Gone are the days when your only sparkling water options were giant, two-liter seltzer bottles beneath rows of soda at the grocery store: The age of fizzy water has officially arrived. (Fun fact: Sparkling water is actually expected to be a 5.5 billion dollar industry this year.) Now, there are so many bubbly water brands and flavor combinations, picking one is actually borderline overwhelming.
With its wild popularity, the bubble buzz has also brought about some confusion—like, uh, what sparkling water actually is. Are sparkling water, seltzer, and club soda really all the same thing?
Yes, seltzer and sparkling water are essentially the same thing; just plain old water that’s carbonated (a.k.a. made bubbly) with carbon dioxide. Sparkling mineral water, meanwhile, is slightly different. In this case, you’re sipping water from natural springs or wells that contains minerals like sodium and magnesium and is naturally carbonated. Club soda, on the other hand, is plain water that has both minerals and carbon added to it in processing.
Though sparkling water may seem like an across-the-board healthy option, not all brands are created equal. To make sure your fizzy drink is as good-for-you as can be, choose a brand that is low in sodium and contains no added sugars, artificial flavors, or artificial sweeteners, says dietitian Elizabeth Shaw, MS, RDN, CLT, CPT. (A little natural sweetness from real fruit juice is a-okay, though.)
Though many sparkling waters come canned these days, if you choose an option in a plastic bottle, just double check that it’s BPA-free, Shaw says.
Keep your bubbly sips simple by opting for one of the following 11 fizzy water brands—all recommended by dietitians.
What sets Spindrift apart from other sparkling waters: It’s made with real squeezed juice. “It tastes the most ‘natural,’ without any ‘natural flavors’ added in,” says dietitian Alanna Waldron, RD.
With slightly colorful hues (thanks to the juice), Spindrift’s sparking waters are just sweet enough and low in calories. (Flavors range from zero to 15 calories per serving.)
“Similar to other flavored sparkling waters, bubly’s products are unsweetened and caffeine-free,” says dietitian Cara Harbstreet, MS, RD, LD, of Street Smart Nutrition. She loves the brand’s fun packaging—and that they’ve continued to expand their flavor offering.
In addition to boxes of cans at the grocery store, you can also find individual bottles of bubly at lots of convenience stores, when you crave fizz on-the-go.
La Croix is a heavy favorite in the sparkling water world, with some flavors that practically have cult followings. “At one point, it was estimated that the brand held nearly 30 percent of the market share in the seltzer category,” says Harbstreet, who credits its tropical, fruit-forward flavors.
Like many others, the popular brand lists carbonated water, natural flavors, and natural essences as its only ingredients.
4 POLAR 100% Natural Seltzer
Registered dietitians Lyssie Lakatos and Tammy Lakatos Shames love that POLAR is free from any added sugars and sodium. Plus, with 18 flavors (the Cranberry Lime is too good) to choose from, you’ll never get bored with this pick.
While you may think of Perrier as something your parents might order at a fancy restaurant, don’t discount it. “It’s calorie-free and keeps it simple with just natural spring water, carbon dioxide and natural flavors,” say Lakatos and Lakatos Shames. “With so many waters sneaking in added sugar, we like that this one doesn’t.”
While Waldron (who is based in New York City) admits she may be biased, she loves this “New York” seltzer water for its serious bubbles. “I always drink this brand when I want a heavily carbonated beverage without any added sugars,” she says.
The only ingredients in this pick: carbonated water and organic natural flavors. “It’s an added bonus that Simple Truth is organic, because some brands ‘natural’ ingredients are actually chemically derived,” say Lakatos and Lakatos Shames.
While Zevia is best known for its stevia-sweetened soda, don’t overlook their sparkling waters. Harbstreet is a fan of their Cucumber-Lemon flavor and the fact that Zevia’s waters are free from phosphoric acid, which is often used to give beverages tangy flavor. “This means Zevia is a good option for people who may not be able to enjoy products containing phosphate, calcium, or potassium additives, like those with renal disease,” Harbstreet says.
Waldron is a long-time fan of Poland Spring’s sparkling water. “Their sparkling water tastes very crisp and the flavors are subtle, without any artificial aftertaste,” she says. “I also find them to be one of the most reasonably priced sparkling waters on the market.”
10 San Pellegrino Sparkling Natural Mineral Water
Harbstreet loves San Pellegrino because of its wide range of options. “I can opt for the mineral water if I want something bubbly without being overwhelmed with fizz,” she says. When she’s craving something sweeter, she’ll go for one of Pellegrino’s fruit-flavored beverages, which are like sparkling juices.
11 Kirkland Signature Flavored Sparkling Water
Shaw says this brand is one of her family’s favorites. “Not only is it budget-friendly, but it’s also made without artificial sweeteners or a laundry list of ingredients,” she says. “I like the three staple flavors—lime, lemon and grapefruit—over some of the more exotic ones you’ll find in other variety packs.”
Plus, you can’t beat Costco’s return policy: If you aren’t 100% satisfied, you can return it for free!