Food & Nutrition

Meet The New ‘Super’ Waters – But Are They Any Good?

Birch, maple, black, pond* – are all these crazy new waters the health elixirs they claim? (*made that last one up, soz)

What happened to good old tap water, eh? Nowadays every health food shop, supermarket and upmarket gym is aflood with the latest fashionable alternative to H20. But do these ‘super’ waters live up to their health claims, or are we wasting our hard-earned wonga on what is, essentially, pricey pop? We put four alternative waters to the test.

1. Birch water

Sibberi birch water
£2.49 for 250ml,

What is it?
Cold pressed tree sap, tapped directly from 30-year-old birch trees in Latvia as they wake from their winter slumber. (We’re not making this up!)

Maybe it’s our jaded palettes, but our office tasters likened this to watered down vodka

What are the claimed health benefits?
Popular in Scandinavia, birch water is naturally diuretic helping eliminate toxins from the body and giving a natural glow to the skin and the hair. It supports kidney and liver functions, and is isotonic and full of electrolytes, meaning it helps hydrate you quickly. It’s also a natural source of Xylitol, which is good for your teeth.

What does it taste like?
It’s certainly got an unusual tang. Maybe it’s our jaded palettes, but our office tasters likened the slightly sour taste to watered down vodka.

What does the dietitian say?
“I can see the appeal of something new and exciting, but the evidence for most of these new ‘super’ waters  is very weak,” says Rebecca Lawton a spokesperson for the British Dietetic Association. “They don’t really have any benefits that you wouldn’t see from eating a healthy, balanced diet.

“This water is a diuretic, which basically means it makes you pee more, but that’s not necessarily a good thing. It may make you look a bit less bloated but caffeine’s a diuretic and we don’t think of that as particularly healthy. Also, be wary of anything that claims to ‘detox’ your system – your liver and kidneys do this by themselves, your kidneys clean your blood and your liver will detoxify the food you eat.”

2. Blk. water

blk. water
£1.99-£2.49 for 500ml,

What is it?
Canadian spring water enhanced with fulvic acid, which turns the water naturally black. Yes, black!

What are the claimed health benefits?
We’d never heard of fulvic acid before, but apparently it’s a rare deposit found in ancient plant matter, which contains over 70 trace minerals. High in alkaline – which can be beneficial in neutralising the blood stream – and hydrating electrolytes, blk. is calorie-free and contains no sugars, caffeine or other nasties.

Once you get your head around the colour, this tastes like standard  mineral water

What does it taste like?
Once you get your head around the fact it looks like flat coke, this tastes just like your standard colourless mineral water.

What does the dietitian say?
“This water says it’s high in alkaline but our bodies keep themselves at a set PH level whatever we eat or drink. If our body was to become too acid or too alkaline it would be very dangerous, so our stomach acid regulates everything we consume.

“The reason alkaline diets have become so popular is that on paper they make sense, as they generally contain foods that are plant-based and nutritious so are naturally good for you. There’s really no need to worry about PH levels though, just aim to eat healthily.”

3. Maple water

£1.99 for 250ml,

What is it?
Pure maple sap straight from the tree.

It’s a good source of calcium and iron and has more manganese than a cup of kale

What are the claimed health benefits?
DRINKmaple contains 46 nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, polyphenols, antioxidants, hydrating electrolytes and prebiotics. It’s a good source of calcium and iron and has more healthy-bone-building manganese than a cup of kale. Despite being from the maple tree, it’s also low in sugar – around 50% lower than coconut water.

What does it taste like?
The makers recommend drinking this cool not cold – around 40 degrees – as this is the temperature it comes from the tree. No idea what temperature ours was but it was refreshing and tasted like very watered down maple syrup. Nice but sweet – not sure if we could drink a whole bottle. If  you have a sweet tooth though, you’ll love it.

What does the dietitian say?
“It’s interesting that this water is high in manganese but I’d need to see more research to know how beneficial this would be. Often the elements contained in drinks aren’t high enough to make a difference and having too much of a vitamin or mineral can be just as dangerous as too little.”

4. Coconut water

Innocent coconut water
£2.70 for 500ml,

What is it?
We’ve all heard of coconut water by now, it’s water from a coconut, obvs.

innocent coconut water gives you 26% of your daily potassium in one glass

What are the claimed health benefits?
You’ll often see yogis, celebs and sports lovers glugging down coconut water as the source of potassium it contains, alongside electrolytes, is supposed to be great for rehydrating. Made from the water of 2 ½ coconuts, innocent coconut water gives you 26% of your daily potassium in one glass.

What does it taste like?
Coconut water is a Marmite one, but this doesn’t have too strong a taste. It’s sweet but not too sweet so coconut water haters may find they can actually get away with it.

Look out for flavoured coconut waters, they’re often high in sugar or artificial sweeteners

What does the dietitian say?
“There are no studies to show that coconut water is any better for you than drinking a glass of water or milk – milk contains pretty much every vitamin and mineral you need. The only time you really need electrolytes is after endurance exercise and adding a bit of sugar and salt to normal water can provide this for a lot less cost.

“Look out for flavoured coconut waters as well, they’re often high in sugar or artificial sweeteners.”


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