mineral water, sparkling water, tonic water, carbonated water, flavored water. There are so many water options to choose from, but how do they compare to regular tap water? And what is the most nutritious option?
dietician kate patton, med, rd, cssd, ld, discusses the many water options available today.
Sparkling water (or carbonated 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 tingling bubbles to the taste of still water.
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, or artificial colors (often used as flavorings or preservatives) on the label, skip the sparkling water and opt for tap water.
mineral water is often naturally carbonated. but store-bought varieties differ from what you get from a homemade soda stream. depending on the brand, they contain different 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. but sodium can be a problem if you follow a low-salt diet. if that’s the case and you’re trying to limit your sodium intake, then tap water is the healthier option.
tonic and sparkling water
many of us choose sparkling waters because they have no calories. but it’s important to watch out for hidden sugars and artificial sweeteners.
Tonic water is bitter, but it actually contains sugar. in fact, a can of tonic water can contain as much sugar as a typical soda! If you can’t part with your tonic water, enjoy it from time to time and be sure to adjust your other calories throughout the day to account for the pleasure.
on the other hand, carbonated or sparkling water has no added sugar, so it’s probably the smartest choice.
Be sure to read the ingredients of 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.
the problem of artificial sweeteners
Regular consumption of artificially sweetened beverages has been linked to a significantly increased risk of metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and even cancer. Studies also show that artificially sweetened beverages can make you feel hungry and encourage you to eat more, which can lead to obesity and a wide range of other health problems.
look for another brand if you see 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 plain water or sparkling water, it’s best to stay hydrated with beverages that are calorie-free and contain no artificial sweeteners.
Try adding lime, lemon or cucumber slices for a refreshing and delicious twist to tap water or sparkling water. or look for water enhancements (usually sold in powder, liquid, or tablet form), but make sure they don’t contain calories or sugar.