Can you picture the world in the 17th century when bottled water was as strange and as difficult to conceptualize as the concept of aliens in outer space? Fast forward to the 21st century and bottled water is the second most popular beverage around the world. The 21st century has also brought alongside different variations of water; it’s not just about water in a bottle but also the value of every ingredient in that water. Cactus water is a fairly new concept in this niche, but one that is gaining popularity quite fast. In case you are not up-to-speed, this article gives you seven convincing reasons why you should try cactus water.
Why Is It Important To Drink Water?
In today’s world, it is quite easy to see people walking around with fancy water bottles while others go the extra mile to choose water over carbonated drinks when an offer is made. Is this just trendy, or is there more to it?
Water is essential for life, and our bodies need it in the most natural form to function optimally. While other beverages may serve a similar function of rehydration, natural water is referred to because it contains beneficial minerals and does not add extra calories and sugar as similar beverages say coffee.
Our bodies are 60% water, and this water helps to carry nutrients, oxygen, and waste to where they should be. Water is necessary for digestion, circulation and maintaining body temperature.
What Is Cactus?
Cactus is a type of plant that is well adapted to desert-like conditions. Cactus plants are succulents, meaning that they can store water in their stems roots and leaves for a very long time even up to a year. The leaves of cactus plants are spine-like; this reduces the surface area for evaporation of water. The stems are fleshy and the flower which appears briefly and mostly at night are usually brightly coloured.
What Is Nopal Cactus?
Nopal cactus is a common type of cactus that is also known as the prickly pear cactus. Cactus water is made from Nopal cactus. Due to its water-absorbing properties, Nopal cactus is also used to harden jellies and candies.
What Is Cactus Water?
Cactus water is a super versatile concentrate that is extracted from the prickly pear cactus. It is low in calories and sugar and rich in minerals such as potassium.
Cactus water is also rich in betalains; cactus fruit contains 24 of the known betalains. Belatins add natural glow to the skin and reduce eye puffiness. It also has taurine which is a rich antioxidant. Taurine enhances athletic performance by increasing the body’s ability to carry and use oxygen.
Several commercial brands of cactus water are in the market currently. Some cactus water products are skincare topical products while the majority are beverages. When buying cactus water you need to ensure that it is made from fresh cactus fruit and not concentrate. Also, go through the ingredient list to ensure that all additives are natural and beneficial. Caliwater is one popular brand of cactus water that’s available for sale in Canada. True Nopal cactus water is another popular brand. The market for packaged cactus water is expected to grow at a CAGR of 25% in 2018-2022.
7 Benefits Of Cactus Water
1. Enticing berry taste makes it easier to hydrate
Who said taking water has to be dull and monotonous? Cactus water has a slight berry-like taste which lingers s on the taste buds. This makes it more palatable especially for those who dislike the natural taste of water. If you struggle to take water in its natural form, cactus water may serve as the ideal substitute with a taste that even coconut water cannot beat.
2. It is rich in minerals and vitamins
Cactus water is rich in potassium, magnesium, iron, and vitamin A and C. These essential minerals and vitamins are important for various functions in the body such as proper cell functioning, nerve function, fluid balance, energy metabolism, and prevention of disease.
3. Helps with diabetes
Cactus water is naturally low in calories and sugar. This can serve as a beverage substitute for diabetics on a controlled diet. Studies have also shown that nopal cactus interrupts the absorption of glucose and consequently reduces blood sugar levels. This is helpful in controlling diabetes.
4. Lowers bad cholesterol
Cactus water helps to lower bad cholesterol levels and in this way it offers cardio-protective benefits. In one study, people with inherited hypercholesterolemia who took edible pulp of cactus daily for four weeks following a recommended diet plan had a reduction in bad cholesterol levels.
The participants had a reduction in total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL or “bad”) cholesterol, and triglyceride levels. The levels of good cholesterol were unaffected.
5. Makes the skin glow
Cactus water is loaded with anti-aging compounds that work together to create glowing skin.
Electrolytes in cactus water are necessary to ensure that the skin remains constantly hydrated. Hydrated skin is elastic and less prone to fine lines and wrinkles.
Cactus water is loaded with betalains: it is the only fruit that contains all 24 known betalains which are powerful antioxidants. Antioxidants fight free radicals that may cause damage to the skin.
Taurine is another powerful antioxidant that is found in cactus water. All these compounds work together to reduce eye puffiness, fine lines, hanging skin, dry and itchy skin, and other visible signs of aging that may appear on the skin.
Apart from hydrating, cactus water can also be applied directly to the skin to improve the glow.
6. It has anti-inflammatory properties
Inflammation has been linked to the development of several chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
Cactus water offers significant anti-inflammatory benefits. As compared to drinking sugary beverages with empty calories, drinking cactus water will reduce the process of inflammation and this may have a positive impact on chronic disease.
7. It is good for hangovers
Betalains feature here again. These compounds reduce the symptoms of alcohol hangovers such as dry mouth and nausea. The anti-inflammatory effects in cactus are also beneficial for nursing hangovers.
How Much Cactus Water To Drink
“Eight glasses-of-water-a-day” was once the gold standard for optimum health, this however has been disputed by the medical community recently: inadequate scientific proof. Meanwhile, as we wait for the next gold standard, you should drink as much water as your thirst demands.
Ultimately you need to listen to your body for cues, drink water when you are thirsty and stop when the thirst is quenched. If you are getting headaches or other symptoms of dehydration it means that you need to amp your daily hydration. When it’s hot and your sweating you should increase your water intake as well.
Cactus water should not substitute your daily water requirements. However, it is helpful to incorporate cactus water into your hydration program to boost the therapeutic benefits of hydration.
When Not To Drink Cactus Water
There are not enough studies that have been done around cactus water.
For some people, cactus water may trigger diarrhea, nausea, increased stool volume and frequency, and abdominal fullness. As much as the side effects may not be severe, it is important to take cactus water in moderation and observe for any side effects. Should the negative effects persist, stop immediately and notify your healthcare provider.
Children and pregnant women should not take cactus water unless under the supervision of a doctor. If you are taking other drugs, inform your doctor before starting on cactus water.
Cactus Water vs. Coconut Water
Cactus water tastes better than coconut water. Apart from the taste, cactus water has fewer calories and is a better alternative for people watching their weight. In spite of the sweeter taste, cactus water also has less sugar. It appears that of the two, cactus water is the winner.
How to Make Cactus Water
Cactus water is easy to make at home, and definitely much cheaper and healthier than purchasing. It is made from the fruit of the prickly pear cactus that may be found in selective stores- Walmart usually has some.
This is how to make cactus water at home:
- Wash your cactus pears with warm water and vegetable cleaning soap.
- Place the fruits on a cutting board and slice into thin slices from top to bottom. You should have 4-6 slices per fruit.
- Place in a heating pan and add water 3/4-1inch above the fruits.
- Boil the fruit and water for 60 minutes or until the fruits are extra soft.
- Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool.
- Scoop the pulp and strain in a cheesecloth- collect whats strained in a jar.
- There you have your homemade cactus water, enjoy!
Cactus water has a number of benefits that you can benefit from. Incorporating this into your beverage/ rehydration menu will go a long way in improving your health and wellness.
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- NCBI: Betalains, Phenols and Antioxidant Capacity in Cactus Pear [Opuntia ficus-indica (L.) Mill.] Fruits from Apulia (South Italy) Genotypes. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4665470/
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