Maple trees for health: The next big celebrity craze?

There’s a new reason to love nature, particularly maple trees, and it has everything to do with maple syrup. What is this latest craze? It’s…

Maple water could give coconut water a run for its money. (Shutterstock)

There’s a new reason to love nature, particularly maple trees, and it has everything to do with maple syrup. What is this latest craze? It’s called called Vertical Water, and it’s supposed to be the next beverage of choice for nutrition fanatics.

What is maple water, to be exact? According to Cornell University where the product originated, it’s the sugary sap that gets pulled from maple trees before the process of conversion to syrup. Maple sap is just water that has been filtered vertically up from the soil, through the roots and up the tree trunk, gathering a small amount of sugar and minerals as it progresses on its journey.

“The minerals occurring in highest concentrations include calcium, potassium and magnesium, and [the sap] is also an excellent source of manganese,” Michael Farrell, director of Cornell’s Uihlein Forest, said of the nutritious liquid. “I love drinking the sap – it’s absolutely delicious.”

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Maple water hasn’t hit the mass market just yet, but experts suspect it will be as big of a hit with celebrities as was coconut water, a beverage that took off in popularity after it was endorsed by Rihanna. According to a report from The Daily Mail, maple water may hold an appeal for celebrities like Naomi Campbell who love the flavor of maple syrup but not necessarily it’s calories.

Compared to coconut water, maple water has fewer calories–just 30 compared to twice that in standard coconut waters.

The product will be available to consumers starting April of 2014 and will be bottled as Vertical Water, Kiki Maple Water and Happy Tree Maple water, among others. Experts at Cornell suggest the new product will give forest owners a viable option for income that doesn’t involve cutting down their trees.

“Maple-walnut is a popular flavor in the Northeast, and New York sugar makers can be at the forefront in developing this new market opportunity that could add tremendous value to existing sugaring operations,” Farrell said in the Cornell statement.

Approximately only 1 percent of maple trees in New York State alone are tapped for their maple sap, demonstrating what a boon this new product may be for rural communities.

“Maple sap itself, it could go as big as coconut water quite easily. The potential is there and maybe even bigger,” said Keith Harris, CEO of KiKi Maple Sweet Water, to BEVNET.

Maple water will be the latest novelty water to hit store shelves, but it is not the first one to take on coconut water. Cactus water has also made its way into the market under the brand name Caliwater. Unlike maple water and coconut water, however, Caliwater is spring water that has been enriched with nutrients from the fruit of the prickly pear cactus.