We asked Brooklyn–based dietitian Maddie Pasquariello, MS, RDN, to share the key pros and cons of these ubiquitous bubbly bevs.
Is sparkling water good for you?
To start, Pasquariello notes that sparkling water is equally as hydrating as still water. If you don’t love the taste of regular H2O and/or struggle to meet your daily hydration needs, sparkling water can very well be a valid part of your daily drink lineup. “Water is essential to life and day-to-day functioning, so anything that can help you boost your hydration levels is a win in my book,” says Pasquariello.
However, Pasquariello says that research on the health benefits of sparkling is mixed and often contradictory, particularly when it comes to digestion. “Some studies have shown a minor enhancement of digestion, while others have suggested that consumption of sparkling water in large quantities could promote certain symptoms associated with GI conditions like gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), mainly due to the intake of large quantities of carbon dioxide,” she explains. Yet according to a 2009 review, “the epidemiological studies available do not sustain a causal relationship between regular drinking of carbonated beverages and gastroesophageal reflux disease.” The jury still seems to be out on this front, and how beneficial (or detrimental) sparkling water is for digestive health will likely vary from one person to the next.
In addition, one small study in postmenopausal women investigated the intake of a low-mineral water versus carbonated mineral water rich in sodium, bicarbonate, and chloride. Participants consumed one liter of the control water daily for two months, followed by one liter of the carbonated water daily for two months. By the end of the study, researchers found that carbonated water intake led to a 6.8 percent decrease in total cholesterol, a 14.8 percent decrease in LDL-cholesterol levels, and an 8.7 increase in HDL-cholesterol concentration compared to the control period. Based on these results, carbonated water may be beneficial to prevent cardiovascular disease (CVD) and metabolic syndrome.
“The researchers acknowledged that the improvement they saw may be specifically due to the additional intake of sodium, as the women initially presented with relatively low sodium in their diets,” Pasquariello says. While excess salt intake is known to elevate blood pressure and increase the risk for CVD, she mentions that significant dietary salt restriction can also cause adverse effects for cardiovascular health.
“As always, it’s all about having the right balance,” says Pasquariello.
Is it safe to drink sparkling water daily?
If you don’t experience digestive distress from drinking sparkling water—and given that it boosts hydration and shows promise to promote cardiovascular health—is it A-okay to drink it every day… or even multiple times a day?
“The main concern I’d flag is the possibility of erosion of tooth enamel, which is something that has been studied fairly significantly in-vitro,” Pasquariello says. It primarily boils (err… bubbles?) down to the acidity of your sparkling water of choice. “Bottled or canned sparkling water has a pH between 4.9 and 5.5, while bottled still water is typically between 6.9 and 7.5. A pH level of 5.5 is needed to demineralize tooth enamel, and it is thought that if you are drinking sparkling water multiple times a day, every single day, over the course of years, you could be at a higher risk.”
“The main concern I’d flag is the possibility of erosion of tooth enamel, which is something that has been studied fairly significantly in-vitro,” Pasquariello says.
Pasquariello says this risk is heightened if you sip sparkling water slowly and/or regularly throughout the day—i.e., by exposing your teeth to an acidic environment too often—as well as if your diet is low in calcium and if your carbonated bevs contain added sugar.
If you do choose to continue your sparkling water habit, Pasquariello suggests being mindful of your calcium intake and prioritizing sparkling water with no or minimal added sugar—both of which will support oral (and overall) health.
The bottom line
In sum, sparkling water has some compelling pros and potential cons. Based on research to date, drinking up on it is unlikely to sway the needle too far in any direction—yet people with digestive issues and those who consume high quantities daily may want to take extra caution to ensure that their sips will work for and not against them.
“Overall, my guidance would be to look for brands that offer less acidic options,” Pasquariello advises, in addition to ditching varieties with sugar in favor of those with natural fruit. She also suggests sipping on it for shorter periods of time, alternating between still and sparkling, and reducing your intake if you (and your dentist) are concerned about enamel erosion.