The good news: More and more Americans are turning away from sugary sodas. In 2016, the soda industry reported a sales decrease of 1.2 percent, falling for the 12th year in a row, according to a report by Reuters.
The continued fall of soda sales has been blamed on Americans choosing healthier drink options and political efforts to curb obesity trends. Drinking sugar-sweetened beverages (like soda) regularly is linked to an increased risk of weight gain, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cavities, and more, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Check out all the ways your body benefits when you eat less sugar.
As more people kick their soda habit, another side of the beverage industry is booming. Health markets now contain full aisles lined with bright, colorful drinks claiming to boost your nutrients, improve your digestion, and rehydrate you better than water.
It started innocently enough, with so-called antioxidant drinks like pomegranate juice. Then came coconut water, juice cleanses, and kombucha. Then there was melon water, charcoal water, and—finally—maple water.
Is Maple Water Really a Low-Sugar Drink?
Maple water is mostly water, but it’s been infused with pure sap from maple trees. It has half of the sugar of coconut water, so companies are pitching it as a natural, low-sugar, hydrating drink.
Switching from soda to maple water will definitely lower your intake of added sugars. A can of cola contains 39 grams of soda (ouch), while maple water tends to have between 7 to 14 grams of sugar per bottle. That’s a big reduction, and one that could definitely aid in your efforts to reduce added sugars.
That said, it’s not a big accomplishment to have less sugar than soda. The American Heart Association recommends keeping your added sugar intake below 25 grams a day, so a bottle of maple water with 14 grams of sugar is already half of your allowance. (Here are more surprising high-sugar foods.)
Maple water may have less sugar, but it’s still technically a sugar-sweetened beverage. And don’t fall for the trick that sugar from maple is better for you than refined white sugar. Sugar is sugar.
Is Maple Water Really Rich in Minerals?
Maple water also claims to be dripping with special minerals like calcium and iron. Both these minerals are essential for human health, and iron deficiency is one of the most common nutritional deficiencies in the United States, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND).
It’s true that maple sap does contain calcium and iron, but a bottle of maple water only has about 20 milligrams of calcium—just 2 percent of your recommended daily value. As for iron, it contains 0.35 milligrams, which is 1.9 percent of your daily value. In other words, a bottle of maple water probably won’t help your iron deficiency.
Is Maple Water Really a Prebiotic Drink?
Prebiotics are non-digestible components in food that promote the growth of good bacteria (i.e. probiotics) in your gut. Together, prebiotics and probiotics may help maintain a healthy gut flora and promote good digestion, especially for people with irritable bowel syndrome, according to AND.
It’s actually *true* that maple sap contains inulin, which is a type of prebiotic. That said, you’re better off eating prebiotics from whole plant foods, such as vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. These foods offer a variety of micronutrients, fiber, and prebiotics, which all work together to support your digestive and overall health. Here are more habits to support gut health.
Is Maple Water Really a Great Source of Manganese?
This one is totally true. Maple water does offer 50 percent of your daily value of manganese in one bottle. Sounds great, right?
Don’t get too sappy yet (pun intended). Manganese deficiency is rare. So rare, in fact, that experts have not actually set a required daily intake, and it’s often not even included on nutrition labels.
On average, adult men consume 2.3 milligrams of manganese per day, and women consume about 1.8 milligrams, and that seems to be sufficient. Most Americans get all the manganese they need from grains and vegetables. So you can skip the pricey maple water and be just fine.
Here’s the moral of the story: You don’t need fancy water to spruce up your health. If you like the taste, go ahead and drink it, but you’re not missing out on important health benefits if you don’t. The only hydration your body actually wants is plain old H20.