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Flavored sparkling water - too good to be true?

by (21405)
Updated about 16 hours ago
Created June 04, 2012 at 3:33 PM

One of my post-paleo "treats" when I'm a little burned out on regular water or water+lime/lemon juice is flavored sparkling water. When I think to buy them (about twice a month) I drink maybe 12oz(355ml) to a liter to every 2-3 glasses of water (I drink a lot of water in the Florida summer). They squash my soda fix (I didn't really care for HFCS sodas anyway, if I'm gonna have a soda it's going to have cane sugar in it).

My mainstays are the Pellegrino Grapefruit sparkling water, and the LaCroix sparkling water in cans (the coconut or lime flavors are my most common pickups).

Ingredients on either product both say "Sparkling water, natural flavor" and nothing more. Being my normal skeptical self, I'm at odds with the ambiguous "natural flavor" ingredient, and honestly, the stuff tastes really good (drinking the coconut flavor currently). Neither product has any macronutrient value, with the exception of a percent or so of sodium in the Pellegrino. But I'm always wary - and want to make sure I'm not setting myself up for some sort of fail down the road. Additional concerns might be if there was any BPA content in the canned product (I don't buy Pellegrino in plastic, I choose the glass bottles).

I know purists might say "pssh... just drink water" but sometimes you (read: I) need a little something more.

What say you, PH? Safe or scary?

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10490 · December 09, 2012 at 12:41 AM

Yes, I love most of that. Also homemade hibiscus syrup, sometimes with lime.

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20411 · June 06, 2012 at 2:28 PM

It is illegal to hide MSG under "flavor".

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17136 · June 05, 2012 at 10:14 AM

Yup, sodastream is awesome. just throw away the toxic chemical dump that comes with it in the form of "sample flavors" and it's all good.

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1471 · June 05, 2012 at 2:29 AM

Wonder what gland they use to make our water taste like natural water?

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24538 · June 05, 2012 at 1:06 AM

Eh, I think we under-utilize the nasty bits of animals, if they can sell it to me as vanilla, it is natural and healthy, and I can't tell the difference I seriously don't care. I wonder how one goes about interviewing for the job of extracting that stuff? And would you put it on your name badge at a school reunion?

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21405 · June 04, 2012 at 11:41 PM

The Mayans were right! It is the end of the world... I've upvoted Foreveryoung!

Medium avatar
12369 · June 04, 2012 at 9:00 PM

I just do not like the thought of it - especially when I am not informed of what I'm consuming - I hate 'natural flavour' and the lack of labelling of what exactly that is - I think I should know the difference when I am eating beaver anal region secretions and when I am eating real vanilla.

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4875 · June 04, 2012 at 8:39 PM

@Bree, what's wrong with some beaver sac? At least it isn't lab synthesized.

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4875 · June 04, 2012 at 8:36 PM

I drink a fair amount of sparkling water with my vodka. I never considered that one of the two might be unhealthy!

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12369 · June 04, 2012 at 8:34 PM

I haven't drank anything with 'natural flavour' in it since I read up on castoreum - google it if you dare ;)

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3043 · June 04, 2012 at 7:54 PM

Perrier is made with sparkling water and essential oils, and is perfectly fine. :)

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424 · June 04, 2012 at 7:13 PM

Denis, do you have links to any of the research that puts a bad wrap on MSG. Given that it is the molecule which excites our taste for savory and is present throughout almost all protein containing food and in our bodies I find it hard to believe it is THAT bad for us. Having tasted MSG powder by itself, I would imagine one would be hard pressed to consume more than a few milligrams at a time without overwhelming the palate, even in processed junk. None the less, these sparkling waters almost certainly do not contain MSG as it is not at all in accordance with the flavor profile of the drink.

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788 · June 04, 2012 at 6:41 PM

I am not an expert but from what I have read about the scary stuff they can hide under natural flavor (MSG, etc) I would be wary of this.

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21405 · June 04, 2012 at 5:39 PM

Oddly enough, I cannot find any information on their mineral water with flavor added online, only their juice sodas (lemoncata, pompelmo, aranciata). Perrier has a similar product, and I could be confusing the two, I'll check at the store tonight.

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21405 · June 04, 2012 at 5:36 PM

Pellegrino has a soda product with juice and added sugar - they call it their "Sparkling Fruit Beverages" (grapefruit flavor is called "Pompelmo") and their website is here - http://www.sanpellegrinobeverages.com/, that product is **not** what I am talking about. I am talking about their bottled mineral water with zero-calorie flavor added.

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21405 · June 04, 2012 at 5:00 PM

We don't get lacroix in the glass bottles here :-( only cans. I've been pronouncing it "la croy" personally.

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20411 · June 04, 2012 at 4:23 PM

You had me at "Water: Mostly safe".

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12 Answers

C1484e8cfca0cc00f40da25d36f689b8
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424 · June 04, 2012 at 3:56 PM

Lets examine the ingredients:

  • Water: Mostly safe
  • Sparkling: You're exhaling it right now, mostly safe
  • Natural Flavor: Considering how little is needed to actually flavor something, mostly safe

Safe unless you're drowning in it.

I adore grapefruit juice. I buy it and drink it when I've got a hankering. Could I eat whole grapefruits instead? Sure, but I only do that if I want a grapefruit. Is it safe? Mercaptans can reduce glutathione peroxidase activity and they tell you not to drink it if you're taking certain meds. I'm not on those meds and I don't care, it brings a smile to my face and I feel good when I have it. I think the stress of worrying about it is far worse than the product. There is something to be said about enjoying something and being happy.

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788 · June 04, 2012 at 6:41 PM

I am not an expert but from what I have read about the scary stuff they can hide under natural flavor (MSG, etc) I would be wary of this.

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424 · June 04, 2012 at 7:13 PM

Denis, do you have links to any of the research that puts a bad wrap on MSG. Given that it is the molecule which excites our taste for savory and is present throughout almost all protein containing food and in our bodies I find it hard to believe it is THAT bad for us. Having tasted MSG powder by itself, I would imagine one would be hard pressed to consume more than a few milligrams at a time without overwhelming the palate, even in processed junk. None the less, these sparkling waters almost certainly do not contain MSG as it is not at all in accordance with the flavor profile of the drink.

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20411 · June 04, 2012 at 4:23 PM

You had me at "Water: Mostly safe".

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20411 · June 06, 2012 at 2:28 PM

It is illegal to hide MSG under "flavor".

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24538 · June 05, 2012 at 1:18 AM

Regardless of safety, I find home made to be much tastier and more satisfying.

I get high mineral sparkling water and add one of the following:

Cucumber Slices

Lemon, Grapefruit, or Orange Zest or Slices

Crushed Mint

Strawberry, Watermelon, or Raspberry Puree

Angustura Bitters

or if you are feeling slightly naughty a spoonful of liqueur like pear brandy, Disaronno, or Sambuca

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10490 · December 09, 2012 at 12:41 AM

Yes, I love most of that. Also homemade hibiscus syrup, sometimes with lime.

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14877 · June 04, 2012 at 6:15 PM

Dude, La Croix is a "safe beverage" in my book. Have never tried the coconut, but really enjoy the lemon with or without vodka and the grapefruit is good stuff too. I wouldn't worry your head over it.

And Pellegrino is sparkling mineral water. I drink that or Perrier almost everyday.

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21405 · June 04, 2012 at 11:41 PM

The Mayans were right! It is the end of the world... I've upvoted Foreveryoung!

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10 · June 04, 2012 at 4:32 PM

safe, hopefully! Sparkling water/seltzer/club soda... if you're really worried, get yourself a seltzer maker, and your water can get bubbly too. Then get your own citrus. :)

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17136 · June 05, 2012 at 10:14 AM

Yup, sodastream is awesome. just throw away the toxic chemical dump that comes with it in the form of "sample flavors" and it's all good.

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5949 · June 04, 2012 at 3:52 PM

Safe .

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0 · June 07, 2013 at 6:41 PM

I did some research and the most likely candidate for the flavoring is g-nonalactone, the aromatic compound responsible for coconut scent. This molecule is naturally found in coconuts; for LaCroix's purposes, I'm sure it's synthesized in the lab. So, it's a natural thing, just manufactured artificially. For more info, I'd say to look up health info on g-nonalactone.

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0 · May 09, 2013 at 9:57 PM

From their web site

What ingredients make up the 'Natural Flavors' in the LaCroix flavors?

The flavors are derived from the natural essence oils extracted from the fruits used in each of our LaCroix flavors. There are no sugars or artificial ingredients contained in, nor added to, these extracted flavors.

I was looking it up because I feel a little off after drinking any of their flavors. Itis also causing me not to sleep. Very interesting.

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0 · December 08, 2012 at 9:06 PM

I'm definitely a skeptic... but I still drink La Croix.

The definition of natural flavor under the Code of Federal Regulations is: “the essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate, or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis, which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional” (21CFR101.22).

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13635 · June 04, 2012 at 6:04 PM

I find the flavors in La Croix taste too artificially to me. A squirt of real lemon or lime juice works great without the mystery ingredients. Real coconut water should be nice also.

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3043 · June 04, 2012 at 5:29 PM

Speaking of the Pellegrino, I consider them "not safe." At least the ones I have seen (an internet search on grapefruit, plus the lemon, orange, and blood orange that I sell at work), they have either added sugar, or the juice is "from concentrate," in which case it is almost pure fructose. Check the carb count on the bottle. The LaCroix is listed as zero everything.

If you want sparkling water, you can always make your own. Take seltzer water and add fruit to it.

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21405 · June 04, 2012 at 5:36 PM

Pellegrino has a soda product with juice and added sugar - they call it their "Sparkling Fruit Beverages" (grapefruit flavor is called "Pompelmo") and their website is here - http://www.sanpellegrinobeverages.com/, that product is **not** what I am talking about. I am talking about their bottled mineral water with zero-calorie flavor added.

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3043 · June 04, 2012 at 7:54 PM

Perrier is made with sparkling water and essential oils, and is perfectly fine. :)

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21405 · June 04, 2012 at 5:39 PM

Oddly enough, I cannot find any information on their mineral water with flavor added online, only their juice sodas (lemoncata, pompelmo, aranciata). Perrier has a similar product, and I could be confusing the two, I'll check at the store tonight.

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5201 · June 04, 2012 at 4:02 PM

I like La Croix in the glass bottles. The cans seem to have a tinny taste to them IMO. Either lemon or lime are my favorites. Their web site says that there is nothing artificial in it so I guess it must be ok.

I think it quenches my thirst better than plain water...the bubbles, I guess. Agree with you, don't like the sweetened stuff and it always seemed to make me thirstier anyway. (BTW, never figured out if it's pronounced 'la cwah' or 'la croy'.)

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21405 · June 04, 2012 at 5:00 PM

We don't get lacroix in the glass bottles here :-( only cans. I've been pronouncing it "la croy" personally.

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134 · August 29, 2012 at 2:34 PM

I just finished a 30 day clean paleo challenge - 100% strict. i just tried the la croix water after the 30 days - i am really in-tune with my body right now and i can tell this stuff did more negative than positive. my throat feels dry, and i want more water... i'll stick to real mineral water for sure... and add a squeeze from a lime if i want flavor.

Over All: La Croix - PALEO FAIL.

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