Because drinking standard tap water just isn’t exciting compared to electrolyte, coconut or maple varieties, companies have found a new way to help you hydrate by rolling out cactus water. Offered by manufacturers like Steaz and CaliWater, the beverage is made from the fruit of the prickly pear cactus. According to CaliWater, their product has less sugar and calories than the more popular coconut water, contains no added preservatives or colors and is not made from a genetically modified plant.

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The blend of cactus extract and puree, water, organic cane sugar and organic lemon juice supposedly cleanses and detoxes the body with a combination of electrolytes, vitamins, minerals and a rare antioxidant known as betalain, believed to prevent against some degenerative diseases. They also are good for the skin and can promote a healthy appearance.

So does drinking cactus water provide true health benefits or is this all just hype? According to a few health experts, it looks like there’s actually something to this cactus water business.

"The deal with cactus water is that it has taurine," L.A.-based dietitian Shira Lenchewski, told Elle magazine. "Taurine is an amino acid that is naturally made in the body. It functions as a really powerful antioxidant, so it helps to quench free radicals and [reverse] muscle tissue damage.” She also explains that it could help improve athletic performance by increasing the amount of time you can go before getting tired.

New York City-based dermatologist Dr. Judith Hellman, M.D., agrees with Lenchewski, telling Allure, "Cactus water made from prickly pear cactus has so many health benefits. It's chock-full of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that are anti-inflammatories and immune-system boosters."

In fact, the plant is popular in Mexican culture, writes WebMD, as it believed to lower blood sugar levels associated with type 2 diabetes. Additionally, it’s been used to treat high cholesterol, obesity, diarrhea and hangovers, though the website says it hasn’t been proven effective at treating anything other than diabetes and hangovers.

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Dr. Andrew Weil explores this topic on his blog, saying that he’s often recommended prickly pear extract for people who are diabetic or pre-diabetic. What’s more, it’s thought of as a hangover cure in Mexico, but the regional remedy was shown to be effective in a study from 2004. The team gave participants prickly pear extract about five hours before getting drunk off of five to seven alcoholic beverages. The drinkers had less hangover symptoms like nausea, dry mouth and lack of appetite compared to those who didn’t partake.

If you want to add prickly pear cactus to your diet, WebMD recommends consuming 100-500 grams of broiled stems each day for protection against diabetes. To ward off hangovers, the site advises taking 1600 IU of the extract five hours before your first drink.

See Also:

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Lemon Water In The Morning Myths Vs. Facts: The Hype Behind The Trend​