Is Sparkling Water Healthy?

Photo Courtesy: Lukasz Kochanek/iStock

We’re always hearing how important it is to drink enough water. And it’s true that staying hydrated is important for your health. But many people don’t like drinking plain water or just want a little variety. Enter: sparkling water. It’s like water with a twist! And it’s wildly popular these days. If you find yourself guzzling these fizzy waters by the case, you may be wondering: Is sparkling water healthy? 

Sparkling Water, Mineral Water, Seltzer: Are Fizzy Waters All the Same?

First things first: what is “sparkling water”? And is it different from other types of bubbly, fizzy water?

  • Sparkling water (also called seltzer) is water that’s been artificially carbonated. That means a manufacturer infused the water with carbon dioxide (CO2) to make it fizzy. 
  • Mineral water is natural spring or well water that has naturally occurring minerals in it, like calcium carbonate, potassium, magnesium sulfate and sodium sulfate. Natural mineral water may be more or less fizzy, depending on where it came from and how much of each mineral the spring or well water contains.
  • Club soda (also called soda water) is also artificially carbonated with carbon dioxide — but manufacturers also add some other minerals like potassium sulfate, sodium chloride and sodium bicarbonate.
  • Flavored sparkling water is sparkling water with added flavorings. Some types just add natural or artificial flavoring (like lemon or grapefruit flavors), but some may also add artificial sweeteners or even added sugars. Read the label to find out what types of flavorings or sweeteners are in each kind.
  • Tonic water is also carbonated water, but unlike the types above, it also has added sugar. That makes it a worse choice, health-wise. It has a distinctive bitter taste and is often used in cocktails, like a gin and tonic.

So, Is Sparkling Water a Healthy Choice?

Several studies suggest that sparkling water may have health benefits — especially if it helps you increase your fluids for the day or replaces sugary drinks. Check out these answers to common health questions about sparkling water:

  • Is sparkling water hydrating? Yes — plain water and sparkling water hydrate your body equally well. Sparkling water, mineral water and club soda are all nutritionally similar to plain water. So if you’re struggling to stay hydrated with plain water alone, any of these three beverages are a great choice to quench your thirst.
  • Is sparkling water healthier than soda? For sure. Sparkling water has no calories and no added sugars. So it’s a much healthier beverage choice than sugary sodas. Just make sure to read the label when you buy flavored sparkling water — some brands may have added sugar in addition to fruit flavorings. 
  • Can sparkling water help with digestion? Sparkling water may improve digestion for some people. For example, some small studies have shown that for people who have throat problems or trouble swallowing, carbonated water may be easier to drink and even help with their symptoms. But more research is needed about the potential benefits for digestion.

Can sparkling water be bad for you?

The short answer is no — there’s no evidence that sparkling water is harmful to health. Check out the truth behind these common concerns and misconceptions about sparkling water:

  • Does sparkling water make you bloated? Sparkling water contains CO2 gas, so if you gulp it down quickly, you may have short-term issues like hiccups, bloating or indigestion. If you notice these gastrointestinal issues, sparkling water may not be the right drink choice for you. But if you don’t experience any stomach issues after drinking sparkling water, then there’s no reason to stop.
  • Is sparkling water bad for your teeth? Carbonated water is slightly acidic, so some people worry that it could harm tooth enamel. However, carbonic acid is only bad for your teeth when it’s combined with citric acid — and plain sparkling water doesn’t have citric acid. Studies show that plain sparkling water doesn’t harm tooth enamel. If you’re concerned about your teeth, avoid drinking soda. Soda has citric acid and added sugar, which can spell trouble for your dental health.
  • Is sparkling water bad for your bones? Nope. Research has shown that drinking sparkling water does not affect bone density. On the other hand, several studies have shown that soda is linked to lower bone density. So if you want to protect your bone health, sparkling water is a far better choice than soda.

Remember, it’s important to read the label when you’re choosing sparkling water at the store. Look for types with no added sugar. And if you want a healthy burst of flavor, try adding fresh fruits, veggies or herbs to your sparkling water or seltzer — like lemon, cucumber or mint.

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