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Water is the perfect thirst quencher. But who doesn’t want a cool drink with a little pizzazz every so often! These low-calorie finds are unsweetened or sweetened with a splash of fruit juice or (safe) stevia extract. How refreshing!

Fruit that sparkles 

can of Sanzo mango flavor

Sanzo puts the fizz in “traditional Asian flavors.” That means sparkling water with up to 20 calories’ worth of juices or purées like Pomelo (think grapefruit), Yuzu (lemony), Calamansi (lime), Lychee (a fragrant tropical fruit), or Mango.

You’ll pay a premium for those ingredients—around $2 per can at Target. But the taste? Wow.

Or try Spindrift. Its sparkling Pineapple, Blood Orange Tangerine, Raspberry Lime, and others are about $1 less per can than Sanzo. 

Water + flavor + stevia 

bottle of Stur tropical punch
Lindsay Moyer - CSPI.

“Water enhancers” are tiny bottles of concentrated liquid sweetness to flavor your water. Just one zero-calorie squeeze sweetens a cup.

But big brands have downsides. Take MiO Mango Peach. Its sweetness comes from sucralose plus acesulfame potassium and its color comes from yellow 5, yellow 6, and red 40 food dyes. All five are rated “avoid” (see Most of those are also in Crystal Light Strawberry Pineapple Refresh Liquid.

Solution: Stur. The Tropical Punch, for example, gets its peachy color from microdoses of juices like orange. And its sweetness comes from Reb A and Reb M, two safe stevia extracts. (Stur also adds 20 percent of a day’s vitamin C. That’s fine, but it’s unnecessary for healthy eaters.)

Prefer a powder? Each 10-calorie packet of True Lemon (sweetened with stevia plus 1 gram of sugar) turns 16 oz. of water into Lemonade, Limeade, Orangeade, or Iced Tea.

A little sweet, a little sour 

Trader Joe's Sparkling
Marlena Koch - CSPI.

It’s amazing what a dose of acidity will do. Each 12 oz. can of Trader Joe’s Organic Sparkling Lemon + Strawberry Apple Cider Vinegar Beverage balances a half cup of juice with a tablespoon of vinegar for a 35-calorie sweet-tart sensation. Ditto for TJ’s Ginger + Lemon and Elderberry + Pomegranate drinks. In fact, they’re still sweet enough that you could cut them with some plain seltzer.

Serious sour fans might also consider kombucha, which gets its funky kick as it ferments. A cup of most brands has just 30 or so calories from juice or (sometimes) added sugar. Note: Many kombuchas make a lot of health claims...without a lot of evidence. Enjoy yours with a healthy dose of skepticism.

Flavor-full bubbles 

can of Waterloo blackberry lemonade
Marlena Koch - CSPI.

LaCroix, Bubly, Polar, AHA, etc. There’s no shortage of naturally flavored, unsweetened seltzers. Then there’s Waterloo: 
same ingredients, stronger flavor.

“We’re the sparkling water that goes all in on full flavor every day,” says the company. Indeed. Its standout flavors range from Peach to Cherry Limeade to Blackberry Lemonade. Yum.

Soda done right 

can of Zevia caffeine free cola

No sugar. No calories. No risky low-calorie sweeteners. No food dyes. Great taste.

Stevia-sweetened Zevia checks all the boxes. If you want a soda, it’s hard to find a better one. And you’ve got 18 flavors to choose from, like Creamy Root Beer, Ginger Ale, or Lemon Lime Twist. Zevia even serves up a Caffeine Free version of its Cola. Sweet!

Ice it 

glass of iced tea with lemon and mint and a straw
chas53 -

Making your own iced tea or coffee has perks.

Among them: no need to lug home a plastic bottle that may not get recycled.

For sweetness, just add stevia or a teaspoon of sugar, if you like. You might even save money.

Fruity white teas or caffeine-free herbal teas (like a tart hibiscus) taste great chilled. Or add mint, berries, or lemon or orange slices to black or green tea.

Tip: Freeze some coffee in ice cube trays so the cubes don’t water down your homemade iced coffee as they melt. 

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