Do you love the taste and low calorie count of traditional diet sodas, but could do without the chemical sweeteners?
If so, we have good news: There are many healthier, delicious carbonated options you can enjoy.
Of course, the term "healthy" is relative. “If you’re going to drink carbonated beverages, I recommend those with no sweetener or fruit juice only,” says Sharon Palmer, RDN, MSFS. “I don’t think stevia and sugar alcohols like erythritol are ‘healthy’ as they don’t provide health benefits. But in terms of a safe sugar alternative, I prefer stevia, erythritol and monk fruit to some of the compounds like aspartame and sucralose. And I don’t recommend sugar in beverages or only in small amounts."
In exchange for healthier ingredients, you’ll also be paying more money for these sparkling drinks, and many of them are not as readily available on supermarket shelves as Coke or Pepsi. Healthy soda alternatives are generally available through Amazon and on brands’ websites, as well as in some “healthy” supermarkets and stores, although more and more larger retailers—including Target and Walmart—are carrying these items.
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Healthier alternative sodas
Reed’s Real Zero Sugar Ginger Ale. Ginger is a spice proven to help reduce nausea and inflammation. Our family likes the taste of this zero-calorie ginger ale, which actually contains fresh ginger, unlike many other ginger ales. It’s sweetened with a combination of erythritol, stevia and monk fruit, and contains no artificial flavors, colors or preservatives. You can purchase this on Amazon.
Virgil’s Zero Sugar Soda. All Virgil’s sodas are certified ketogenic with no chemicals or preservatives. Available in a variety of classic flavors, including black cherry, orange and root beer, these healthier sodas are sweetened with a combination of erythritol, stevia and monk fruit. My husband likes the grapefruit and root beer flavors best. Earlier this summer, new Zero Sugar flavors were added, including Dr. Better and Ginger Ale. Purchase this soda alternative on Amazon or on the company's website.
Zevia. Launched in 2007, this was the first company to use stevia in sodas in the U.S. and Canada. The company currently offers sodas in these 15 flavors: Creamy Root Beer (launched this year), Cola, Ginger Root Beer, Ginger Ale, Black Cherry, Dr. Zevia, Grape, Cherry Cola, Cream Soda, Mountain Zevia, Caffeine Free Cola, Orange, Lemon Lime Twist, Grapefruit Citrus and Strawberry. Our family and friends like Grapefruit Citrus and Dr. Zevia (a substitute for Dr Pepper). You can purchase Zevia at most major grocery stores nationwide, through the company website or on Amazon.
Wave. Made with 85% bubbly water and 15% fruit juice, and no additional sweeteners, these drinks contain only 15-25 calories per can. Flavors include tangerine, cucumber, blackberry, blueberry, grapefruit, apple and my personal favorite, mango. They are available for purchase at the New Wave Soda website, Amazon, and Whole Foods.
United Sodas. At 30 calories, these healthier sodas are lightly sweetened with a combination of organic cane sugar, organic erythritol, and organic stevia. Flavors include Cherry Pop, Strawberry Basil, Extra Peach, Orange Nectarine, Young Mango, Lemon Verbena, Pear Elderflower, Gingery Ale, Sour Blueberry, Toasted Coconut, White Grape and Blackberry Jam. United Sodas are available for purchase at the company website, as well as at more than 150 retail locations, including Erewhon, Foxtrot, Central Market and Harmons.
WAVE Sparkling Beverage Refresher 3 Flavor Variety Pack | Low Calorie, No Added Sugar, Organic Certified, Low Sugar Soda Alternative Sparkling Juice, Vegan, Gluten-Free - No Preservatives or Artificial Ingredients - 12-Pack Sample
Carbonated Energy and Recovery, and/or Prebiotic and Probiotic Ingredients
REBBL. These fizzy drinks are made from organic, plant-based ingredients, as well as prebiotics that support digestive health and immunity. These functional sodas come in four different flavors: root beer, ginger lime, mandarin orange and blackberry. At 50 calories, this has more calories than other soda alternatives, but when I tried the blackberry flavor, I thought it was terrific. The sweetener is interesting, too. The company uses organic coconut nectar harvested from the flower of a coconut tree (not the coconut fruit itself). REBBL is available through the company’s website and in-store at Whole Foods.
EBoost SUPER FUEL. This sparkling natural energy drink is fortified with nootropics, vitamins, minerals, and electrolytes. It is keto-friendly, non-GMO, soy-free, vegetarian, gluten-free and contains no artificial flavors, colors or sweeteners. It is just 10-20 calories with 1-2 grams of sugar (from honey), and contains natural caffeine sourced from green tea and green coffee seed. Flavors include strawberry lemonade, orange mango, and ginger lime. I tried the orange mango (20 calories) and liked it. I could really taste the orange juice, which is one of the ingredients. SUPER FUEL can be purchased on the company’s website and on Amazon as well as at select CVS, Target and Wegmans locations.
Kill Cliff Ignite. Made with electrolytes, B-vitamins and green tea clean caffeine, this carbonated drink uses a combination of stevia and erythritol for sweetness. I tried several of these drinks and liked the flavors, but my favorite was the Tropicool Thunder. I drank it after a two-hour workout and felt great afterward too! Kill Cliff beverages can be purchased on the company’s website, Amazon, and at retailers nationwide, including Walmart.
Culture POP. Culture POP comes in five flavors including Pink Grapefruit Ginger & Juniper, Ginger Lemon & Turmeric, Orange Mango Chili & Lime, Watermelon Lime & Rosemary, and my favorite, Wild Berries Basil & Lime. Each can contains probiotics, all-natural juices, organic cane sugar and organic ground spices. Culture POP can be ordered online on the company’s website and on Amazon, as well as in Whole Foods Market and specialty and natural food stores.
Wildwonder. This Certified Organic sparkling drink is crafted with live vegan probiotics, prebiotic plant fiber, superheroes, fruit, maple syrup and monk fruit. At 35 calories, it offers a tasty way to aid digestion and boost your immune system. Flavors include Guava Rose, Mango Turmeric, Ginger Lemon, Turmeric Pear and a favorite, Peach Ginger. These are available for purchase at the company’s website and Amazon, and can be found in stores using the site’s store locator.
Poppi. This healthy soda alternative is infused with apple cider vinegar for a happy gut, and also contains prebiotics. At 20 calories, this soda contains organic cane sugar and stevia. Fruity flavors of Poppi Soda include Raspberry Rose, Orange, Watermelon, Ginger Lime, Strawberry Lemon, Blueberry, Pineapple Mango, and Grapefruit. The New Classics line includes Doc Pop, Root Beer, and Classic Cola. These can be purchased at Sprouts, Whole Foods, Target and more, and are available online at Amazon.
OLIPOP. These sodas are loaded with prebiotics and come in a variety of flavors: Vintage Cola, Orange Squeeze, Strawberry Vanilla, Cherry Vanilla, Lemon Ginger, Grape and Root Beer. Each can has 45 calories and two to five grams of sugar. They can be purchased online at the company’s website or via Amazon, and at over 5,000 grocers nationwide including Whole Foods, Sprouts, Kroger, Safeway and Wegmans.
wildwonder Sparkling Probiotic Juice Drink w/Gut Health Immunity, 5g Fiber, Live Probiotics, Caffeine Free, Organic, Vegan, Low Sugar, 12pk 12oz, Tropical Vibes Variety Pack, As Seen on Shark Tank
Healthiest sparkling waters
Zevia Sparkling Water. With 0 calories and a touch of stevia, this sparkling water has just enough sweetness to make the flavor come alive. Flavors include Cucumber Lemon and my favorite, Blackberry. These are available at major grocery stores nationwide, through the company website, or on Amazon.
Waterloo. This line of sparkling, zero-calorie drinks is sweetened with natural flavors. Choose from the following flavors: Summer Berry (Limited Time), Pineapple, Black Cherry, Lemon-Lime, Watermelon, Peach, Strawberry, Grape, Grapefruit, Blueberry, Orange and Original. Peach is especially tasty. Waterloo can be purchased online at Amazon, and at Target, Walmart, Whole Foods and other retailers around the country.
Spritz Tea. This line of sparkling, no-calorie tea infusions are sweetened with erythritol and offer a tasty and healthy alternative to traditional sodas. They are offered in four great flavors—Pink Guava, Golden Peach, Bright Citrus and Wild Acai, which is my favorite.You can get fun cocktail recipes made with these sodas, as well as project ideas (Stained Glass Acai Pops, anyone?) on their Instagram page. Spritz Tea can be purchased online at the company’s website or retailers around the country.
LaCroix. LaCroix Sparkling Water has zero calories, zero sweeteners and zero sodium. The 30 flavors of LaCroix include the newest offerings of Beach Plum, Black Razzberry and Guava São Paulo. LaCroix is available online through Amazon, and at stores nationwide.
Sharon Palmer, RDN, MSFS from California
Nutrition Reviews: "Effect of sucralose and aspartame on glucose metabolism and gut hormones"
Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. 2nd edition: "The Amazing and Mighty Ginger"