Is la croix healthy?

As popular as LaCroix is—and people are downing seltzer from those kitschy, pastel-colored cans at a rate of around 170 million gallons a year—chances are, you’re not pounding bubbly water while on a bike. In fact, most athletes aren’t guzzling fizzy drinks that often (unless it’s a classic Coke to ward off a bonk or a bubbly water at the end of a long ride).

But sparkling waters, such as LaCroix, Topo Chico, and Perrier, are a fun way to shake up the monotony of flat water without introducing a ton of sugar or other questionable ingredients into your diet. Even the CDC recommends drinking sparkling water as a healthy alternative to soda and other high-calorie beverages.

Is being deemed a healthy alternative to sugary sodas enough to make seltzer a healthy hydration choice, though? And do all those negative reports about LaCroix hold up? Here’s what you need to know.

Is Seltzer Even Hydrating?

Every athlete knows the importance of hydrating—before, during, and after a ride. With all those bubbles, are LaCroix and other sparkling waters as good as flat water? The short answer: Yes. “Like plain water, it’s calorie-free (or very low calorie when flavors are added), it’s equally hydrating (or rehydrating) on a volume basis to plain water, and it tends to be more filling (due to its accompanying gas),” explains M. Ramin Modabber, M.D., the chief medical officer of the AMGEN Tour of California.

When the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition compared still, sparkling, and other popular drinks (cola, juices, beer, coffee, tea and milk), they found that there was no difference between them in terms of hydration. And another study comparing the drinking habits of carbonated water consumers and non-carbonated water consumers found that those who drank bubbly water actually had a slightly higher total intake of water—so it just might help you drink a little more.

If your choice is between bubbly water or nothing, pop that can—seltzer is just as hydrating as H2O, and it’ll do the job if you need to hydrate.

But Is Seltzer Like LaCroix Healthy?

LaCroix Sparkling Water (24 Cans) La Croix amazon.com $18.65

Seltzer in its most basic form is just tap water plus carbonation. NBD. But flavored seltzers—like LaCroix’s pamplemousse (grapefruit) flavor—are a little more complicated. After all, something needs to give it that flavor. On LaCroix’s website, the brand credits its flavors to “all-natural…essences or oils derived from the named fruit, i.e., lime/lime oils.” Otherwise, the company has been notoriously mum about what’s actually in its drinks.

A recent lawsuit, though, claimed LaCroix uses synthetic ingredients, like limonene, which can cause kidney toxicity and tumors, and linalool, which is also used in cockroach insecticide. But here’s the deal: Limonene is classified by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) as a “naturally occurring chemical,” and generally recognized by the FDA as safe; it’s only been linked to kidney toxicity in male rats. And linalool, according to the NIH, “is a naturally occurring terpene alcohol chemical found in many flowers and spice plants.”

In October 2018, an International Standards Organization-accredited lab tested ingredients provided by LaCroix and confirmed that they were derived from natural sources, such as fruit. “The fact that there’s a plant-derived ingredient in seltzer that also happens to be in an insecticide does not make the ingredient a problem,” says Lauren Antonucci, R.D.N., a nutrition consultant for the New York Road Runners and director of Nutrition Energy. “If we look at the science, there’s nothing to be worried about.”

That said, if you’re concerned, you can always replace flavored seltzers like LaCroix with plain bubbly waters or simply flavor it yourself with slices of fresh fruit such as lemon, lime, or grapefruit.

What About Other Seltzers?

Let’s go back to chemistry class real quick: Carbonation—what makes a seltzer fizzy—occurs when carbon dioxide dissolves into bicarbonates and carbonic acid. The only word you really need to pay attention to there is acid.

“The pH in seltzer is not quite neutral, and the more you add into these products, the more acidic they can become,” says Antonucci. “Flavors can add citric acid and more carbonic acid, and eventually the acidity can approach close to that of a soda.”

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All that acid isn’t necessarily great for your teeth and bones over the long-term, which is why seltzer gets a bit of a bad rap as being “unhealthy.” But it’s not something to stress over. In a study published in the British Journal of Nutrition, researchers detected no difference in terms of bone density loss between participants who drank 1 liter of carbonated water a day and those who drank 1 liter of still water a day over the course of 8 weeks.

Another study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition proved that carbonation did not leach calcium from bones. And while additional research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition linked cola to lower hip bone density in women, other carbonated drinks like seltzer didn’t have the same affect.

So, Should You Drink It?

Topo Chico Twist of Lime Sparkling Mineral Water Pack of 12 $23.98

Sure! Seltzer spices up plain ol’ tap water and might just inspire you to be better hydrated—and what athlete doesn’t want that? Maybe don’t drink it right before or during a ride, though. “Seltzer’s gas can be immensely disruptive before or during exercise due to gastrointestinal bloating, belching, cramping, etc.,” says Modabber. Not exactly things you want to deal with when you’re in the middle of a ride, right?

As for a refreshing fizzy drink post-ride, you’re all good. Except, remember this: LaCroix, Topo Chico, and other bubbly waters don’t contain sodium or carbohydrates, which are a crucial part of refueling after a workout. “Don’t be fooled by the fact that bubbles taste yummy or that you thought it filled you up,” says Antonucci. “You still need to replenish the salt and the carbs that you burned while out cycling for hours.”

Bottom line: Seltzer is a great substitute for sodas and other meal-time drinks, says Modabber, but probably a poor option before, during, or after strenuous exercise.

Ashley Mateo Ashley Mateo is a writer, editor, and UESCA-certified running coach who has contributed to Runner’s World, Bicycling, Women’s Health, Health, Shape, Self, and more.

Is LaCroix Actually Healthy?

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If you’re reading this, it’s probably because you’re currently obsessed with LaCroix. You’re not alone.

A brand of flavored sparkling waters that has been around since the early 1980s, LaCroix is currently enjoying a massive spike in sales. Several factors have contributed to its increase in popularity, but one seems most significant—the decline of soda. Soda has been perhaps the biggest casualty in America’s war on sugar. Soda consumption has dropped dramatically in recent years as Americans have looked for healthier options. LaCroix offers a fizzy fix that’s as refreshing as soda, but without extreme amounts of calories and sugar. It’s also reportedly a great beverage for anyone who’s trying to give up alcohol—just check out this Reddit thread on the topic.

But is LaCroix really a markedly healthier option? Or is this a classic case of a trendy product’s health benefits getting exaggerated?

There are currently twenty varieties of LaCroix on the market, and they all share the same immaculate nutrition facts: zero calories, zero sugar, zero sodium, zero carbs, zero grams of fat. The ingredients list is similarly barren—each variety has only two ingredients: carbonated water and natural flavor.

Case closed. If LaCroix has no calories and no sugar, it must be good for you, right?

Not so fast.

Diet sodas such as Diet Coke are also devoid of calories and sugar, yet they aren’t without health risks. The artificial sweeteners in diet soda have been shown to have significant effects on the brain. One study found that as a participant’s diet soda consumption increased, an area of his brain known as the “caudate head” diminished in activity. The caudate head plays a role in food motivation and satiety, and it helps send a signal that the sweet taste of sugar equals incoming calories. If this part of the brain isn’t active, your body won’t help you naturally regulate your consumption of sugary snacks. Decreased activity in this area has been linked to an increased risk of obesity.

RELATED: How Can Zero-Calorie Sodas Be Bad For You?

So zero-calorie beverages aren’t always necessarily healthy.

However, LaCroix does not include the same artificial sweeteners found in diet sodas. “We do not add any artificial sweeteners, sugars or sodium to our waters,” the company writes on its website.

Instead, LaCroix uses “natural flavor.” However, those words allow for quite a bit of wiggle room. According to the FDA, a natural flavor is simply something that adds flavor to a product and comes directly from a plant or animal source. It can even include artificial ingredients that preserve flavor or help it mix more efficiently with other natural flavors. “You see ‘natural flavor’ on a label and it’s really a black box of secrecy in terms of what’s being added to that product,” David Andrews, a chemist from the Environmental Working Group, recently told WIRED.

However, LaCroix’s natural flavors seem to be rather straightforward. On its website, the company states, “The flavors are derived from the natural essence oils extracted from the named fruit used in each of our LaCroix flavors. There are no sugars or artificial ingredients contained in, nor added to, these extracted flavors.” That might sound a bit shady, but anyone who’s ever drunk a LaCroix knows the flavoring is quite subtle. If LaCroix’s sweetness was on par with soda, it would make sense to be more skeptical. However, that’s simply not the case.

But there are couple of additional concerns about LaCroix. Sparkling waters contain what’s known as carbonic acid. It’s what gives LaCroix its lovable bubbles. However, it can also be corrosive to tooth enamel. But if you’re a healthy person with good dental hygiene habits, this shouldn’t be a major concern. LaCroix is still much better for your teeth than regular soda. You can also swish regular water around in your mouth after guzzling a can of LaCroix to combat its mild corrosive effects.

The second concern is the fact that LaCroix cans contain Bisphenol A (BPA), an organic synthetic compound used to produce many common plastics. One common use of BPA is in aluminum cans. BPA has been a hot topic in recent years. Animal studies have found that consuming too much of it can have a negative effect on hormone levels and increase cancer risk.

LaCroix states that all of its products meet the guidelines currently set by the FDA. A four-year study completed in 2014 found that BPA is safe at the level currently occurring in foods and beverages. The company also states that although their can linings may contain trace amounts of BPA to preserve and protect the beverage, “these trace amounts are virtually eliminated during the curing process.” LaCroix also offers their products in glass bottles, but they are currently only available in Illinois and Wisconsin.

So, is LaCroix healthy? Based on the factors we’ve outlined, yes. Though plain old water is still the best possible option, LaCroix is a massive upgrade over soda or high-sugar juices. It also hydrates you very similarly to regular water, which can be a huge boost to your overall health. So rejoice, LaCroix lovers. Your favorite beverage is legitimately good for you.

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While you’re probably not hydrating with sparkling water during a long run, few things beat the refreshing taste of a La Croix or Topo Chico after a tough workout. And it’s not just runners enjoying bubbly drinks—the popularity of sparkling waters is growing exponentially. In fact, La Croix’s sales alone jumped from $646 million in 2015 to $827 million in 2017.

Since carbonated water is pretty much everywhere these days, you’ve probably been wondering if it’s even good for you, or if you should stick to flat water instead. So we turned to Rachel Stahl, M.S., a NYC-based registered dietitian and Public Relations Coordinator of the New York Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

The Claim:

Seltzer and sparkling water aren’t as healthy as regular water because carbonation can damage your teeth, dehydrate you, and hinder calcium absorption in your bones. Preliminary evidence also hints at a possible link to weight gain.

The Evidence:

Carbonation gets a bad rap because its bubbles are commonly associated with soda, which gets a failing health grade in a whole range of departments. Yes, soda has been linked to lower bone mineral density, but that’s not because of the carbonation—it’s because of phosphoric acid, something not found in seltzer or sparkling water.

The carbonation and acidity found in seltzer and sparkling water don’t ruin your teeth and erode your enamel, either. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), these drinks are no worse for your teeth than regular, flat water.

And compared to sports drinks and sodas, seltzer and sparkling water were found to be “minimally erosive,” according to a study published in the Journal of the American Dental Association. As for the dehydration claims? One study even found that those who drank more carbonated water were more hydrated than those who didn’t.

Evidence in support of a weight-gain link is still very preliminary. A 2017 study found that rats who drank beverages with carbon dioxide did gain more weight after one year than those who drank regular water, but the research needs to replicated in humans before any practical implications can be considered.

The Verdict:

The consensus of the overall evidence right now says that plain, carbonated water is just as hydrating and healthy for you as regular water. But Stahl cautions that flavored varieties may not pack the same bang for your buck. “Not all carbonated waters are the same,” she says. “Some may have added sugar.”

And if your can of bubbly is sweetened, that’s when you may have to worry about teeth issues, like enamel erosion or the formation of cavities, says Stahl (As well as the potential for weight gain from drinking extra calories from the sugar).

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Because of this, she advises buying seltzers and sparkling waters that have carbonation listed as the only added ingredient. But if you are craving a certain flavor, Stahl recommends adding your own fruit, vegetables, or herbs to plain seltzer. Her go-to? Cucumber and mint. But other tasty options include berries, lemons, limes, oranges, or mangoes.

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If you must reach for something already flavored, a can that lists “natural” flavoring will be a better bet than those that use sugar or artificial sweeteners.

Stahl also notes that for some, carbonation can cause GI distress like feeling bloated or gassy. So if you’re going for a run or doing another type of workout, sticking to plain water for hydration might be a safer bet.

Danielle Zickl Associate Health & Fitness Editor Danielle specializes in interpreting and reporting the latest health research and also writes and edits in-depth service pieces about fitness, training, and nutrition.

This Is Why You Should Stop Drinking LaCroix

This fizzy flavored water has taken over the sparkling beverage market. Because LaCroix is both sugar and calorie-free, and with only a few natural ingredients for flavor, people assume it’s a healthier choice than traditional soda.

And when it comes to your waistline, it is; drinking sweetened beverages like soda—which have over 30 grams of added sugar per can—has been linked to obesity and related complications like type 2 diabetes and heart attacks.

So swapping out a sugary carbonated beverage with something sugar-free is a no-brainer, right? Not quite; it is possible to have too much of a good thing. Like any other sparkling beverage, LaCroix is infused with carbonic acid to give it its effervescence. But what makes it a bubbly drink can wreak havoc on your tooth enamel.

Due to their acidic pH, flavored sparkling waters can be nearly as corrosive as orange juice when exposed to human teeth for just 30 minutes, according to researchers at the University of Birmingham and Birmingham Dental Hospital. In their 2007 study, the researchers concluded: “It would be inappropriate to consider these flavored sparkling waters as a healthy dental alternative to other acidic drinks.” Note: the authors said dental, not nutritious.

It’s important to note that this study was done in a controlled lab setting, and the authors mentioned that the effects of sparkling water on enamel erosion in real life would depend on both the amount of drink consumed and its frequency.

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According to the LaCroix website, the pH level of LaCroix Sparkling Waters varies by flavor, but overall they are less acidic than traditional soft drinks and juice drinks, so this particular brand might not be as bad as the seltzers analyzed in this specific study.

But that doesn’t mean LaCroix is off the hook yet when it comes to being a better-body choice.

Perhaps another reason to lay off this popular sparkling beverage is it could possibly make you hungrier and cause you to gain weight.

A study published in the journal Obesity Research and Clinical Practice found that rats who drank fizzy drinks ate more and gained more weight over a 6-month period than rats who drank flat soda or plain water. The rodents who drank the carbonated beverages had more of the appetite-increasing hormone ghrelin, which can cause you to eat more. However, the researchers noted that weight gain can’t be entirely attributed to fizzy beverages and instead “caused by multiple environmental, social and lifestyle factors, rather than carbonation on its own.”

Bottom line?

When it comes to deciding between a can of sugary soda or a LaCroix, the sparkling water is a much better choice for your overall health: soda makes you gain weight, puts you at risk for several chronic diseases, and destroys your teeth worse than plain old sparkling water. (Hello, cavities!) But like everything in life, LaCroix should be enjoyed in moderation. Drinking a few cans a week is fine; downing one 6-pack a day could spell trouble for your teeth.

Eat This! Tip:

Damien Walmsley, a professor of dentistry at the University of Birmingham in England, told Atlantic reporter Olga Khazan that his advice “is to keep acidic drinks to meal times, and if you have to sip drinks between meals, then plain water is the safest.” And be sure you’re drinking plenty of plain H2O—around 64 ounces (or 8 cups) a day will keep you hydrated, happy, and help boost weight loss.

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Whether you’re trying to slim down or simply maintain your weight, you probably know that what you drink matters just as much as what you eat. Eliminating soda (even diet versions) is a no-brainer, and while you might assume that sparkling water is a safe and harmless substitute, that’s not always the case. In fact, some sparkling waters may indirectly cause you to gain weight.

To be clear, drinking plenty of water is key, whatever your goals – it helps maintain energy levels, assists with digestion, and keeps other parts of your body running smoothly. Sparkling water can help keep you hydrated, and as long as it’s plain and unsweetened, it won’t cause you to gain weight, Brigitte Zeitlin, MPH, RD, CDN, a registered dietitian in New York City, told POPSUGAR.

“The carbonation in the water can cause you to feel bloated and gassy due to the air bubbles, which can make you feel uncomfortable and perhaps like you have gained weight, but it is not a true weight gain,” she said.

Here’s what could potentially shift the number on the scale: added sweeteners, even those that are artificial. Zeitlin explained that these sweeteners can cause your blood sugar levels to rise and then drop, leaving you unsatisfied and craving sweets, a similar effect of drinking diet soda.

“Unnecessary snacking does contribute to weight gain, and of course, what you choose to snack on can contribute even more so to extra pounds,” Zeitlin said. “So, stick to plain sparkling water or seltzer, and if you need some flavor, add a slice of lemon, lime, orange, or cucumber.”

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Disclaimer: Views expressed in this article are the author’s own and MSN does not endorse them in any way. Neither can MSN independently verify any claims made in the article. You should consult your physician before starting any weight loss or health management programme to determine if it is right for your needs.

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Why Your LaCroix Obsession Isn’t So Healthy

Put down that can of key lime LaCroix for a second. We have to talk.

I’ve been asked by Insta-friends and clients alike several times recently: How much La Croix is too much LaCroix? Sorry, but you may not totally love my answer.

Let me first jump off my high nutritionist horse and lead with the good: It’s absolutely a better option than soda, diet or otherwise. In the grand scheme of things, drinking excessive amounts of sparkling water is very far down on my list of concerns with clients at my Foodtrainers NYC office. But if you’ve already cleaned up your diet, are eating veggies and mainly whole foods, pay attention to ingredient labels, and take your health seriously, here are a few factors to consider.

Natural Flavoring

There is a lot of confusion over what “natural flavors” actually means and, in general, I steer very clear foods that include them on the ingredient label. These “natural” flavors are often more similar to “artificial” ingredients, and can sometimes include preservatives. (Related: Whoa! This Company Is Adding Weed to Sparkling Water)

LaCroix’s website says “the flavors are derived from the natural essence oils extracted from the named fruit used in each of our LaCroix flavors. There are no sugars or artificial ingredients contained in, nor added to, these extracted flavors.” I don’t mind this explanation if it’s true and the taste is actually derived from an essential oil (LaCroix didn’t return my emails to confirm).

My main concern is that these intense flavors can make you crave that and expect it every time you grab a drink (plain ol’ tap water is never going to provide that for you). That’s what happens when you overdo it on sugar. Often people who think water is boring (I hear it more than you can imagine) are overdoing heavily flavored foods and drinks.

Carbonation

Not only are all those bubbles not great for your teeth (carbonation comes from CO2, carbon dioxide, which reacts with water to form carbolic acid, which may wear away tooth enamel). It also may not be great for your weight. One study published in the journal Obesity Research and Clinical Practice found that rats that had carbonated drinks ate more and gained more weight over a six-month period than those that drank flat drinks or plain water. The bubbly-bev rats also had more of the appetite-increasing hormone ghrelin, which signals your body to eat more, which can explain the weight gain.

BPA

The thing about LaCroix that scares me the most can actually be found in many packaged products around the supermarket such as other canned beverages or vegetables, and even in your “healthy” protein powder. BPA-based plastics are used to line food and drink cans to protect against metal contamination, but these endocrine disruptors bring on a host of health problems on their own.

Plus, some studies show that BPA can seep into the food and drinks. While LaCroix and other canned product manufacturers are quick to point out that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says BPA is safe at the current levels occurring in food, it’s not something I agree with or would suggest to my clients. FWIW, the state of California, for example, includes BPA in its Proposition 65 list of toxic chemicals that are “known to cause cancer or birth defects or other reproductive harm.”

So, if you don’t want your hormones to be all out of whack—this can cause a host of health problems such as thyroid and metabolism issues, irregular periods, and changes to your mood, energy, or fertility—I’d ditch cans for glass bottles. (And, sorry, no; it doesn’t count if you just pour the canned drink into a glass.) It turns out, LaCroix actually does sell some products in glass bottles, so grab them if you can hunt them down!

So, my answer to the question of how much LaCroix is too much? Ideally, I’d suggest you max out at one or two sparkling water drinks a day, drink them from a glass bottle, and add your own fresh flavoring (slice of lemon, lime, or grapefruit) for an extra boost. My personal favorite (unflavored) brands are Topo Chico, Mountain Valley, and Gerolsteiner. If you cannot live without a little lemon/lime flavor, Spindrift uses real fruit extracts.

This article originally appeared on Shape.com.

Popular sparkling water brand LaCroix sued over ‘all natural’ label

Oct. 6, 201801:09

Unsweetened, flavor-infused water

If you’re looking for hydration but want a little flavor in your water to spice things up, you could just add a few slices of lemon to your water. That was the concept behind Hint water when it was conceived by founder Kara Goldin in 2005. Consumers loved the idea and the company has seen double digit growth each year over the past 13 years.

Infused waters, like Hint, Just Water Infused and Dasani Flavors, start with plain spring or purified water, which is then enhanced with natural fruit flavorings. In the case of Just Water (co-founded by Jaden Smith), they use organic fruit essences. With Hint, the flavors are derived from non-GMO plants. No sweeteners are added to these beverages and they don’t contain calories, making them a good-for-you option if you’re seeking a little extra something.

The verdict?

Many infused waters contain citric acid in their natural flavorings to provide a sour, fruit-forward flavor profile. But citric acid, though natural, creates an acidic environment in your mouth, which can lead to tooth erosion. You can avoid this by not holding the flavored water in your mouth too long and don’t even think about brushing your teeth with this — plain water is definitely your best bet there!

Unsweetened, flavor-infused sparkling water

These popular products, which are flavored with natural flavors (Hint Fizz, Bubly and LaCroix) or fruit juice, as is the case with Spindrift, are combined with carbonated water. These drinks add a pop of flavor and fizz that is refreshing and subtle, without any sweetness.

Bubly is Pepsi’s latest edition to the flavor-infused water craze.Bubly

Spindrift uses various fresh fruit and vegetable juices to add flavor to their fizzy drinks. The amount of fruit juice in Spindrift can range from 5 to 10 percent of the drink, depending on the flavor. The juice adds between one to 15 calories per can. Other than the cucumber flavor, the company says it does not include citric acid in its drinks.

The verdict?

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As is the case with still waters that are infused with fruit flavors, the sparkling varieties can also include citric acid. Carbonated water also contains carbonic acid, which makes the beverage even more acidic, and therefore potentially more damaging to the enamel on your teeth. Enjoy these drinks with meals, which stimulates the flow of saliva, helping to remove the acids from your teeth.

Sweetened, infused water

These waters don’t just boast hints of fruit, they’re also sweet and have very few (or zero) calories. Bai, which was snapped up by Snapple’s parent company in 2016 for $1.7 billion, calls itself an “antioxidant infusion.” And the company also has Justin Timberlake, inventor of the viral “braspberry,” as its “Chief Flavor Officer.”

Along with filtered water and a proprietary, calorie-free sweetener blend of stevia and erythritol, Bai contains fruit juice concentrate, natural flavors, coffee fruit extract, white tea extract, citric acid and sodium citrate — a far cry from the plain stuff coming out of the tap. The coffee fruit provides both caffeine and antioxidants but can be an unwelcome surprise if you’re trying to hydrate before bed. An 18-ounce bottle of Bai Antioxidant Infusion contains 10 calories of infused water.

Bai is sweet and comes in both still and sparkling varieties.

Back to those sweeteners in Bai. The front of the label advertises “No artificial sweeteners.” Stevia is naturally derived from the stevia leaf, but what about that erythritol? It does occur naturally in certain foods, including mushrooms, cherries, asparagus and sweet potatoes, but how is it made in large quantities?

It’s made when a fungi called Moniliella pollinis ferments on corn or wheat. Until the FDA comes up with a definition, the use of the term “natural” on labels is up to the discretion of a brand, so the type of sweetener used in Bai may be a naturally-derived substance — but it’s not naturally occurring.

One of the first brands to make a big splash in this category, Vitamin Water Zero, is still a big player in the space. It contains reverse osmosis water, citric acid, vegetable juice for color, stevia as a sweetener, gum acacia (an emulsifier), plus electrolytes, B vitamins, vitamin C and beta carotene. It contains another ingredient called gum rosin, which is derived from the stump of the longleaf pine and is used as a stabilizer. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has questioned its safety as a food additive.

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The verdict?

Many individuals, especially those with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), are sensitive to sugar alcohols, including erythritol. If you have too much of it, you may develop gas or other gastrointestinal issues. If you’re prone to these types of GI complaints, go easy on drinks sweetened with any type of sugar alcohols.

According to the International Food Information Council (IFIC), a non-profit science communication organization, “Long-term benefits have not been established for sugar alcohols and further research is needed to document their health effects.” If you’re looking for a drink that also has electrolytes or added vitamins, these beverages can be a good choice once in a while. But for everyday hydration, plain water is still your best choice.

Sweetened, flavor-infused sparkling water

When flavor alone isn’t enough, you might need some sparkles to jazz up your water. In that case, there are drinks that have both! Think Sparkling Ice and Bai Bubbles.

Fizz, the freckles of flavor! #GingerLime #EverybodyLovesAGinger # pic.twitter.com/PZXFzBGoj0

— Sparkling Ice® (@SparklingIce) March 12, 2018

Sparkling Ice is a carbonated water that launched long before the flavored water craze took hold. It came out in 1992 and was originally sweetened with high fructose corn syrup. It was later sweetened with Nutrasweet and then updated in 1998 to include Splenda (sucralose). It also contains fruit juice concentrates (but not enough to add calories), green tea extract (but not enough to add caffeine), preservatives, vitamin A, D and several B vitamins.

Bai Bubbles contains the same sweeteners as its still counterpart, as well as juice concentrate, coffee fruit and white tea extract. A serving provides 20 percent of your daily value needs for vitamin C. An 11.5-ounce can contains 5 calories and 45 milligrams of caffeine.

The verdict?

Hydration is great, but you may not want caffeine, too. Also, concern around artificial sweeteners, including sucralose, has grown recently due to a variety of factors. A recent study from George Washington University found that consuming large amounts of artificial sweeteners may be contributing to the obesity epidemic by promoting the accumulation of body fat.

Drinking the occasional, artificially sweetened beverage is fine for most individuals, but it’s not a good idea to consume several in a day.

Caffeinated water

Most folks are happy to drink coffee to perk up and hydrate later with water, but people who want their beverage to do double duty turn to this category. Caffeinated water may contain caffeine that’s been extracted from green, un-roasted coffee beans, or it may come from a combination of ingredients, such as coffee fruit extract and white tea extract (which is what Bai uses in its beverages), or a combination of organic green coffee beans, ginseng and guarana, which is found in Hi-Ball.

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Caffeine content varies from brand to brand. Some have relatively low amounts, like the 30 milligrams found in Bai beverages, which is equivalent to a cup of green tea. You’ll find 60 milligrams in Hint Kick and a whopping 160 milligrams of caffeine in Hi-Ball Sparkling Energy Water, the equivalent of a Grande iced coffee at Starbucks. Other brands in the category include Avitae, Water Joe and Hydrive.

The verdict?

If you read your beverage labels thoroughly and know what you’re getting in terms of caffeine, then these beverages are fine for occasional consumption. However, if you’re simply pulling bottles off the store shelf in a hurry without really analyzing them, you could be getting more than you bargained for. Pregnant women, teens, and anyone with a heart condition should be careful with these beverages and limit the amount of caffeine they consume.

There are so many different ways to hydrate these days — it’s clear we’ve come a long way from watered-down water. If you love fruit flavors and want to try something new, these new beverages can make a great addition to your hydration rotation — just take a few extra seconds to read what’s in the fine print.

Frances Largeman-Roth, RDN, is a nutrition expert, writer, mom of three and best-selling author. Her books include “Feed the Belly,” “The CarbLovers Diet” and “Eating in Color.” Follow her @FrancesLRothRD and check out her website.

This post was originally published on Sept. 13, 2017.

There’s no doubt about it: Americans are hooked on LaCroix seltzer.

So, when a lawsuit was filed last week against the drink’s parent company National Beverage Corp., claiming that LaCroix misled customers by labeling its ingredients as “all natural,” the internet erupted in utter confusion about, or in defense of, the chic seltzer water.

The plaintiff, the law firm Beaumont Costales, is claiming that chemical testing revealed that LaCroix includes ingredients that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considers “synthetic,” such as limonene, linalool propionate and linalool — the latter of which is also found in cockroach insecticide, according to a statement by Beaumont Costales.

Natural Beverage has denied the allegations and said in a statement that “All essences contained in LaCroix are certified by our suppliers to be 100 percent natural.”

But when it comes to food labels, what does “natural” really mean?

The label “‘natural’ is not vigorously defined,” said Gavin Sacks, an associate professor of food science at Cornell University who isn’t involved with the lawsuit. “There’s not a regulatory definition of ‘natural,’ rather there’s a consumer idea of what natural is or feels like.”

Indeed, the FDA notes on its website that it “has not engaged in rulemaking to establish a formal definition for the term” and that it considers the term “natural” to mean “nothing artificial or synthetic (including all color additives regardless of source) has been included in, or has been added to, a food that would not normally be expected to be in that food.”

But definition aside, do LaCroix drinkers need to worry?

Scent of natural ubiquity

Two of the compounds that the lawsuit alleges are in the drink, limonene and linalool, are “widespread in nature and the foods and beverages that people are consuming already,” Sacks said. Linalool, for example, is found in fruit, cinnamon, rosewood and mints, and limonene is found in citrus fruits like oranges and limes.

These two compounds, plus the third mentioned in the lawsuit — linalool propionate — are “aroma compounds.” That means that they’re somewhat volatile and will escape the product and waft up toward your nose. If you squeeze an orange or grate a lime, for example, it will release limonene, Sacks said.

As for linalool propionate, that chemical is found in ginger, lavender and sage oils. In the body, it breaks down in a way similar to linalool, he added.

All of this isn’t to say that at a certain level, the compounds wouldn’t be toxic, Sacks said. As the saying goes, it’s the dose that makes the poison. Just like drugs, there’s a certain limit up to which certain chemicals can be considered safe, he said. And while it’s unclear what concentration of these aroma chemicals is found in these drinks, “companies target concentrations that are already found in foods and beverages,” he said. In other words, nothing you wouldn’t encounter elsewhere.

That’s not “just for safety,” Sacks added. “If you increase the concentration too much, it just smells horrible … It’s not going to smell ‘natural’ anymore.” When you crack open a can, it would smell like you were in a perfume shop instead of drinking seltzer water.

Ultimately, as “long as concentrations being used are comparable to those found in fruits and beverages, it seems unlikely they’re going to be a health concern,” Sacks said. “At the very least, very minor concerns compared to more widely recognized health concerns.”

What’s more, in regard to the company that claims linalool is present in cockroach insecticide, Sacks said that even if that’s true, it’s not the active ingredient in the insecticide. In other words, linalool isn’t the chemical that makes the insecticide toxic to the insects, it’s just added so that the product can have a pleasant smell or mask other unpleasant smells, he said.

There are many ways to create these ingredients: If this “natural flavor” were derived from a nonnatural source such as from a petrochemical, that would be a “tough sell for calling it natural.”

However, an “essence” is typically derived by distillation or separation of the volatile components from some sort of natural product like lemon oil, Sacks said. Indeed, in the statement, National Beverage said that all the natural flavors were derived from essence oils from fruits. There are no added sugars or artificial ingredients, the company wrote.

Originally published on Live Science.

Given the news out there about how bad diet sodas are for you, it’s not surprising that so many people have turned to LaCroix calorie-free sparkling water as an alternative — but is LaCroix bad for you, too? LaCroix’s parent company was sued in an October 2018 class-action lawsuit that alleged the beverage isn’t as “all-natural” as it claims to be.

Beaumont Costales is the law firm suing Natural Beverage Corporation, LaCroix’s parent company. In a statement, lawyers from the firm wrote, “Testing reveals that LaCroix contains a number of artificial ingredients… LaCroix in fact contains ingredients that have been identified by the Food and Drug Administration as synthetic. These chemicals include limonene, which can cause kidney toxicity and tumors; linalool propionate, which is used to treat cancer; and linalool, which is used in cockroach insecticide.”

As alarming as that sounds — seriously, cockroach insecticide? — this lawsuit isn’t enough reason to clear out your fridge. When the context in which these ingredients are used, it becomes clear that these hard-to-pronounce compounds aren’t nearly as terrifying as Beaumont Costales would have you believe.

Let’s start with the first claim: Limonene causes cancer and kidney problems. According to PubChem, the National Center for Biotechnology Information’s open database of chemicals, limonene is a “major component of the oil extracted from citrus peels with potential chemopreventive and antitumor activities.” Basically, limonene could be capable of slowing or averting the development of cancer.

It’s likely that Beaumont Costales asserted that limonene could cause tumors because it has — in male rats. These results, which were generated by studies carried out in the early 1990s, have never been reproduced in humans. In fact, PubChem clearly states, “There is inadequate evidence in humans for the carcinogenicity of d-limonene.” What’s more, a study from October 2012 published in the Journal of Cancer Therapy determined that it was totally safe for women to apply “high levels” of massage oils containing limonene.

Before we tackle linalool propionate, let’s talk about linalool. It’s a naturally occurring chemical that’s found in many flowers and spices, according to PubChem. Linalool is a popular flavoring agent, but it’s also found in face washes and acne products. Though Beaumont Costales is right that linalool is found in insecticides, that doesn’t mean it isn’t safe for humans. Panera got in trouble for a similar situation in which it had asserted that sodium benzoate — a substance found in fireworks — shouldn’t be in food. Of course, they forgot to mention that sodium benzoate is also a popular food preservative and that it naturally exists in cranberries. The only issue with linalool, PubChem reports, is that it may be a mild eye and skin irritant.

As for linalool propionate, also known as linalyl propionate, it’s derived from ginger and lavender and is a common flavoring agent and perfume ingredient, PubChem says. A June 2012 study published in the journal Planta Medica found that linalyl propionate inhibited the growth of prostate cancer cells — which makes the Beaumont Costales argument against linalyl propionate seem like weak rationalization.

Keep in mind that these three chemicals are found in foods beyond just LaCroix sparkling water. “It is very unlikely these naturally occurring substances pose a health risk when consumed at levels usually found in foods,” says Roger Clemens, an adjunct professor of pharmaceutical sciences at the University of Southern California. “If there were a health risk, then citrus juices and spices, such as curry, would not be consumed or be part of the commodity market.”

Is LaCroix bad for your teeth?

One issue that could arise due to drinking too much LaCroix, however, is erosion of the enamel on your teeth. An April 2016 study published in The Journal of the American Dental Association came up with a scale for measuring the strength of a drink. Beverages with a pH below 3.0 were considered “extremely errosive,” a pH between 3.0 and 3.99 was labeled “errosive,” and anything above a pH of 4.0 was “minimally errosive.” In a different study, a McGill researcher tested the pH levels of nine different seltzer waters (LaCroix was not one of them), and found that cold seltzer had a lower pH than warm seltzer. All but one of the brands she looked at had a pH of 4.0 or higher when it was cold, which means you don’t have to freak out about your teeth disintegrating the moment a drop of fizzy water touches your lips. However, seltzer water should not be a replacement for regular still water.

If you were worried you’d have to give up your weekly LaCroix treat, don’t fret! You can still enjoy that pamplemousse beverage (or whatever your favorite flavor is) and feel good about your choices. We’ll cheers to that!

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LaCroix Lawsuit: Is Sparkling Water Good or Bad for You?

Sparkling water has surged in popularity lately, but one of the most well-known brands on the market has hit a snag. The National Beverage Corporation, the parent company of LaCroix, was slapped with a lawsuit in an Illinois circuit court last week, per NBC. The claim? That using the words “natural flavored” on individual cans of LaCroix is misleading. The lawsuit states that there are a number of artificial ingredients in the water, including ethyl butanoate, limonene, and linalool propionate. What’s worse, the lawsuit says linalool is also found in insecticides.

Leah Kaufman, RD, a nutritionist based in New York City, says it’s smart to be apprehensive about labels and ingredients you don’t fully understand — on a can of LaCroix or another product. “You want to make sure you’re aware of what you’re consuming and fully understand your labels,” she says.

The only two ingredients listed on a can on LaCroix are carbonated water and natural flavor. “So if it says ‘natural,’ what does it mean?” Kaufman says. “If the company is unable to identify that right on the label, I would be wary to consume that product.”

Representatives from the National Beverage Corporation responded to the lawsuit by saying the claims are false and that the popular beverage follows the Food and Drug Administration’s definition of “natural.”

As Popular Science reports, there’s some dispute to that, as limonene, linalool, and linalool propionate have not been proven to be toxic in recent human studies. In fact, data on PubChem, a public chemical compound database maintained by the National Institutes of Health, shows that limonene is a naturally occurring chemical that makes up the oil found in citrus peels. Linalool, on the other hand, comes from mint, herbs, and citrus fruits, and the biggest issue seems to be that the ingredient has been said to potentially cause mild skin and eye irritation among humans. Linalool propionate, which is found in ginger, is used for its scent and flavor and doesn’t seem to pose a threat to humans.

Regardless of what happens with the lawsuit, what does it mean for fans of LaCroix and other bubbly beverages? Is a seltzer habit a healthy one, or should it be considered a vice?

RELATED: Is Halo Top Ice Cream Healthy? What to Know If You’re on a Diet

The Truth About Sparkling Water and Its Effect on Your Health

Kaufman generally recommends sparkling water, which is normally just water plus pressurized carbon dioxide. “The only time I would tell somebody not to have sparkling water is if they have any kind of GI issue,” says Kaufman, adding that the bubbles can lead to feeling bloated or gassy.

Kaufman says that some people might mistake feeling bloated for feeling full. And at least one study by Japanese researchers published in the Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology backs them up. The researchers found that carbonated water may help temporarily keep you full. Yet another study — this one published in the September-October 2017 issue of the journal Obesity Research & Clinical Practice — found the opposite: Drinking gaseous beverages increased the level of the hunger hormone ghrelin and led to weight gain. (The latter study faced some criticism because it was mainly done on rats, so the findings don’t necessarily translate to humans.)

There are also some claims that sparkling water can erode tooth enamel. A study published in April 2016 in The Journal of the American Dental Association collected data on the pH levels of 379 beverages and found that Perrier carbonated mineral water had low erosion potential, while S. Pellegrino sparkling natural mineral water had slightly more. They clocked a 5.25 pH and 4.96 pH, respectively, whereas Coca-Cola had a 2.37 pH (with a low pH indicating a higher erosion potential). So while sparkling water is not as safe for your smile as still, which is a neutral 7 pH, it’s not as risky as regular soda.

The major benefit of sparkling water is that it may make you more likely to sip water during the day. “It’s just carbon dioxide going into your water, and in terms of hydration, you’re still getting the same H2O,” Kaufman says. That means it’s fair game to count your sparkling water habit toward your eight glasses a day quota, which can help regulate your body temperature, protect your tissues and joints, and make you feel energized, notes the Mayo Clinic.

Just don’t confuse sparkling water with tonic water. “Tonic is often made with sugar or high fructose corn syrup,” Kaufman says. Although it features carbonated water as its main ingredient, one serving can have 100 calories and 24 grams of sugar, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. “I would not recommend it for who are trying to lose weight because of this reason,” Kaufman says.

Is sparkling water like LaCroix actually good for you? Here’s what experts say

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LaCroix’s parent company is being sued for allegedly using the cockroach insecticide, linalool, as an ingredient in their beverages. Veuer’s Sam Berman has the full story.

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LaCroix recently made headlines after a lawsuit was filed against its parent company alleging the “all natural” sparkling water contained an ingredient used in cockroach pesticide. Alleged synthetic ingredients aside, is sparkling water healthy anyway?

Is carbonated water better, worse or the same as still water?

Sparkling water is just water with carbon dioxide added for fizz. The carbon dioxide changes to carbonic acid in your body.

The biggest potential negative: Some say the acid from bubbly water can erode tooth enamel. André Ritter, at the University of North Carolina School of Dentistry, told Today that frequent sparkling water drinkers are the most at risk. And, adding lemon or lime juice makes the drinks even less friendly to enamel. Researchers in the UK soaked teeth in flavored sparkling water and found that tooth erosion was similar to that of orange juice. Still, tossing back a sparkling water is less harsh on teeth compared to soda. In fact, a study by the Journal of the American Dental Association categorized carbonated mineral water as “minimally invasive” compared with other carbonated drinks.

Robin Foroutan, a dietician and spokesperson for for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, told USA TODAY in terms of hydration, sparkling water is the same as pure water. Drinking it throughout the day can fuel your healthy fluid intake.

“The only reasons to cut back is if you find yourself being bloaty,” she said.

The carbonation in the water can make people feel bloated and cause them to burp.

More: Why you should drink water first thing every day

Most experts say if you’re more likely to grab sparkling water over still water, go for it. It could keep you more hydrated and healthier.

More: LaCroix faces lawsuit for allegedly including cockroach insecticide ingredient in its sparkling water

Follow Ashley May on Twitter: @AshleyMayTweets

Current obsession: sparkling water. From La Croix to Spindrift, we’re all loving the lightly flavored fizz. Not only are celebs loving it (and, from the looks of it, everyone you follow on Instagram), but earlier this summer, an artist showcased a collection called “9 Cans of LaCroix” to perfectly capture the fervor.

But if you glug can after can of sparkling H2O all day long, is that okay?

Actually, it probably is totally fine, says Keri Glassman, R.D., founder of NutritiousLife.com. (Phew!) “If you’re choosing sparkling water that has no sugar or artificial sweeteners in it, then it’s completely fine,” she says. “We love LaCroix in our house. And they do count toward your fluid intake to keep you hydrated.”

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But if you read the alarming headlines saying that “fizzy drinks could make you fat,” then you may be wondering about the study everyone was talking about recently. Newly published in the journal Obesity Research & Clinical Practice, the authors found that the carbon dioxide gas in carbonated waters altered levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin, possibly upping your appetite and spurring weight gain. They concluded that, along with added sugar, it may be one reason that soda is linked to obesity. Terrible, right? Hold on. The small study was done on rats and men—not on women—so way more research would be needed to suggest you should overhaul your habits. (Learn how bone broth can help you lose weight with Women’s Health’s Bone Broth Diet.)

Not drinking as much water as you should? This easy water bottle hack will help you stay hydrated throughout the day:

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For the most part, if you feel good while drinking sparkling waters, then keep sipping. But if you start experiencing some side effects, then that’s a signal your body’s throwing at you to scale back. “Because of the bubbles, some people get bloated, gassy, and constipated,” says Glassman. If these symptoms sound familiar, drink less carbonated water, and see if that helps your tummy troubles.

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The other question many people have about flavored seltzers revolves around the ambiguous term “natural flavors.” If drinks are unsweetened and calorie-free, it begs the question: Where is that flavoring really coming from? We don’t really know, says Glassman. “’Natural’ doesn’t mean much,” she says. “However, of all the ingredients in your food to worry about, I wouldn’t stress out about it or avoid drinking them just because of natural flavors,” says Glassman. The best option is to grab plain club soda and cut your own chunks of fruit to infuse the water with DIY “fruit essence,” says Glassman, but it’s far more convenient to pop the top on a can—so it’s understandable if you’d rather choose that option.

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Your best bet is to examine the ingredients list and nutrition label of your sparkling H2O of choice. Make sure yours has no added sugar or artificial sweeteners and is low in calories. (Spindrift, for instance, flavors with fruit juice and puree and contains fewer than 15 calories per can.) Check the label on plain sparkling mineral waters, too. Some may contain sodium, another culprit that can make you bloated. Others offer a good source of minerals like calcium and magnesium, which is a nice bonus.

Jessica Migala Jessica Migala is a health writer specializing in general wellness, fitness, nutrition, and skincare, with work published in Women’s Health, Glamour, Health, Men’s Health, and more.

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