Is Sparkling Water Healthy?

Saying that sparkling waters are popular is an understatement. Nearly 574 million gallons of sparkling water — $6.1 billion worth — were sold in the U.S. in 2016, the last full year of data, according to Beverage Marketing. And that figure was expected to reach 790 gallons and more than $8.5 million in 2017. Compare that to about 263 million gallons and $2.6 billion in 2011.

Bottled water (still and sparkling combined) overtook carbonated soft drinks as America’s favorite drink for the first time in 2016 — 12.8 billion gallons sold versus 12.4 billion, Beverage Marketing reported. The gap between the two increased even further in 2017. Clearly Americans are realizing that sugar filled soft drinks are unhealthy and are opting to get their bubbly drink fix somewhere else.

There are brands that were not even in existence a few years ago that are market leaders in the sparking water beverage segment. Brands such as Sparking Ice, La Croix, Klarbrunn and Perrier are big players, but there are so many private label brands out there now that it seems like everyone makes a sparkling beverage. Kroger, Walmart and Meijer all have their own brands. You can even make your own sparking water at home with products such as SodaStream.

While sparkling water has gained popularity, people don’t exactly know where carbonated water — also commonly called club soda, seltzer, seltzer water, soda water, fizzy water or mineral water — stands in regard to health.

If you are looking to find the most natural form of sparkling water, look for sparkling mineral water, which not only naturally contains minerals, but also can be naturally carbonated from gases that are naturally occurring in the water. However, not all sparkling mineral water is naturally sparkling, and some companies add carbon dioxide to make it even more bubbly. Minerals that are found in sparkling mineral water can include magnesium, sulfate, calcium and potassium…all of which have amazing health benefits. Examples of good sparkling mineral water brands are San Pellegrino, Gerolsteiner, Topo Chico and Perrier.

So are there any possible side effects to drinking sparkling water? Depends on the brand and type.

Some companies have put additives and sweeteners in their sparkling water. Flavored sparkling water provides soda drinkers with the fizz they love and comes in a range of fruit flavors. While most brands refuse to disclose exactly how their water is flavors, most just list “naturally flavors” on the ingredients label. La Croix’s website says they are sourcing their natural flavors from essential oils, which is what I would use if I were making flavored water at home. Be aware that there are some flavored waters that just add plain sugar or artificial sweeteners such as sucralose and acesulfame potassium to their water. Just read the label. Brands such as Propel Fitness Water and Vitamin water are usually loaded with artificial junk.

​Stay away from this stuff!

Some experts says the carbonation, over time can wear at the enamel on teeth and potentially contribute to tooth decay. The carbonic acid found in sparkling water lowers the pH of water, making it more acidic, and one of the things that causes dental erosion is the acid in food and beverages. Keep in mind that soda is a lot more acidic that sparking water. Also note that sparkling mineral water contains minerals that can actually offset some of the potential damage caused by the low pH.

All this being said, I would still put plain (distilled, filtered, spring and even tap) water ahead of sparkling water, but if you need your carbonation fix, it’s a good option.

The bottom line is that if you’re currently drinking regular or diet soda, you should switch immediately to drinking sparkling water. But you have to read the label. As long as the sparkling water doesn’t have any unhealthy additives, it beats out soda (“coke” if you are from the south and “pop” if you are from the north) every time.

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