Remember when water was just water? Neither do we.
Not only are there different flavors, there are different types of water that claim to deliver something plain ol’ tap water won’t give you. Here are some of the trendier options you’ll find on the shelves today and what they offer in terms of healthy hydration.
- Sparkling water Water with added carbonation, which is fine in moderate amounts but may contribute to tooth decay and digestive issues for some consumers. Mineral water, which is often carbonated, must have a certain amount of mineral content at the source that may provide a small nutritional benefit.
- Alkaline (pH-balanced) water This is water that’s been alkalized to make it less acidic, which limited research suggests may be more effective at hydration and help with some digestive issues.
- Electrolyte water Water is enhanced with electrolytes (minerals that carry an electric charge, in this case potassium and sodium) that may help keep fluid levels stable after intense exercise or activity in high temperatures.
- Oxygen water Oxygen is added to this water during the bottling process. It’s not harmful but has not been proven to have any added benefits.
- Raw water Expensive, hard to find and untreated, this is water taken directly from a stream or other natural source and could contain harmful bacteria, parasites or other harmful organisms.
- Naturally flavored, sugar-free, noncarbonated water. Products falling into this category include Frozen Garden fruit-herbal cubes and JUST water, the latter of which is flavored with “fruit essences,” an FDA-approved form of sweetener made from vapor formed after fruit and vegetable skins or other food matter is heated.
- Sparkling, naturally flavored, sugar and artificial sweetener-free waters — many popular brands in this group including Polar, La Croix, Waterloo and Perrier are calorie-free and also flavored with “fruit essence” or similarly vague natural flavors. A few others, including Spindrift and Drink Simple sparkling maple water, use specified natural sweeteners that add a few calories per serving.