What are the “Natural Flavors” in Sparkling Water?

Sparkling water, seltzers, and club soda are seen as healthy alternatives to processed juices and sodas because they contain zero percent fat, sodium, and sugar. Sodas and juices are falling out of many people’s diets as they contain high amounts of sugar. The World Health Organization recommends that the average person should consume around 25 grams of sugar a day, however, the averages for Europe and North America are much higher due to the readily available sugary drinks. Higher levels of sugar consumption are related to all sorts of common ailments found in “developed” countries such as type-2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and obesity, according to this article published by Harvard Health Publishing.

Because of the shifting public concerns of sugar, many have elected to substitute their sugary sodas and juices with carbonated water. With these drinks and conscious consumption on the rise, wondering what exactly is the flavoring used in sparkling water is a natural and valid concern. Have no fear the answer lies here, and it may surprise you.

According to the Code of Federal Regulations Title 21 published by the FDA, the natural flavors found on the ingredients list of sparkling waters, tonic waters, etc, are actually:

“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.”

So next time your ma or pop ask you what’s giving that can of pop you’re sipping its flavor, you can actually give them a response instead of staring vacantly at the can and thinking to yourself “Hm, ya know, I haven’t thought about that”

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