Is Sparkling Water Actually Good For You?

Words: Crush

For weekend brunch club members and urban socialities, sparkling water is the first order of business when the waiter comes over. San Pelligrino and Valpré are just some of the names gracing trendy corner café tables and being ordered by the bottle. While its effervescent allure and refreshing taste have earned the carbonated drink popularity in recent years, team still water still struggles to see the appeal behind its over-the-top, unquenchable taste – in all honesty, if white noise or static had a taste, it would be sparkling water. Yet, for health-conscious eaters around the globe, the supposed benefits of sparkling water are indisputable – but do these claims hold any water?

The overwhelming options at grocery stores mean that humans are drinking more carbonated drinks than ever before, to the point where people no longer like the taste of plain old still water.

Sparkling Water & Hydration

In short, yes, sparkling water is a healthier alternative to sugary sodas and artificially flavoured beverages. But beneath its fizzy facade lies a debate swirling around its health benefits and potential drawbacks.

Before we delve into the pros and cons of sparkling water, there are several carbonated drink options available on the market. Here’s the difference between sparkling mineral water, seltzer (‘club soda’ for the Americans) and tonic water (gin’s better half).

Sparkling Mineral Water

This naturally carbonated originates from water springs and contains minerals like calcium, magnesium, and potassium, imparting a subtle ‘mineral’ taste. Unlike other carbonated waters, sparkling mineral water is prized for its unique mineral composition, which is believed to offer health benefits. It’s typically enjoyed on its own or as a mixer in cocktails.


Often referred to as ‘carbonated water’ or ‘club soda’, seltzer is plain water that has been carbonated, imparting bubbles without any additional flavours or minerals. It serves as a versatile base for cocktails and mocktails; it’s also a popular choice for those seeking a calorie-free, sugar-free alternative to soda.

Tonic Water

Distinct from other carbonated waters, tonic water contains quinine, a bitter compound derived from the cinchona tree, which gives it a slightly bitter taste. Originally formulated as a medicinal tonic to prevent malaria, modern tonic water is typically sweetened and flavoured with citrus or botanicals. It’s best known as a key ingredient in classic cocktails like the gin and tonic, but it can also be enjoyed on its own as a refreshing beverage.

The Pros of Sparkling Water

We’ve come a long way since the invention of the first carbonated drink, discovered in 1767 by Joseph Priestley. Today, the carbonated soft drinks market has an at-home revenue of US$ 226 billion, which is expected to grow annually by 5.33%, according to Statista.

Needless to say, the overwhelming options at grocery stores mean that humans are drinking more carbonated drinks than ever before, to the point where people no longer like the taste of plain old still water. This is just one of the reasons carbonated water and sparkling mineral water have won over the palates of many. Here are some benefits of drinking sparkling water.

Hydration with a Twist

One of the most touted benefits of sparkling water is its ability to keep you hydrated. While some may argue that the carbonation in sparkling water can hinder hydration, research suggests otherwise. A randomised study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition concluded that sparkling water is as effective as still water for hydration, making it a viable option for meeting your daily fluid intake requirements.

Calorie Control

For those watching their calorie intake, sparkling water presents itself as a guilt-free alternative to sugary beverages. Unlike sodas and fruit juices laden with added sugars and calories, sparkling water provides the fizz without the excess baggage, making it a health-conscious choice for those counting calories and carbohydrates.

Dental Health

Concerns regarding the impact of carbonated beverages on dental health are valid, yet sparkling water seems to have a less negative stance in this regard. Compared to acidic sodas, which can erode tooth enamel and contribute to dental decay, plain sparkling water is relatively pH-neutral and less likely to cause harm to your pearly whites. However, flavoured varieties may contain citric acid or other acidic additives, so moderation is key.

Digestive Aid

Some individuals find that the carbonation in sparkling water can aid digestion by promoting burping, which may alleviate bloating and discomfort after meals. Additionally, drinking water in any form can help prevent constipation and support overall digestive health.

The Cons of Sparkling Water

While the benefits of sparkling water are convincing as an alternative to saccharine drinks, there are still cons to drinking sparkling water.

Bone Health Concerns

One area of contention surrounding sparkling water revolves around its potential impact on bone health. Some studies suggest that the carbonation in sparkling water may slightly decrease bone mineral density, although the evidence remains inconclusive. It’s worth noting that carbonated beverages high in phosphoric acid, like cola drinks, have been more strongly linked to adverse effects on bone health than plain sparkling water.

Gastrointestinal Discomfort

Sparkling water can offer relief for some digestive issues, but it may exacerbate symptoms for others. The carbonation in sparkling water can lead to bloating, gas and discomfort in individuals with digestive conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Dental Erosion

Although plain sparkling water is less acidic than sodas, flavoured varieties may contain citric acid or other acidic additives that can erode tooth enamel over time. Consistent consumption of acidic beverages, even those without added sugars, can contribute to dental erosion and increase the risk of cavities. Some experts warn against drinking sparkling water for extended periods. Furthermore, to lessen the effects of potential dental corrosion, it’s advised to drink sparkling water using a straw, thus minimising contact with one’s teeth.

Potential Sodium Content

While most commercially available sparkling waters are naturally sodium-free, it’s crucial to check the labels, as some flavoured or sparkling mineral waters may contain added sodium. Excessive sodium intake can contribute to high blood pressure and other cardiovascular issues, so moderation is key, especially for those with sodium-restricted diets.

To Drink or Not to Drink…?

All things considered, sparkling water emerges as a refreshing and hydrating option that can fit into a balanced lifestyle. Its calorie-free nature, coupled with its ability to quench thirst and provide variety without added sugars, positions it favourably among health-conscious consumers. However, like any consumable, moderation is key – individual tolerances and preferences should be considered.

For those watching their calorie intake, sparkling water presents itself as a guilt-free alternative to sugary beverages.

Ultimately, whether sparkling water is ‘good for you’ depends on various factors, including your overall dietary habits. While it can offer hydration and a welcome break from sugary drinks, it’s essential to be mindful of potential drawbacks despite the benefits of sparkling water. Sure, drinking one or two bottles of sparkling water a day shouldn’t be incredibly harmful to your health, but drinking it as the primary source of hydration is something experts might warn you against.

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