Water is pretty straightforward. That is until you realize that you can not only drink tap water, filtered water, spring water or natural mineral water, but you can also buy sparkling water, seltzer water, tonic water or club soda. Are you confused by the differences? You're not the only one!
Sparkling water can be any water that is carbonated, which means that seltzer water, tonic water and club soda (or soda water) are in fact, sparkling water. Sparkling water can be created naturally from certain mineral springs or artificially with carbon dioxide cartridges or tanks. You can now buy flavored sparkling waters, which may or may not contain calories and sugars depending on what ingredients or sweeteners are added.
Seltzer water is sparkling water with no other added ingredients; just water and carbon dioxide, creating a nice clean taste. It gets its name from the German town, Selters, which is known for its natural springs. Since nothing is being added, it has zero calories. Club soda, on the other hand, is very similar to seltzer except that mineral-like ingredients, which could be sodium or sodium bicarbonate are added. It, too, has zero calories. Seltzers and club sodas can make crowd-pleasing punch, but they can also bring some life into your lemonade, green tea or fruit juice. Get even more adventurous and try herbs with fruits or veggies in your drink, such as mint with slices of cucumber, or basil with strawberries.
Tonic water, on the other hand, isn't actually considered to be water; it's labeled as a soft drink. Quinine, a naturally occurring alkaloid known for its medicinal properties, is added creating a bitter flavor. It's most notable for its pairing with gin, creating a popular mixed drink. One 16-ounce bottle of tonic water has 166 calories and 43 grams of sugar making it a poor choice for the health-conscious. Who knew water could be so complicated!
½ cup 100 percent fruit juice (orange, grape, cranberry or any flavor you like)
½ cup club soda
Pour fruit juice in a tall cup. Add club soda. Add some ice. Stir it up and enjoy!
Yield: 1 serving
Source: University of Missouri Extension
Nutritional analysis per serving: 60 calories, 0 grams fat, 0 milligrams sodium, 14 grams carbohydrate, 0 grams fiber, 1 gram protein
Smith, a registered dietitian, is a nutrition and wellness educator for the University of Illinois Extension, McLean County. Contact her at 309-663-8306.