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Is Sparkling Water Healthy or Does It Fall Flat?

San Pellegrino, Perrier, La Croix, Waterloo, Bubly, Spindrift … the list of seltzer and sparkling water brands goes on and on. It seems Coke and Pepsi have more competition on store shelves these days as more people are looking for healthy alternatives to soda or diet soft drinks.

Since its invention several centuries ago, sparkling water has gone by many other names: seltzer water, carbonated water or soda water. Today, this bubbly drink market is valued at over $30 billion.

With so many options out there, you may be wondering which is better (and even more hydrating) for you, tap water or sparkling water. Tyler Florek, a registered dietitian with Banner Health, shares everything about sparkling water and whether it fizzes or falls flat.

What is sparkling water?

“Sparkling water is a combination of water, carbon dioxide gas (CO2) and other minerals, often calcium, magnesium and sodium,” Florek said. “This process creates a fizzy water that can come in many different forms.”

These different types of carbonated waters aren’t always created equal. They vary in processing methods and added compounds. 

Some flavored sparkling water brands can include caffeine, citric acid, phosphoric acid and added sugars. Other carbonated waters have sodium, artificial sweeteners and natural flavors. The different forms of carbonated water include:

  • Sparkling water: This comes from a spring or well, so you may see it sold as sparkling mineral water. 
  • Club soda: This is infused with carbon dioxide and added minerals to enhance the flavor and give it a slightly salty taste.
  • Seltzer water: This does not contain any minerals, but it may come with natural flavors added.
  • Tonic water: This contains an added mineral called quinine, which gives it a bitter taste. Sometimes brands will add artificial flavors and sweeteners to improve the water’s taste.

Is sparkling water as healthy as still water?

“Generally speaking, drinking sparkling water has no negative health risks,” Florek said.

In fact, drinking carbonated water is just as hydrating as drinking regular water. It has also been shown to increase feelings of fullness and may aid in constipation and improve digestion.

There have been concerns in the past that carbonated water can cause issues with tooth enamel, but Florek said the risk is still relatively low. Plain carbonated water poses a lesser risk to dental health than sugar-sweetened carbonated beverages.

“Sparkling water has a pH of 3 to 4, which is mildly acidic,” he said. “Repeated exposure to acidic liquids may potentially be damaging to enamel, but there is very little evidence to support this.”

When carbon dioxide and water react chemically, they produce carbonic acid, a weak acid. When companies add citric acid or phosphoric acid for flavoring to carbonated water, pH can drop to erosive levels, but nothing to the level of soft drinks.

Another common concern is that the acidity in carbonated water is harmful to bone health. However, the only drinks that cause bone loss are dark colas, which have phosphoric acid. These beverages can interfere with calcium absorption.

“Many sparkling waters contain magnesium and calcium, which may have bone-boosting benefits and may be beneficial for maintaining a healthy blood pressure,” Florek added. 

Is caffeinated sparkling water better for you than coffee?

If you aren't a fan of coffee but want the boost of caffeine, then caffeinated sparkling water may be a good fit for you. And it’s a better alternative to the stereotypical energy drink

However, Florek said to mind the label. Ensure it has only a few other added ingredients and contains less than 200 mg of caffeine per serving. 

“Evidence suggests that we can have up to 400 mg of caffeine daily without any adverse effects,” Florek said.

Does drinking sparkling water cause gas and bloating?

For some people, carbonated beverages of any kind are no bueno on their gut. Because it is carbonated, it can cause gas and bloating in some people. If you have acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and experience extra gas, bloating or heartburn, you may want to switch to non-carbonated beverages like plain still water.

What should I look for in sparkling water?

To make sure your fizzy drink is as good-for-you as can be, Florek shared the following tips:

  • Choose a low-sodium brand with no added sugars, artificial flavors or artificial sweeteners. A little natural sweetness from real fruit juice is OK.
  • Avoid drinking too much sparkling water with high amounts of citric acid or caffeine. 
  • Save more acidic drinks for mealtime and pair them with still regular water.
  • Always follow the direction of your health care provider, especially if you need to restrict your total daily fluid intake for heart or kidney conditions.


It seems sparkling water is here to stay. There isn’t any major evidence that plain sparkling water harms your health. 

“At the end of the day, if sparkling water helps you hydrate and meet your water needs, then go for it,” Florek said. 

So, open a can (or twist off the cap) and enjoy your fizzy sparkling water beverage.

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