Is zero calorie sparkling water good for you?

Sparkling water has become an increasingly popular alternative to sugary sodas and juices. With claims of weight loss benefits and no calories or sugar, sparkling waters like La Croix and Bubly are often portrayed as healthy options for hydration. But are they really as good for you as they seem?

What is sparkling water?

Sparkling water, also known as carbonated water, soda water, seltzer, or fizzy water, is plain water that has been infused with carbon dioxide gas under pressure. This produces the bubbly, effervescent effect. Sparkling water typically contains no calories, sugar, artificial sweeteners, or other additives like flavoring or supplements.

Some key differences between sparkling water and traditional soda include:

  • Soda contains added sweeteners like sugar or high fructose corn syrup, while sparkling water does not.
  • Soda often includes natural and/or artificial flavors, while sparkling water is unflavored or naturally flavored with fruit essences.
  • Soda provides empty calories, but sparkling water has zero calories.
  • Carbonation levels are often higher in soda compared to sparkling water.

While traditionally unflavored, many popular brands of sparkling water today include natural flavor additions like lemon, lime, berry, or other fruits. However, these flavorings contribute negligible, if any, calories and sugar.

Nutritional profile

As an unsweetened, unflavored beverage, plain sparkling water contains no calories, carbohydrates, sugar, fiber, fat, or protein. The only nutrient it provides is some sodium from naturally occurring mineral salts. A 12 fluid ounce serving may contain anywhere from 0-75 milligrams of sodium, depending on the brand.

Flavored sparkling waters have minimal impacts on the nutritional profile. Adding fruit essences introduces 1-5 calories and less than 1 gram of carbohydrates per serving. Some citrus flavors may include small amounts of niacin, vitamin B6, vitamin C, and potassium as well.

Overall, sparkling water is an extremely low calorie beverage choice. It hydrates like regular water without providing empty calories or added sugars found in sodas and many fruit drinks.

Benefits of sparkling water

Drinking sparkling water has several potential benefits:

Helps hydrate

Sparkling water is just as hydrating as regular water, providing a way to drink more fluids throughout the day. Consuming adequate water is important for digestion, circulation, brain function, temperature regulation, and overall health.

May support weight loss

Replacing higher calorie beverages like juice or soda with sparkling water can help reduce overall calorie and sugar intake, supporting weight loss and maintenance.

Supports digestive health

The carbonation in sparkling water can stimulate digestive responses and improve symptoms of dyspepsia or mild indigestion. The bubbles may also provide relief from constipation.

May reduce stroke risk

Research indicates drinking carbonated water may lower risk of stroke. A large study found that women who drank 1-5 glasses of sparkling water per day had a lower risk of ischemic stroke compared to women who drank none.

Offers an alternative to sugary drinks

Sparkling water provides the fizzy mouthfeel many people enjoy about soda, but without unhealthy added sweeteners. Having sparkling water on hand can help reduce intake of high calorie, sugary beverages.

May boost nutrient absorption

There is some evidence that the bubbles in sparkling water may help increase absorption of certain nutrients like B vitamins or vitamin C by improving digestion. More research is needed to confirm effects.

May support oral health

Drinking adequate water in general is linked to improved oral health. Sparkling water may provide additional benefits by killing bacteria, preventing dry mouth, and contributing to proper mineralization of tooth enamel. However, it may also erode enamel over time.

Potential downsides

While sparkling water is generally safe to consume as part of a balanced diet, there are a few potential downsides to consider:

Acidic pH

Carbonated water has a slightly acidic pH around 5. This acidity could contribute to erosion of tooth enamel over time. Using a straw may help reduce contact with teeth.

Gastrointestinal issues

The bubbles in sparkling water can cause bloating or gas for some people. Anyone with digestive issues like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) may experience increased symptoms from carbonated beverages.

Not enough nutrients

Since it only contains water and carbon dioxide, sparkling water does not provide any beneficial vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, or electrolytes like sports drinks or coconut water may offer.

Tooth staining

Sparkling water containing natural flavors may stain teeth over time. Citrus flavors are frequently associated with tooth discoloration.

May affect bone mineral density

There is conflicting evidence over whether the acidity in sparkling water may affect bone mineral density and increase risk of fractures. More research is needed to understand potential effects on bone health.

Not suitable for everyone

People with chronic kidney issues, some digestive disorders, or other medical conditions may be advised to avoid or limit consumption of carbonated beverages like sparkling water by their doctor.


For most healthy individuals sparkling water is very safe to drink in moderation as part of an overall healthy diet. There are minimal to no risks for most people.

However, there are some health precautions to keep in mind:

  • Children or those with swallowing issues may accidentally inhale sparkling water, increasing risk of choking.
  • Carbonated drinks may aggravate issues like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or heartburn.
  • Sparkling mineral water with high sodium levels should be avoided by those monitoring sodium intake.
  • People with kidney problems should exercise caution and consult a doctor about intake of sparkling water.
  • Those with active bladder issues or incontinence may experience worsened symptoms from carbonated drinks.
  • Sparkling water may erode tooth enamel with regular use over many years.

Pregnant and breastfeeding women are generally advised to limit intake to 1-2 servings per day to avoid excessive gas or bloating.

Sparkling water vs. soda

Sparkling water provides a bubbly alternative to sugary soda, offering the carbonation many people enjoy without the negatives of excessive sugar intake. Some key differences between sparkling water and soda include:

Sparkling Water Soda
No sugar High in added sugar
No calories High in empty calories
No artificial sweeteners or colors Often contains artificial ingredients
May contain natural flavors Typically contains artificial flavors
No caffeine May contain caffeine
Does not affect blood sugar Raises blood sugar levels
Helps hydrate May contribute to dehydration
Safe for most people High intake linked to health risks

Overall, sparkling water is the healthier choice over soda due to no sugar or calories and fewer additives. However soda in moderation can be safely enjoyed by most people.

Flavored vs. unflavored

Both plain and flavored sparkling waters provide hydration without calories or sweeteners. Key differences include:

  • Unflavored has no taste, while flavored has added fruit essences.
  • Flavored varieties may contain 1-5 calories per serving vs. 0 calories for unflavored.
  • Flavored options provide very minor amounts of vitamins like vitamin C, niacin, etc.
  • Flavored sparkling water is more prone to staining teeth over time.
  • Pure sparkling water avoids any flavors or additives altogether.

The choice between flavored or unflavored comes down to personal preference. Both types hydrate equally as well.

Is sparkling water bad for your teeth?

There are concerns that the acidic pH and carbonation of sparkling water may damage tooth enamel over time. However, research overall shows minimal to no impact on dental health for most people when consumed in moderation.

Potential effects of sparkling water on teeth include:

  • Sparkling water has a mildly acidic pH around 5, which may erode enamel with excessive consumption over many years.
  • Carbonation may amplify acidity, but carbonated mineral water is actually less acidic than orange juice or soda.
  • Natural flavors like citrus further increase the acidic levels, worsening effects on enamel.
  • With regular use, sparkling water may contribute to loss of enamel hardness and thickness.
  • Using a straw helps reduce contact of carbonated water with teeth.
  • Sparkling water does not appear to reduce saliva flow or pH in the mouth for most people.
  • Flavored varieties may stain teeth over time, but no effect on plaque or cavities.
  • Sparkling water is far less harmful than acidic drinks like soda or juice.

Overall, sparkling water is non-toxic for teeth in moderation. Proper dental hygiene and avoiding excessive consumption can help minimize any risks of enamel erosion.

Does sparkling water dehydrate you?

Sparkling water does not dehydrate. It hydrates just as effectively as regular water, providing fluid without calories, sweeteners, or additives.

Some key facts about sparkling water and hydration:

  • The carbonation does not impact how hydrating sparkling water is for the body.
  • Sparkling water is absorbed and used by the body the same as regular water.
  • The bubbles provide a different mouthfeel but do not reduce hydration ability.
  • Sparkling water hydrates equally well as still water in healthy people.
  • Those with digestive issues may become bloated from the carbonation, temporarily uncomfortable.
  • Sparkling water is not a diuretic – it does not increase fluid loss from the body.
  • Excessive amounts of any fluid can temporarily overload the kidneys.
  • Flavorings have minimal diuretic effect due to tiny amounts of citric acid.

For most people sparkling water hydrates just like regular water. It provides a calorie-free, caffeine-free way to flavor water and drink more throughout the day.


Sparkling water is generally safe for most healthy people to consume as part of a balanced diet. The biggest benefits are hydration without calories, sugar, or artificial additives. There are minimal risks aside from potential dental erosion with excessive long-term use.

While no direct health benefits have been confirmed, choosing sparkling water over sugary sodas and juices supports weight management and hydration without downsides for calorie intake. The bubbles create a different mouthfeel that many find enjoyable as well.

Overall, sparkling water can be part of a healthy lifestyle. Focus on moderation, proper dental care, and limiting acidic flavors to minimize any potential negatives when regularly drinking carbonated water.

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