percent 30 minutes before drinking alcohol. In addition, the expression levels of liver alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) and aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) mRNA   — two liver enzymes used in alcohol metabolism — significantly increased in rats who were fed maple sap before drinking.

This findings suggest drinking maple sap before alcohol can boost the rate at which alcohol is metabolized in the body. Therefore, this could potentially reduce, or lessen the severity of a hangover.

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