Now that coconut water has enjoyed its ten minutes of fame, another wonder-drink is pushing its way into the nutritional spotlight: maple water. Similar to coconut water, maple water is being touted as a hydrating, electrolyte-packed alternative to sugary sports drinks. But it has some advantages over coconut water: maple water is naturally low in sugar and contains only 20 calories per serving compared to an average of 50 calories for the same serving size of coconut water. Maple water further one-ups coconut water by boasting 46 unique bioactive compounds, some of which have antioxidant properties.
So what is maple water, exactly? Crazily enough, this soon-to-be “it” drink isn’t really anything new; the indigenous people of North America have been drinking the stuff for centuries. Maple water is essentially another term for maple sap, the clear liquid that flows naturally through sugar maple trees (by comparison, maple syrup is ultra-concentrated maple sap that has been boiled down to 66 percent sugar, which is why it’s much sweeter). Unlike pinesap, which is stick and thick, maple sap is clear and fluid, containing about 96 to 96 percent water. When extracted from trees in its raw form, maple sap makes a subtly sweet, lightly flavored water beverage naturally rich in vitamins and minerals, including calcium, potassium and magnesium.
Taste-wise, maple water tastes nothing like coconut water—it’s subtly sweet with just the slightest, barely perceptible hint of maple flavor. For those who find the taste of coconut water aversive (which apparently an overwhelming number of people do, as evidenced by this comical and scathing indictment of the coconut water via the Huffington Post), maple water might be a more palatable solution. Another benefit of maple water? Because it can be locally sourced and bottled within the continental U.S., it has a significantly smaller carbon footprint than coconut water. Maple water is also a versatile cooking aid, an ideal ingredient for marinades, soups, ice creams, sorbets and cocktails.
Will maple water soon usurp its coconut counterpart as the hottest hangover elixir and post-workout drink? Only time will time. Previously only available in Canada, maple water is soon coming to grocery shelves near you, manufactured by brands such as Wahta, SEVA, Vertical, and DRINKmaple.