Sparkling Water vs. Pop

I get asked about this quite a bit and I thought it was about time I wrote about it. I figure if people are asking me, then you too might be wondering.

We all know that drinking pop isn’t a great idea. We know that it is high in sugar, a source of caffeine and it has an ingredient list that takes us back to the early days of phonetic reading. We are left wondering if we are about to drink a cola or a science experiment.

One can of pop, often packs a whopping 10 teaspoons of sugar! Additional concerns circle around artificial flavours and colours. But, did you know though that drinking pop can also have an impact on bone health?

According to research conducted by, The Framingham Osteoporosis Study, consuming cola does contribute to low bone mineral density. The reason for this is the effect of caffeine, phosphorus and carbonic acid on your skeletal system. Obviously the impact increases with consumption rate.

Given all this, I believe there is good reason to consider switching out that bubbly drink for a better option. The obvious solution from a nutritionists perspective is to just drink more water. Water is the best form of hydration on a daily basis. Most of us spend a large majority of our day in a slightly dehydrated state. Did you know that feeling thirsty occurs once we have already entered into a state of mild dehydration?

I digress. Back to the topic at hand. We do seem to like to drink bubbles. What are our options though? Flavour sparkling water and a home carbonated beverage system seems like a great idea. But is it really?

First of all, naturally flavoured sparkling water may not be exactly what you think. The term, ‘natural flavours,’ is really rather a loose definition for an additive that often contains multiple chemicals and processes. This makes it very similar to an artifical flavour in the end. For more on this, read the Environmental Working Groups report here.

In terms of the home carbonated systems, lets look at the pros and cons:

Pros

  • ability to use 100% fruit juice for flavour
  • can choose a glass container
  • less sugar than pre-made pop

Cons

  • ingredient lists can include multiple sugars, and artificial flavours
  • gives the impression of being healthier without necessarily being so
  • cost – syrups and cartridges add up quickly
  • kids, and adults for that matter will likely consume more carbonated drinks just because it is fun to make; this could translate in more sugar and artificial ingredients in your diet on a regular basis

 

The Verdict

My personal view would be to skip the added appliance in the kitchen and make my own sparkly drinks using a few easy to access items.

First, decide on your bubbles.

Tonic Water – bubbles with added sugar, not as much as a flavoured soda but there is still quite a bit of sugar

Club Soda – bubbles with added sodium

Sparkling Water – plain water with bubbles; this would be my preference

 

Next, add some flavour:

  • lemon slices
  • lime wedges and mint, muddle together to release a more intense flavour
  • cucumber and raspberries
  • a splash of 100% fruit juice

 

It may take a little while to re-train your taste buds to enjoy the natural flavours of fruit in sparkling water, however it is something that I believe is worth the effort. Over time, your taste buds will become more sensitive and will appreciate the depth of truly natural flavours without the added sugars. In fact, you may find yourself shocked by the sickening sweetness of a regular soda in time. And, just for the record, artificially sweetened beverages get a big, ‘X,’ in my books. That topic my friends, is a whole other blog post!

Have fun experimenting and share your favourite special bevvie recipes with us in the comments below!