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Take a walk down the soft drink aisle at your grocery store and you’ll see the typical colas and lemon-lime sodas that we all know, plus sports drinks, iced teas and juices — most of which are loaded with sugar or artificial sweeteners. But you’ll also see colorful cans and bottles of sparkling water — the fizzy, sugar-free alternative to sodas.

Sparkling water, also called seltzer, has increased in popularity in past years as many people cut sugar from their diets to improve their health. It’s a good stepping-stone for so many of us that like the fizz and flavor of soda but don’t want the calories. But rather than guzzling sparkling water all day, you may want to proceed with caution.

“Sparkling water is free from sugar and artificial sweeteners commonly found in sodas; however, there may be other ingredients in your sparkling water that are bad for your teeth and gums,” said registered dietitian nutritionist Kim Segiel, RDN, LDN, Geisinger Wyoming Valley in Wilkes-Barre.

Pressurized carbon dioxide is what gives carbonated or sparkling water its fizzy property. The process of adding carbon dioxide to water creates carbonic acid, which increases the acidity of the drink and lowers the pH level, compared to tap water. Over time, drinking a lot of sparkling water could erode the enamel of your teeth. 

In addition to carbonic acid, some sparkling waters include citric acid to give the beverage its lemon or lime flavor. This can further increase the acidity and lower the pH level. Adding your own lemon or lime slice to plain sparkling water is a less-acidic way to give your water a little bit of flavor.

However, you may want to refrain from completely replacing your flat bottled or tap water with sparkling water.

“If you’re going to sip on a beverage all day, it’s better to drink regular water than sparkling water because of the added acidity,” said Segiel. “You should stick to the ‘everything in moderation’ rule and make sparkling water an occasional treat, perhaps only during meals.”

It’s also important to note that not all clear, fizzy beverages are created equal. Some drinks that look like sparkling water and proclaim they are zero calories are packed with artificial sweeteners. And others, such as bottled club soda, contain sodium. Before you add something to your cart, be sure to look at the label. 

“The bottom line is most of these drinks are much healthier than a cola, but they’re not quite as healthy as drinking plain water,” said Segiel.