From Cactus Water to Bulletproof Coffee, Which ‘Wellness’ Drinks Are Actually Healthy?

You’re on your way to the grocery store checkout counter, dreading the price of your salad bar creation. Then, to your left, you spot a beacon of pastel colors, cursive fonts and sweet carbonation: the drink cooler. Before you know it, you’re buying a $6 coconut water, telling yourself it’ll give you the afternoon boost and rehydrated skin and muscle relaxation you’ve been seeking.

Sound familiar? Us, too. So we decided to get to the bottom of just how much boosting/rehydration/relaxation these drinks really provide. Dr. Daryl Gioffre, celebrity nutritionist and author of Get Off Your Acid, and Dr. Gabrielle Lyon, nutrition and weight management specialist, revealed which trendy drinks are living up to their promises—and which are just getting the best of our wallets.

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harmless harvest coconut water
Harmless Harvest

Harmless Harvest Coconut Water

There are a million coconut waters out there, so we checked in on the one that comes in a lovely shade of millennial pink. As it turns out, Harmless Harvest is Dr. Gioffre’s favorite variety of coconut water, and that cute hue is the reason why. The color occurs because this coco water is raw (yay!) rather than pasteurized, which would get rid of all the good minerals (like calcium and phosphorous). However, an eight-ounce bottle contains 30 grams of sugar. And, according to Dr. Lyon, “It’s better to eat your sugar than drink it.” Conclusion: It won’t kill you, but the sugar outweighs the nutritional benefits.

Wtrmln Wtr

Like Harmless Harvest, WTRMLN WTR is not pasteurized. It’s cold-pressed, which means that instead of using heat to remove the bad stuff (and inevitably the good stuff, too), this product maintains its nutrients. But even though it’s packed with electrolytes, Dr. Gioffre explains that its high sugar content, at 18 grams per bottle, detracts from its post-workout benefits. Unless you’re carving out space in your daily diet for all that sugar, you’re better off skipping this drink, saving a buck (or four) and eating your watermelon raw.

True Nopal Cactus Water

The prickly truth: “It’s pasteurized, so I’m not a fan,” says Gioffre. “Also, the ingredient label says ‘prickly pear concentrate,’ and I have a problem with anything that says concentrate. You don’t know what’s in it.” The nutritionist’s advice? Obey Mother Nature and leave those spiky guys alone.

hi ball energy sparkling water
Hi-Ball Energy

Hi-ball Sparkling Energy Waters

Calling all runners and Peloton addicts. This sparkling energy water has Dr. Lyon’s seal of approval. “Caffeine, ginseng and guarana are excellent for athletic activity,” she explains. “Plus, this drink has no carbs or sugar, just caffeine.” We’ll be stashing this in our workout bags from here on out.

Kor Vitality Shots

We’re going to be honest: Anything branded as a “shot” immediately makes us suspicious. But Dr. Gioffre swears by these. First, they’re cold-pressed, so ingredients are preserved and enzymes are active. Second, they use organic, locally sourced ingredients. And third, Dr. Gioffre calls these ingredients—turmeric, lemon juice and black pepper—the "Triple A" of health. They're anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and alkalizing. In other words, the energizing blend of ingredients works with the body instead of against it. Spin class, here we come.

Forager Protein Plant Shakes

Protein shakes really can be all they promise: meal replacements, workout recovery and satiating snacks. But not all protein drinks are created equal, and there are several problems with this one. “Protein is your most important nutrient,” Dr. Lyon tells us. “It is crucial to muscle, which is the organ of longevity. But with only 8 grams of protein, this one will leave you hungry.” Plus, the “natural flavor” is just secret code for “natural taste from unnatural ingredients.” Dr. Gioffre’s protein shake rec? Something like Alkamind, which is completely plant-based and has about 20 grams of protein, not to mention low fructose levels.

bulletrpoof butter coffee

Bulletproof Butter Coffee

Caffeine addiction is tough, but so are early mornings. So if you’re going to accept your addiction, consider butter coffee. “The butter fat helps your body metabolize caffeine more slowly, which creates steady, lasting energy in the body and avoids crashes. And the MCT and octane oil boost mental clarity,” says Gioffre. Still, before tossing it back every morning, consider the rest of your diet. “Nutrient balance is critical,” Lyon reminds us. “Unless you’re fat-adapted or on the keto diet, it’s not something you want to be using pre- or post-workout.”

mamma chia vitality chia juice
Mamma Chia

Mamma Chia Vitality Chia Juice

If you’re into lumpy beverages (no judgment), you’re in for good news. Lyon says chia seeds are a great source of omega and fiber. But again, the sneaky 14 grams of sugar in this drink are reason to be wary. Pass this one by, and instead add some chia seeds to your smoothie or overnight oats.

rebbl plant based elixirs turmeric golden milk

Rebbl Plant-based Elixirs: Turmeric Golden Milk

This bev is good for the body, the soul and the world (really). The ingredients are sourced organically and ethically—and part of the proceeds benefit charities that fight human trafficking. If that doesn’t sell you, then the healthy plant-based ingredients should. According to Gioffre, coconut milk and turmeric boost your joint health. “There’s a reason these traditional drinks are still around today: Because they work,” he says. Gold medal for golden milk.

Just Water

Confused about how to choose between, like, 39 different bottled water brands? When you just wanted…water? Well, this is literally Just Water. “This water comes the way nature intended it to," says Gioffre. "With natural minerals from the environment. This is the cleanest, purest and best form of water." Not to mention the packaging is plant-based and recyclable. Win-win-win.


Core ultra-purifies its water to hit a pH of 7.4, the neutral point between acidity and alkalinity. If you’ve long forgotten this high school chemistry lingo, we got you. Here’s Dr. Gioffre’s takeaway: “These minerals are the most powerful way to hydrate the body and neutralize harmful acid. I’m a big fan.”

woman holding a glass of tap water

Wait, Whatever Happened To Tap Water?

As it turns out, tap water can have contaminants from old pipes (womp-womp). But wait—purify your water (and throw a lemon slice into your reusable water bottle), and you’re armed with a nutrient-packed, environmentally friendly drink. Oh yeah, and this one is free.