Better Choices: Sparkling Water vs. Soda

Soda (or pop, depending on where you live) has no place whatsoever in a healthy diet. Research clearly shows that the growing trend in obesity within the United States is heavily linked to an increased consumption of sugary beverages like soda. 

However, quitting soda can be a hard habit to break, as they certainly are addictive. Many people struggle with simply replacing water for soda or sugary drinks, which is why sparkling water mixed with fresh lemon juice can make for an excellent substitution. Clean, plain water is extremely important, but sparkling water with lemon is great for when you are craving something that feels more like a treat.  

Dangers of Soda and Sugary Beverages 

According to the same Harvard research studies linked to above, check out some of the startling statistics on obesity and soda consumption: 

  • Soda and sugary drinks make up at least 9% of the typical American diet. 
  • While an average soda serving back in the 1950s was 6.5 ounces, that has now risen to 20 or even 42 ounces. 
  • 1 in 4 people in the United States get 200 calories or more per day from sugary drinks. 
  • Sugary drinks and sodas are linked to increased risks of type 2 diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. 

Is All Sparkling Water Created Equal? 

Carbonated water is not all created equal, and choosing the healthiest one can be a bit tricky. Carbonated water is simply water that has been infused with carbon dioxide gas under pressure, and then is turned into any number of drinks known as:

  • sparkling water 
  • seltzer water 
  • tonic water 
  • fizzy water 
  • soda water   
  • club soda  

Aside from seltzer water, most have had a bit of salt added for taste, and some also include other minerals. 

You also have mineral and naturally sparkling waters (like San Pellegrino, for example), which are from natural mineral springs and often also carbonated.  

The best options for sparkling water are the natural ones, as many have added sugars (like tonic water, for example, which should be avoided).  

Studies show that natural, sparkling water offers the benefit of increased fullness (and therefore may help with weight loss), and also could help relieve constipation and other types of digestive distress.  

Again, sparkling water should not replace plain water, but it can definitely be part of a healthy diet, and is worlds better than soda and sugary beverages. 

Benefits of Lemon Juice 

Adding fresh-squeezed lemon juice to your sparkling water not only adds a delicious taste, but also offers some great health benefits. Check out the following: 

Promotes Healthy Digestion 

Natural sparkling water can also potentially help with digestion; adding lemon to it makes it that much more powerful. Lemons are high in the soluble fiber pectin, which has been shown to improve gut health and digestion. For maximum digestive benefits, also add a bit of the lemon rind and pulp to your sparkling water along with the juice.  

Prevents Kidney Stones 

Lemon juice has also been shown to increase the acidity level (pH) of urine along with overall urine volume, which makes it harder for kidney stones to form. Studies show that 4 ounces (about ½ cup) of lemon juice per day can be extremely effective in preventing kidney stone formation. 

Supports Weight Loss 

Also thanks to the fiber content of lemons, they are a great food to include for weight loss. Pectin has been shown to increase levels of fullness, and other studies have also found that the polyphenols found in lemons can work to prevent weight gain.  

Improves Cardiovascular Health 

Lemons are extremely high in the antioxidant vitamin C, providing about 50 mg per lemon (more than 50% of the daily recommended intake). Multiple studies have found that eating vitamin C-rich foods is important for heart health, as it reduces your risk of stroke and heart disease. Lemons also contain other unique plant compounds that work to support cardiovascular health.  

The Verdict 

Given the frightening realities of a diet that includes regular consumption of soda and sugary drinks, sparkling water with fresh lemon juice makes for a far superior choice. Make sure to opt for a natural brand that has no added sugars, and simply squeeze the juice of a fresh lemon into your glass. Simple, easy and tasty.