Brands like La Croix, Perrier and Pellegrino have become almost addictive alternatives to drinking water. The delicious calorie-free, sugar-free and sodium-free water give people the option of having something sweet without consuming an unhealthy and high-calorie beverage like pop. But is seltzer water bad for you?
“Seltzer water, or water that has been pressurized with carbon dioxide gas to produce effervescence [bubbles], does not differ from regular water if added flavors are not added to the drink,” says Rosemary Mueller, a registered dietitian at Advocate Medical Group Weight Management in Park Ridge, Ill. “Seltzer water has the same pH as regular water, but ideally should not be the source of your daily water intake.”
Mueller recommends reading the label on carbonated waters carefully, as the flavor enhancers can contain sodium, artificial sweeteners and sugary additives, not to mention acids in the drink can wreak havoc on your teeth.
When seltzer water is unflavored, the fizzy water contains an acid – carbonic acid – that gives it its bubbles, according to Mueller.
In a 2007 study, researchers exposed extracted human teeth to flavored sparkling water for 30 minutes. After testing the teeth against three flavored sparkling waters –lemon and lime, grapefruit and peach – researchers found the waters to be roughly corrosive as orange juice.
Another misconception is that seltzer water can weaken your bones. In a 2006 study by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers at Harvard Medical School found that cola was associated with lower hip bone density in women, but not in carbonated drinks like seltzer.
While plain seltzer water is a nutritional improvement over the high calories of regular soda, Mueller recommends everything be in moderation.
Some tips for better daily water intake include:
- Make water the preferred (and sole) beverage of choice when you go to a restaurant.
- Carry a bottle of water around with you.
- Have a glass of water with your meals as a routine.
- Make a habit of drinking a glass of water when you first wake up or an hour before you go to bed.
- If you are craving food but not sure what to eat, try to drink water first. It’s possible for hunger and thirst cues to be mixed up.
- If you don’t have accessible cool water at home or work, keep a bottle or pitcher of water in the fridge or carry an “insulated cooler” bottle with you.
- A healthy alternative to plain water is adding lemons or cucumbers for added flavor.