Get access to everything we publish when you sign up for Outside+.
When you think of cacao, chocolate immediately comes to mind. But there’s a use for cacao that puts this well-known plant to work in a whole new way: cacao water.
Cacao water is a long way from chocolate. It’s hydrating, but it’s also nutrient-rich. And it has a whole lot more to offer than your usual store-bought sugary sports drink. Is cacao water worth trying? Here’s why this unique water is poised to become the next big trend.
What is cacao water?
Cacao water is almost as simple as it sounds. It’s water that’s made from parts of the cacao plant.
You’re probably already familiar with the cacao plant, the tree that’s responsible for everything for everything cocoa – like beans, powder and butter. Most cacao (and cocoa) products, particularly those used to create the chocolate you know and love, come from the cacao plant’s beans.
Cacao water, however, uses the rest of the plant. Specifically, it’s made from the cacao plant’s fruit. The white, fleshy fruit that surrounds cacao beans is usually thrown away for chocolate and cocoa production. Yet the water takes that fruit “meat” and turns it into a refreshing liquid you can drink.
What does cacao water taste like? Well, the final product doesn’t taste anything like chocolate. Instead, it’s more similar to a light lemonade. This water has a unique flavor that’s a little sweet and a little tangy – but all around it’s refreshing.
Cacao water is highly hydrating and antioxidant-rich
Cacao is one awesome plant. In fact, it’s a true superfood. It’s packed with nutrients and health benefits, and even when it’s used in sweet treats like dark chocolate, cacao is one of the most antioxidant-rich foods you’ll find. These antioxidants, which include highly beneficial flavonoids, are so prevalent in cacao and cacao-based foods like cacao nibs and chocolate that they outshine most other foods.
And all of those super healthy hallmarks are present in its water form too. Cacao water is equally rich in antioxidants – a single 10.5-ounce bottle of the water has an ORAC (or Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) of 11,830. That’s approximately twice the antioxidant activity you’d find in 100 grams of blueberries. So, with each sip of cacao water, you’re getting a wealth of free radical-fighting antioxidants.
There’s one extra perk: great hydration. Cacao water constraints natural electrolytes, which help hydrate you more effectively than plain water alone. It offers potassium and magnesium, two essential electrolytes that fuel essential tasks like repairing DNA, converting food into energy and fueling your muscles.
Thanks to these electrolytes, cacao water is a fantastic substitute for sugary electrolyte-rich sports drinks. Instead of fueling yourself with a whole lot of sugar, you can turn to cacao water after a workout and get all the electrolytes you need with nothing else added. While cacao water does include some natural sugars (about the same amount as coconut water), it’s nothing near the same natural and added sugar content of your typical sports drink.
It’s also eco-friendly
Along with its health perks, cacao water offers another fantastic benefit: it’s great for the environment.
Cacao water takes the waste created by the chocolate industry and turns it into a useful product. It’s almost like upcycling – cacao water is made from the unwanted “leftovers” that aren’t needed to make chocolate, giving would-be waste a whole new life.
It’s estimated that the chocolate industry wastes as much as 80 percent of the cacao plant’s fruit during the harvesting and production processes. Only the beans nestled inside the fruit are needed to make chocolate, so the rest of the plant gets tossed in the trash once those tiny pieces are extracted.
But cacao water can turn that waste into something highly useful (and refreshing). This beverage uses the meat of the fruit, reducing the amount of trash created. Once chocolate companies have extracted the seeds they need, creators can turn their leftovers into an entirely different product.
Cacao water is still quite new and isn’t widely available for sale just yet. Blue Stripes is the first cacao water creator to come to market with its own beverage. However, you’ll want to keep your eyes peeled for more choices in the future. As increasingly more companies try this trend, it’s likely to become more readily available.
Cacao water is the latest superfood trend you can try. But there are plenty of other ways to incorporate superfoods into your meals, and there are many unique foods you can try. Keep reading: