[If you're just in it for the recipes, click here!] As the risks of soda and other sugary beverages become more and more widely known, many health-conscious folks are turning to sparkling water instead. Americans actually consume a whopping 170 million gallons of the stuff each year!

However, before you start drinking sparkling water unthinkingly, be aware that it doesn't come in only one type. First, there's your plain sparkling water, usually called seltzer, which is made by infusing regular water with carbon dioxide.

Then there's club soda, also sometimes called soda water, which is a similarly made carbonated water beverage to which some minerals have been added to enhance its flavor. Club soda will typically contain extra ingredients like sodium bicarbonate (also known as baking soda) or potassium sulfate, but still no calories or sugar.

Next up are your mineral waters, which are often naturally carbonated by the springs they are taken from. Mineral waters and club soda both may contain sodium, which is something to watch if you're already suffering from a condition like high blood pressure.

However, they may also contain trace amounts of potentially beneficial minerals like calcium, magnesium, potassium, bicarbonate, iron, and zinc. Natural mineral water is probably your best bet as far as sparkling waters go health-wise, but it's also slightly more expensive than your typical sparkling water.

perrier

Then there's flavored sparkling water, which is where you start to run into trouble. Some flavored sparkling waters contain sugar, which should be obvious from their calorie count, but even a 0-calorie flavored sparkling water may contain artificial sweeteners, added salt (which most Americans and Australians already get too much of) and "natural flavors," a nebulous term that could mean pretty much anything.

Even natural flavors may also interfere with your body's complex mechanisms for regulating your appetite, since they may "tell" your system that there are more or different nutrients in what you are eating or drinking that there actually are.

In other words, you should probably have the orange you're craving or add some actual fresh orange juice to your sparkling water rather than grab an orange flavored sparkling water.

Then there's tonic water, which is set apart from the others by the fact that it contains bitter quinine; unfortunately, it also usually contains as much sugar as soda, so stay safely away from this one!

Sparkling water tastes different from typical water despite the fact that both contain zero calories because it is slightly acidic. Many people find this taste enjoyable, though more sensitive tasters may find it irritating.

Luckily, your body is pretty good at maintaining your optimal PH despite the amount of acid you consume, though high acid intake may worsen reflux in sensitive individuals.

Some people can also experience gas or bloating due to swallowing more air than usual, especially if they drink it too quickly. Acidic beverages have also been associated with flare-ups of diseases like irritable bowel syndrome.

However, another study found that drinking sparkling water actually helped relieve digestive symptoms, including indigestion, impaired gall bladder emptying, and constipation.

Sparkling water also has gotten a bit of a bad rap for being potentially harmful to your teeth, but studies have shown that it damaged enamel only slightly more than water and about 100 times less than sugary soft drinks. Note that diet soft drinks have the same effect, or could be even worse!

If you eat an otherwise healthy diet low in cavity causing substances like sugar, get enough flouride (found in many public water systems and some varieties of bottled water), and don't suffer from any interfering conditions like dry mouth, sparkling water alone probably won't do much damage to your teeth.

However, if you are worried about carbonated water's effect on your teeth, you could try drinking it with meals, rinsing with regular water afterwards, or diluting it with regular water. You should also be aware that citrus flavors will probably be more acidic and thus worse on your teeth, and some experts hypothesize that the nutrients contained in mineral waters may cancel out the corrosive effects.

sparkling

Some people who have difficulty swallowing or problems with chronic throat clearing have also found relief from carbonated water, and women who drank carbonated water reported greater feelings of fullness afterwards than when they drank still water. Another study found that drinking carbonated water with their meal caused subjects' food to stay in their stomachs longer, presumably increasing the the time they remain satiated.

One study also seemed to suggest that a calorie-free carbonated beverage lowered the levels of hunger hormone ghrelin in obese subjects, though, interestingly, a study done on healthy young men found the opposite. In the end, it comes down to what works for you!

In the end, though drinking a lot of sparkling water is definitely a lot better for you than not drinking enough water period, there a few decent reasons to think twice about making it your go-to beverage.

However, if you're using sparkling water as a substitute for a harmful drink like soda, go right ahead, and our recipe for a homemade healthy diet soda made with flavored stevia will help you do just that!

We've also put together some recipe ideas that combine sparkling water with healthy antioxidant-filled apple juice and metabolism-boosting coffee and green tea. If you're on the 123Diet and still thirsty, feel free to try one of these great drink recipes as a mocktail!

Apple Green Tea Sparkler

apple and tea

All the amazing fat-burning power of apples and green tea in a super-tasty beverage! Estimated nutritional value of 80 calories and 0 g fat.

Prep Time
5 minutes
Cook time
N/A
Yield
Makes 1 serving (1 fruit)

Ingredients

  • 1 apple juiced
  • ½ cup brewed green tea chilled
  • ¼ cup sparkling mineral water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla stevia
  • Pinch of cinnamon

Directions
Combine juice of 1 apple, green tea, cinnamon, vanilla stevia together. Add crushed ice and sparkling mineral water. Garnish with apple curls and lemon wedge.

Recipe provided by


Sparkling Chocolate Mint Coffee Soda

coffee and mint

No need for a fancy peppermint mocha when you can sip on this sparkly calorie free substitute! Estimated nutritional value of 0 calories and 0 g fat (without milk).

Prep Time
5 minutes
Cook time
N/A
Yield
Makes one serving

Ingredients

  • 4 ounces strong brewed coffee
  • 4 ounces sparkling mineral water
  • Dark chocolate or milk chocolate stevia
  • Peppermint stevia
  • 1 tablespoon milk (optional)
  • Ice
  • Mint leaves (optional)

Directions
Mix coffee, stevia, and milk. Pour over ice and add sparkling mineral water. Garnish with mint leaf.

Recipe provided by


Homemade Diet Soda

homemade diet soda

No need for typical diet sodas now that you have this tasty substitute! Estimated nutritional value depends on fruit choice.

Prep Time
5 minutes
Cook time
N/A
Yield
Makes 1 serving

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces sparkling mineral water
  • Flavored stevia to taste
  • Your choice of 3-5 tablespoons fresh orange, lemon, or apple juice (optional)

Directions
Add flavored stevia to sparkling mineral water to taste. The most commonly available options are orange, grape, vanilla, chocolate, and root beer. There are many flavors of stevia on the market. Shop at your local health food store or online to find additional flavors. Add fresh lemon or lime juices and slices to make a lemon-lime flavor. Get creative. Try combining flavors like orange and vanilla to create a dreamsicle soda.

Recipe provided by

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