Water is crucial for health since it makes up more than two-thirds of your body weight. Without water, your organs and cells would not function, and after a few days, you would die of dehydration. Flavored water can be a fun, tasty way of getting enough fluid into your daily diet, but some bottled flavored waters are high in additives, all of which can affect the overall nutritional value of the drink. Unsweetened, infused waters -- either bottled water flavored with fruit essences or make-it-yourself plain water flavored with fresh fruits -- are the healthiest flavored water choices.
Watch the Sweeteners
Many flavored waters are sweetened -- either with added sugars or artificial sweeteners -- to make the taste of the water more palatable. The American Heart Association states that added sugars are a primary contributor to obesity and so should be consumed in moderation. While artificially sweetened waters are considered safe for moderate consumption, consuming large quantities of artificial sweeteners such as sorbitol may lead to some side effects, such as diarrhea. In general, avoid any flavored water that contains sugar or artificial sweeteners.
Watch the Additives
Be wary of choosing flavored waters with added nutrients like vitamins and minerals. You run the risk of overconsuming your needed nutrients by drinking too much “enhanced” flavored water. This is especially true if you are already taking dietary supplements or include a large quantity of vitamin-enriched foods in your diet. You should meet your nutritional needs through a healthy, balanced diet rather than through supplements added to flavored waters. If you are concerned about your vitamin intake, consult with a medical professional for nutritional changes rather than relying on flavored water to meet your dietary needs.
Sodium and Flavored Water
Many sparkling flavored waters, such as seltzer-based flavored waters, also contain added sodium. A diet high in sodium is associated with increased blood pressure, and most Americans already have a diet that is too high in sodium. While sodium is an electrolyte and can be lost through sweat, most people will not need to replenish their sodium stores through drinks. According to the American Council on Exercise, you only need to replenish sodium stores if you have salt stains on your clothing from sweat or if you are participating in high-intensity exercise for more than 45 to 60 minutes. In general, avoid flavored waters that contain sodium.
Choose Natural Flavoring Methods
The healthiest and most cost-effective way to flavor water is to do it on your own, at home. Using pure, filtered drinking water, you can mix and match your favorite fruits to infuse your water with a light flavor. Simply leave slices of fresh fruit inside a jug of water for an hour or two so that the water picks up the taste of the fruit. Common choices include slices of lemons, limes and oranges, pieces of apple, chunks of watermelon or slices of fresh cucumber.
- Shape: Are Flavored Waters Diet Soda in Disguise?
- American Heart Association: Added Sugars
- Colorado State University: Sodium and the Diet
- Harvard School of Public Health: Healthy Drinks
- American Council on Exercise: Healthy Hydration
- Kids Health: Sports and Energy Drinks -- Should Your Child Drink Them?
- Photo Credit bhofack2/iStock/Getty Images
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