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Giving up soda can be a tough task, especially when you're used to having it every day. What else will you drink with that burger and fries? Or pizza? Or even your sad desk lunch?
But while saying goodbye to soda is rough, when you think about how much sugar and artificial ingredients are lurking inside that can or bottle, it might make you want to cut back on that habit. According to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, there are 4.2 grams of sugar in a single teaspoon, and a typical can of soda has about seven to 10 teaspoons. Just picture that amount of sugar in a glass. The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends you limit added sugar to no more than 10 percent of your daily caloric intake, which is about 12 teaspoons on a 2000-calorie diet.
Per the CDC, drinking sugar-sweetened beverages is associated with weight gain/obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, non-alcoholic liver disease, tooth decay and cavities, and gout.
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Now that you know about the scary downsides of soda and want to limit your intake, you might be wondering where to start. Well, if you like the tingles of carbonation, the Mayo Clinic suggests trying club soda, seltzer, or sparkling water with a splash of fruit juice or adding a slice of lemon or lime to your water. Luckily, there are so many different varieties of seltzer and soda water out there that will still give you the fizziness and flavor of soda without the crazy amounts of sugar. Plain old water is always the best choice of beverage, but when that doesn't sound exciting to you, fizzy water would be a good go-to. Just make sure to read the labels before buying to check for added sugar levels and artificial ingredients.
And if you're wondering what carbonated drinks do your teeth, the American Dental Association says that sparkling water is generally fine for your teeth, according to research. The Association cautions that some seltzers have higher acid levels, like citrus-flavored ones, that can increase the risk of damage to your enamel. They suggest consuming in one sitting instead of sipping throughout the day.
Take a look at some of our favorite healthy carbonated beverages below:
Spindrift is a favorite for a lot of our editors. There's no sugar added in each can; it's made with fresh juices, and its ingredients list isn't very long (which is a good sign).
Bubly has a lot of flavors including lime, grapefruit, blackberry, peach, and apple. Plus, it contains zero calories and zero sugars.
Kombucha also gives you that bubbly taste—not to mention it also contains probiotics, which might help with your gut health. One of our favorite brands is Health-Ade (and my personal favorite flavor is Pink Lady Apple). Of course, with kombucha you'll be getting a little bit more sugar (seven grams) and calories (40), but the levels aren't sky-high.
San Pellegrino is a classic. This one has a hint of lemon flavor, which can help if you miss lemon-lime soda. There are also other delicious-sounding flavors like tangerine and wild strawberry and dark Morello cherry and pomegranate. Each can has zero calories and 50 milligrams of calcium.
Another mainstay, Perrier is a great-tasting carbonated alternative to soda. We like grapefruit the best, but there's also lime, peach, strawberry, watermelon, and orange. One can has zero calories and zero sugars.
Olipop is another new favorite with our editors. The sparkling tonic contains ingredients that experts believe can support digestion and gut health. Some ingredients you'll find are marshmallow root, which herbalists believe can relieve mild digestive discomfort; Nopal cactus, which is high in fiber, antioxidants, and carotenoids; and Kudzu root, which acts as a prebiotic. This drink contains a lot more ingredients than the seltzers and has 30 calories and two grams of sugar per can.
Polar Seltzer has its own following of mega-fans, too. With plenty of flavors, like pomegranate, black cherry, cranberry clementine, and Georgia peach, there's something for every palate. It contains zero calories and zero sugars.
Revive's sparkling version is like if kombucha married sparkling water. You get the best of both worlds—probiotics and a bubbly sip. There are a few different flavors: Mango orange, cherry hibiscus, strawberry lemon, and citrus ginger. Each can has five grams of sugar and 20 calories.
Providing just a "hint" (get it?) of flavoring, this sparkling water is another option. Like many of the other seltzers on this list, a bottle of Hint contains no sugars or calories.
Okay, okay, you might be thinking, This is just plain; it has zero flavor. How is that supposed to be a soda alternative? Hear us out: You can customize plain sparkling water with whatever you want. Think of it as drinker's choice. Put your own citrus, berry, cucumber, etc., in to create a flavor you like. Honestly, though, we could drink classic Topo Chico as is every single day.