Choosing flavored water is a simple and delicious way to increase fluid intake.
Drinking flavored water instead of sugar and calorie-laden beverages, like sweet tea and soda, is a healthy swap. High sugar intake is related to the development of several chronic diseases (obesity, diabetes, elevated lipid levels, cardiovascular disease, inflammation, and cavities).1,2
Many types of flavored water are available. Some have sugar added to them and are comparable to soda. Choosing water without added sugars can be a refreshing change to plain water without the risks associated with excess sugar intake.
What is Flavored Water?
Flavored water is plain water with flavors added to enhance the taste. These added flavors may be natural or artificial.
Flavored water is considered a type of bottled water that is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA regulates all bottled water products to ensure it is safe, wholesome and truthfully labeled.3
Flavored water can span a variety of products. Products include sparkling or carbonated water and waters made with artificial sweeteners or with only natural sweeteners or flavors. They may be no-calorie or low-calorie versions, but be aware that higher-calorie options exist.
Is Flavored Water Healthy?
We all know that drinking enough water daily is essential for optimum health. Hydration levels also impact temperature regulation, physical performance, cognitive performance, gastrointestinal, heart, and kidney function, headaches, skin, and the management of chronic diseases.4 Flavored water may help you to drink more water.
If you are not drinking adequate water daily, trying flavored water to meet your goal can have positive effects.
The American Heart Association advises that adults who habitually consume sugary beverages are more likely to switch to low-calorie artificially sweetened drinks initially. Often these individuals find water undesirable. Additionally, experts advised that they try unsweetened flavored water over artificially sweetened beverages for even more health benefits.5
Benefits of Water and Unsweetened Flavored Water Intake4:
- Prevents dehydration
- Promotes healthy kidney and heart function
- Improves cognitive function and alertness
- Aids in weight-loss
- Boosts physical performance
- Improves skin
- Improves digestion and prevents constipation
- Prevents headaches
Is flavored sparkling water good for you?
Flavored sparkling water is made by adding pressurized carbon dioxide to water. This provides the fizz in your sparkling water.
A one-year study comparing carbonated beverages to non-carbonated beverage intake among rats found increased weight gain and ghrelin hormone levels in the rats drinking carbonated beverages. Ghrelin causes hunger and increased appetite.6
Additionally, they found that ghrelin levels were increased in 20 healthy human males after drinking carbonated beverages compared to non-carbonated drinks.6
Some flavored sparkling waters contain added sugars and alternative sweeteners for the sweet taste and use chemicals and extracts to replicate natural flavors. Check the water’s label to determine if added sugars or alternative sweeteners, like stevia, sucralose, or aspartame, have been added. Steer clear of added sugars and alternative sweeteners for the healthiest flavored water.
If you enjoy the taste of unsweetened sparkling water, you can still enjoy them in moderation. Drinking a handful of cans per week is generally okay. If you have increased appetite and hunger, switch to naturally flavored water.
Artificial vs. Natural Flavorings and Blood Sugar Control
Many flavored waters use artificial sweeteners or added sugars. Added sugars are harmful to your health and assist in developing diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and obesity.1 Artificial sweeteners are associated with insulin resistance, obesity, and unfavorable gut microbiota.2
Artificially Sweetened Flavored Water Nutrition Profile7:
- 0 calories
- 0 g protein
- 0 g fat
- 0 g carbohydrate
- Artificial Sweeteners: aspartame, acesulfame potassium
Naturally Sweetened Flavored Water Nutrition Profile8:
- 0 calories
- 0 g protein
- 0 g fat
- 0 g carbohydrate
- No Artificial Sweeteners
There are no risks of adverse effects of naturally sweetened flavored water on glucose management. Research has linked insulin resistance and obesity to the intake of artificial sweeteners. These drinks are still healthier than sugar-sweetened beverages but should be limited due to artificial sweeteners.
Can Infused Water Drinks Help Lower Blood Sugar?
You can skip the confusion at the store and make your own infused flavored water at home. Infused water is simply adding fruits, vegetables, or herbs to plain water and allowing the flavors to infuse into the water for several hours. This eliminates any use of carbonation, added sugar, or alternative sweeteners.
Infused water is a healthy way to flavor your water that will last about 3 to 4 days in your refrigerator.9 You can make it even easier by purchasing an infuser water pitcher with a compartment for the fruit, vegetables, or herbs, eliminating the need to strain before drinking.
Alternatively, a glass mason jar with a lid will make infused water, but you may want to strain out the fruits, vegetables, or herbs before drinking.
The number of carbohydrates and calories that transfer to the water is minimal. The average sweetened beverage contains about 40 g of carbohydrates from added sugars, leading to a quick spike in your blood sugar. Infusing water provides a tasty, natural drink that will not raise blood sugar levels.
4 Fruit-Infused Water Recipes Ideas
Infusing your water with fruit is an excellent option for those who avoid plain water due to its taste. Basil and mint complement fruit well for infused water. Other herbs and spices like cinnamon, vanilla, ginger, and even jalapenos will naturally flavor water.
Fresh fruit and herbs will provide the best flavor for your water. Cutting the fruit and herbs into smaller slices or pieces allows more flavor to infuse into the water. You will also infuse some vitamins and minerals into the water as they permeate overnight in your fridge.
Most infused waters taste best the longer they infuse. Overnight infusions allow for the most flavor, but shorter time frames can work if you are in a hurry. Infused water lasts for about three to four days in the refrigerator.
- Strawberry + Basil Infused Water
The sweet flavors of strawberry and basil are refreshing. Strawberries are high in vitamin C.
Combine 5-6 quartered strawberries with a small bunch of torn basil and add 6 cups of water. Let it infuse overnight in the refrigerator.
- Peach + Mint Infused Water
Peach-infused water is reminiscent of summertime. Peaches are antioxidant-rich.
Cut the peach slices into ½ inch slices and roughly tear the mint. Place these in 6 cups of water. Infuse for four to five hours in the refrigerator to allow the mint to absorb into the water.
- Lemon + Mint Infused Water
All citrus fruits taste excellent with mint. This refreshing drink can be put over ice. Lemons are known for their antioxidant capacity and can help with weight loss by improving insulin resistance and glucose levels.10
Slice a lemon into ¼ inch slices and roughly tear one bunch of mint. Add 6 cups of water and allow four to five hours of infusion.
- Blueberry + Cucumber Infused Water
Cucumbers add a spa-like feel to your beverages. Blueberries are a superfood due to their high antioxidant content, which helps to reduce inflammation in the body.11
Take ½ cup of blueberries and cut them in half. Then add a small cucumber and slice it into ¼-inch slices. Place all ingredients into 6 cups of water and sit for about four hours in the refrigerator.
You can find more recipes, healthy eating, and lifestyle habits on Signos’ blog. Take some time to read more evidence-based nutrition information and make even more changes.
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