How Healthy Is Your Favorite Sparkling or Mineral Water?
Mineral water, sparkling water, tonic water, club soda, flavored water. How do they stack up against tap water? And which is the most nutritious choice?
Contributor: Beth Bluestone, RD, LD
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Mineral water, sparkling water, tonic water, club soda, flavored water. So many options, but how do they stack up against tap water? And which is the most nutritious choice?
Here’s a breakdown of the many options available today:
Sparkling water is tap water infused with carbon dioxide for carbonation. It won’t hydrate you any better than tap water, but you may prefer the tingly bubbles.
But not all sparkling waters are created equal, so you’ll want to read the ingredients before buying or drinking one. If you see sugar, artificial sweeteners, artificial coloring or citric acid (used as flavoring or preservative) on the label, tap water is the better option.
Mineral water is often naturally carbonated. But store-bought varieties differ from what you get from a home soda stream. Depending on the brand, they contain various amounts of calcium, sodium and magnesium.
Calcium is important for bone health and overall muscle function. Magnesium helps your body regulate blood sugar and blood pressure. The sodium may pose a problem if you’re on a low-salt diet. Then tap water is the healthier choice.
Many of us choose sparkling waters because they’re calorie-free. But it’s important to watch for hidden sugars and artificial sweeteners.
Tonic water is bitter but contains sugar. One can of tonic water may contain as much sugar as a typical soda. On the other hand, club soda, or seltzer water, has no added sugar.
Be sure to read the ingredients on fruit-flavored sparkling waters to make sure the flavors aren’t masking ingredients like sugar or artificial sweeteners. Calorie-free flavored waters often contain artificial sweeteners.
Regular consumption of artificially sweetened beverages has been linked to a significantly greater risk of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes. Studies also show that artificially sweetened beverages can make you feel hungry and encourage you to eat more, which can lead to obesity.
Look for another brand if you read words like sugar, high fructose corn syrup, aspartame or sucralose on the label — your body will appreciate it.
At the end of the day, whether you choose regular water or sparkling water, it’s best to stay hydrated with beverages that are free of both calories and artificial sweeteners. Try adding lime, lemon or cucumber slices to give plain tap water or sparkling water for a refreshing twist.