In the past few years, sparkling water has become more and more popular. According to a report from Grand View Research that came out in April 2021, the industry is now worth nearly $30 billion and is expected to grow by more than 12% per year until 2028.
One reason for this boom is that health-conscious people are drinking sparkling water instead of carbonated sodas and juices because it doesn’t have any sugar. Leah Kaufman, RD, a nutrition consultant in New York City, says, “It’s a great drink to try if you want to give up soda or drink less of it.” “The bubbles make it feel like you’re drinking soda.”
You can also stay hydrated with these bubbly drinks, which is important because most Americans don’t drink enough water. A study in BMC Public Health found that the average American adult drank just a little more than four cups of water every day. There is no official rule for how much water you should drink each day, but the Mayo Clinic says that men should drink 15 and a half cups of fluids per day and women should drink 11 and a half cups. About 20% of the fluids you drink should come from food. Kaufman says that sparkling water is a more appealing drink for many people who are trying to drink more water.
But is it really as healthy as it seems to be? What you need to know is listed below.
What is the Sparkling Water?
Kaufman says that sparkling water is usually just water with carbon dioxide added under pressure. It might sound fancy. It can also be called seltzer.
Other types of carbonated water, like sparkling mineral water, club soda, and tonic water, are all similar to seltzer but have small differences that make them unique. Sparkling mineral water has minerals in it naturally, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says that it can be carbonated either naturally or by adding carbon dioxide. Club soda may also have trace minerals like sodium and potassium, but these are usually added by the company making the soda and don’t meet the FDA’s requirements for mineral water. Tonic water, which is often used to mix drinks, is known to contain quinine, which comes from tree bark and has a bitter taste. Kaufman says that sugar or high fructose corn syrup are added to tonic water to make up for the bitter taste of quinine.
Companies often add flavor to plain sparkling water to make it taste better.
In fact, NBC News reported that the National Beverage Corporation, which owns the popular sparkling water brand LaCroix, was hit with a class-action lawsuit in 2018 because the word “natural” isn’t clear enough. The claim said that the words “all natural” on LaCroix cans were misleading because the water contains linalool, limonene, and linalool propionate, a chemical that is also used in insecticides.
Representatives from the National Beverage Corporation responded to the lawsuit by saying that the claims were false and that the popular drink meets the FDA’s definition of “natural,” which means that nothing artificial or synthetic has been added.
According to Business Insider, the case was dropped in February 2020 because a third-party lab could not prove that some of the drink’s ingredients came from artificial sources. Instead, the ingredients could have come from natural sources.
The National Institutes of Health keeps a public database of chemical compounds called PubChem. This database shows that limonene is a chemical that is naturally found in the oil of citrus peels. Shannon Henry, RDN, a registered dietitian at EZCareClinic in San Francisco, says that it is often used to give food a lemon flavor and smell. Linalool comes from mint, herbs, and citrus fruits. Ginger contains linalool propionate, which is used for its smell and taste and doesn’t seem to be dangerous to humans.
“Both linalool and linalool propionate, which is also called linalyl propionate, come from plants,” says Henry. “Even though linalool is used to keep bugs away, that doesn’t mean it’s dangerous for people.”
When companies do add artificial flavors to sparkling water, they usually do so in the form of artificial sweeteners. The FDA says that aspartame, acesulfame-K, neotame, saccharin, sucralose, and stevia are all names for sweeteners that don’t add any nutrients.
What you need to know about sparkling water and how it affects your health.
The lawsuit against LaCroix is not the only time that sparkling water has been criticized. There have been lots of myths about carbonated drinks, like the one that says sparkling water can wear away tooth enamel. In April 2016, the Journal of the American Dental Association published a study that looked at the pH levels of 379 drinks. The study found that Perrier carbonated mineral water and S. Pellegrino sparkling natural mineral water had low erosion potential, while S. Pellegrino sparkling natural mineral water had a little bit more. They were measured at 5.25 pH and 4.96 pH, while Coca-Cola was measured at 2.37 pH. (a low pH indicates a higher erosion potential; still water is a neutral 7 pH). So, sparkling water isn’t as good for your teeth as still water.
Then there was the worry that carbonated drinks might make people gain weight. In one study, when rodents drank carbonated drinks, their levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin went up. That study, which was published in the September–October 2017 issue of the journal Obesity Research and Clinical Practice, was criticized because it was done on rats and not on humans. Also, other research has shown that sparkling water may have the opposite effect on appetite and weight. In a paper published in the journal Nutritional Science and Vitaminology, researchers at the University of Chicago School of Medicine found that carbonated water helped people feel full for a short time.
What to Think About When Buying Sparkling Water?
Sparkling water comes in almost every flavor you can think of these days. Kaufman says that when choosing one, it’s a good idea to look at the list of ingredients and avoid the above artificial sweeteners. She says to look for brands that only use natural flavors and carbonated water. Henry says that Spindrift is a good choice because it is made with real fruit juice and costs $26 for a 24-pack from Shop.drinkspindrift.com.
Let’s face it: drinking water with bubbles makes it more fun. The biggest reason to drink sparkling water is that it helps you stay hydrated. “It’s important to drink a lot of water every day for many reasons,” says Henry. “It helps control body temperature, keeps joints healthy, fights off infections, gives cells the nutrients they need, and keeps the body running normally.” “If you drink enough water, it will improve the quality of your sleep, your brain power, and your mood.”