Seltzer water, sparkling water, mineral water, club soda: Whatever you choose to call it, these are all forms of carbonated water.
Refreshing and hydrating, carbonated water can have several benefits for your health. While it's not exactly on par with regular water, it's a much better alternative to drinks like soda with added sweeteners.
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Here, learn about the health benefits of sparkling water, the potential risks and how to make the bubbly drink more tasty.
First, What Is Carbonated Water?
Carbonated water is water that has carbon dioxide bubbles in it. This gas can be natural or infused into still water.
Sources of Carbonated Water
Natural spring water is often the basis for carbonated water, and when bottled, it's sold as "sparkling water" or "seltzer." Mineral water is also sourced from a spring or well and is naturally carbonated.
Man-made carbonated water (like club soda), on the other hand, is made by forcing carbon dioxide gas into the bottle using pressure. Like soda, you can hear the gas escaping with a hissing sound when you open the bottle.
What Does Carbonated Water Taste Like?
Mostly, carbonated water will have a slight bitter taste, which you'll especially notice if it's gone flat. You can get carbonated water plain or with added flavor, and it is often used as a base for other mixed drinks. But even on its own, it can stimulate your tastebuds, per Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
10 Possible Health Benefits of Carbonated Water
This refreshing beverage is a great palate cleanser, but is carbonated water actually good for you?
If you've wondered what carbonated water is good for, it may have some health benefits. Keep in mind, however, that some of these claims need further research and are only backed by smaller and older studies.
More research is needed to determine the connection between many of these health benefits and carbonated water. Here's what we know so far:
1. It Can Replace Soft Drinks
If you are trying to quit soda (which is no easy task!) substituting some of your favorite soft drinks with carbonated water can help satisfy your cravings for something fizzy.
Sugary beverages account for one-third of added sugars and 6.5 percent of total daily calories in the average American diet, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). To break it down, one can of soda has anywhere from 140 to 160 calories, and can have more than 43 grams of added sugar. In comparison, most carbonated waters have zero calories and zero grams of added sugars, unless marked otherwise (which is arguably one of the best benefits of drinking carbonated water).
Sugary beverages like soda, when enjoyed in large amounts, can contribute to illnesses like diabetes, metabolic syndrome and heart disease, per the CDC. They can also negatively affect your gut flora and alter your glycemic control, per an August 2017 review in QJM.
Diet soda isn't any better. It often has many artificial sweeteners like aspartame, saccharine and sugar alcohols, and may stimulate appetite and increase sugar cravings, per the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
Soda can also have serious health risks, and is even associated with higher risk of all-cause mortality, according to a September 2019 study in JAMA Internal Medicine, which followed more than 45,000 individuals from 10 European countries.
Carbonated water, on the other hand, is not associated with any of these health risks.
If you want to add flavor to your sparkling water, squeeze in a lime, lemon or grapefruit, or add other fresh fruit like berries or cucumber slices to your glass for natural sweetness.
Watch out for tonic water and flavored sparkling water, which can pack just as much added sugar as soda as soda. Tonic water also contains quinine, which gives it its bitter taste. Too much quinine can cause upset stomach and a headache, per the Cleveland Clinic.
2. It Helps You Stay Hydrated
Especially if you don't like the taste of plain water, carbonated water can help get your H2O levels up. Staying properly hydrated is important for your overall health, so thankfully, one of the benefits of seltzer water is hydration.
A few things happen in your body when you're properly hydrated, including the following, per the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health:
- The body cools itself
- The mouth, nose and eyes stay moist
- The joints and muscles function optimally
- The skin is elastic and healthy
- The blood volume increases for better heart health
So the next time you're feeling thirsty, or can feel the symptoms of dehydration coming on, you can reach for a bottle of carbonated water to help.
3. It May Improve Swallowing Ability
For those with problems swallowing due to an esophagus injury or illness, carbonated water may actually improve symptoms.
Indeed, an April 2014 comparative study in Dysphagia suggests that carbonated water improves subsequent swallowing of regular water in older adults.
So for people with swallowing issues, one of the main benefits of soda water is its ability to be swallowed easily.
4. It Has Been Linked to Lower Heart Disease Risk
Though not much evidence is available, one small 2004 study in the Journal of Nutrition found an interesting sparkling water health benefit: Drinking carbonated water with high levels of calcium and magnesium was associated with a reduced risk of heart disease in postmenopausal people.
This connection, however, needs further research to determine its validity.
5. It's Been Connected to Better Blood Flow
One small December 2016 study in Physiological Reports found that submerging the legs in mildly warm carbonated water is associated with increased blood flow in healthy young adults.
This finding may lead some people to believe that bathing in carbonated water is an effective way to regulate blood pressure and increase blood flow to skin without taking a scalding-hot bath, but it's still unclear. More research needs to be done to prove this connection.
6. It May Help With Weight Loss
One known sparkling water benefit is its zero-calorie and zero-sugar content. Additionally, its fizz may help you feel fuller longer, according to UChicagoMedicine. This means carbonated water could be a smart addition to a balanced diet when you're trying to lose weight.
Keep in mind, however, that there's no evidence to suggest carbonated water is any better for you than regular water for weight loss.
Mineral Water Benefits
Yes, mineral water is good for you, too. In fact, it may be better than any other kinds of carbonated water.
Here are a few benefits of mineral water to keep in mind the next time you reach for it at the store or order it at a restaurant.
7. It Contains Essential Minerals
Turns out, mineral water actually does contain minerals. Some important elements in mineral water include the following, per a December 2016 review in Clinical Cases in Mineral and Bone Metabolism:
These minerals aid in maintaining metabolic health and healthy blood clotting, regulating fluid balance and keeping bones strong, per the study.
Some mineral water options contain as much as 348 milligrams of calcium per liter (that's 44 percent of the daily value of calcium based on a 2,000-calorie diet), according to an older 2000 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. (There hasn't been a similar analysis done more recently.)
Calcium is known for supporting bone and muscle function, heart function, nerve transmission and hormone secretion, per Mount Sinai.
In fact, the Clinical Cases in Mineral and Bone Metabolism study found calcium in mineral water may be better absorbed than the calcium found in milk.
Mineral water also has magnesium, which plays a role in many biological functions, like the synthesis of protein, muscle and nerve function and regulation of blood sugar and blood pressure, per Mount Sinai.
Some mineral water contains up to 110 milligrams of magnesium per liter, about 29 percent of the daily value for this mineral, per another older (2002) study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. (There hasn't been a similar analysis done more recently.)
If you're unsure which sparkling mineral water is good for you, check the nutrition facts on the back of the bottle to see which nutrients it contains.
8. It May Support Digestive Health
You might be wondering if there are benefits of mineral water for your gut. Well, according to the Clinical Cases in Mineral and Bone Metabolism study mentioned above, mineral water can also have a positive effect on your digestion.
That's because mineral water contains sulphate and magnesium — two minerals that can help stimulate bowel movements. Both are often used together in medical settings to help chronic constipation, per the Mayo Clinic.
Sulphate-rich mineral waters in particular have a mild laxative effect, per a July 2020 study in Nutrients. So if you're having trouble "going," you may want to try it out. You may benefit from drinking mineral water brands like Gerolsteiner or San Pellegrino, which contain sulfate.
Or, if you're just full after a big meal, a glass of mineral water may help settle your stomach.
9. It May Increase Bone Density
Some people have made claims that bicarbonate calcic mineral water in particular, like the brand Acqua Lete, may increase bone density and reduce bone loss. However, there is not enough evidence to support this claim. More research is needed regarding bone loss and bone density treatments to make this connection.
The only reputable study done is from 1999 in the Journal of Endocrinological Investigation. It states that out of the 255 women studied, those in post-menopause who regularly drank calcium-rich mineral water had a higher average bone density. However, this was an observational study, so it only establishes a link between mineral water and better bone density — it doesn't prove causation. (Note: The study authors used the term "women," which is why we've included it, but LIVESTRONG.com generally tries to avoid using gendered language in our content whenever possible.)
10. It May Improve Blood Lipids
Another claim that tends to get made is that bicarbonate natural mineral water may improve blood lipids (or fats in your bloodstream).
Indeed, there is one February 2014 trial in Advanced Pharmaceutical Bulletin that found drinking mineral water rich in calcium, magnesium bicarbonate and sulfate was associated with decreased cholesterol and LDL levels.
However, more research needs to be done on this connection, as the study only included 69 people and reported results after just one month.
Potential Risks of Carbonated Water
While there are many positive claims about this refreshing drink, there are also some potential side effects of drinking carbonated water all the time. These include:
1. Some Varieties May Contain Added Sugars
If you pick up a flavored carbonated water or one that also contains juice, check the label for the sugar content. If you are trying to steer clear of added sugars for weight-loss or health purposes, you may not realize you're taking in additional sugar and calories in these drinks.
Some may also have artificial sweeteners which may negatively react with your body, causing things like diarrhea, allergic reactions or tooth decay, per the Mayo Clinic.
2. It May Worsen Heartburn
For anyone who deals with heartburn, a bubbly beverage like carbonated water may increase your symptoms. This is due to its carbonic acid content, which makes carbonated water a slightly acidic drink.
So, when you get that fiery feeling in your chest, stick with natural remedies to relieve heartburn and steer clear of carbonated water if you can.
The more acidic a food or drink is, the closer to zero it will be on the pH scale (which ranges from zero to 14). For reference, club soda has a pH of 3.69 and warm club soda has a pH of 4.4.
A benefit of mineral water brands like Gerolsteiner and Badoit is that they have higher pH (5.2 and 5.12 when cold), making them less acidic, per McGill University.
3. It May Worsen Gas and Bloating
For some, a health benefit of soda water is its ability to settle an upset stomach.
For others, however, the fizz in carbonated water can cause even more gas and bloating. You may find that indulging in carbonated water will cause you to have excessive gas and stomach pain, per the Cleveland Clinic.
4. It May Damage Your Teeth
Acidic foods and drinks tend to wear away at your tooth enamel. Without that protective enamel, you are at higher risk for developing cavities and other dental diseases, per the Cleveland Clinic.
So, if you already have sensitive teeth, aim to enjoy carbonated water and carbonated beverages in moderation.
The Bottom Line
Not all carbonated beverages are created equal. So if you're digging into carbonation health facts, the beverages without added sugars, flavors and preservatives are best.
So, take advantage of sparkling water as a substitute for soda if you're trying to kick the habit. You could also reach for a mineral water, which is good for you, too, if you're looking to increase your calcium and magnesium intake. Even soda water will have more health benefits than sugary soft drinks.
While many claims stated in this article need further research, it's clear that carbonated water in moderation isn't bad for you. If anything, it could be a beneficial addition to your balanced diet.
- Clinical Cases in Mineral and Bone Metabolism: Natural Mineral Waters: Chemical Characteristics and Health Effects
- Howard Hughes Medical Institute: "Research Reveals How the Tongue Tastes Carbonation"
- McGill Office for Science and Society: Is Carbonated Water Bad for Your Teeth?
- Harvard Health Publishing: Is Seltzer a Better Option Than Soda?
- Journal of Nutrition: "A sodium-rich carbonated mineral water reduces cardiovascular risk in postmenopausal women"
- Dysphagia: "Effect of carbonated beverages on pharyngeal swallowing in young individuals and elderly inpatients"
- CDC: "Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Consumption Among U.S. Adults, 2011-2014"
- Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: "Sugary Drinks"
- My Food Data: "Unsweetened Almond Milk"
- My Food Data: "Carbonated Cola Fast-Food Cola"
- QJM: An International Journal of Medicine: "Sugar and Artificially Sweetened Beverages Linked to Obesity: a systemic review and meta-analysis"
- Jama Internal Medicine: "Association Between Soft Drink Consumption and Mortality in 10 European Countries"
- Cleveland Clinic: "Is Sparkling Water Good for You?"
- Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: "The importance of hydration"
- Nutrients: "Magnesium Sulfate-Rich Natural Mineral Waters in the Treatment of Functional Constipation–A Review"
- Journal of Endocrinological Investigation: "Importance of bioavailable calcium drinking water for the maintenance of bone mass in post-menopausal women"
- Physiological Reports: "Acute vascular effects of carbonated warm water lower leg immersion in healthy young adults"
- American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: "Mineral water as a source of dietary calcium: acute effects on parathyroid function and bone resorption in young men"
- Mount Sinai: "Calcium"
- Mount Sinai: "Magnesium"
- American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: "Meal effect on magnesium bioavailability from mineral water in healthy women"
- Mayo Clinic: "Magnesium Sulfate"
- Mayo Clinic: "Artificial sweeteners and other sugar substitutes"
- Cleveland Clinic: "Tooth Enamel"
- UChicagoMedicine: "Are sparkling water and hard seltzer bad for you?"