Are Hard Seltzers Really Better For You?

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With an increasing number of Americans deciding to drink less, beverage makers have started to get creative. The trend began with fizzy, alcohol-free waters like LaCroix and flavored Perrier. Now they're adding alcohol to the mix for a lighter alternative to beer, wine and mixed drinks: hard seltzer. Popular brands include White Claw, Truly, and Bon & Viv.

"Hard seltzers are lower in calories and carbohydrates than most other alcoholic drinks, and they're gluten-free," says Nessreen Rizvi, M.D., an internal medicine physician at Henry Ford Health System.

Hard Seltzer FAQs

With the warmer weather, you might be looking for sipping options that are light and refreshing. Since there's some mystery about whether or not spiked seltzer is a healthy option, we asked Dr. Rizvi to answer frequently asked questions about the popular new beverage trend.

Q: What is hard seltzer?

A: Hard seltzer is essentially fruit-flavored carbonated water with alcohol added. Unlike vodka or gin, which are grain-fermented, the alcohol in hard seltzer comes from fermented cane sugar. That's why it's lower in alcohol content — and a safe option for vegans.

Q: Are hard seltzers better for you than wine or beer?

A: Hard seltzers are lower in carbohydrates and calories than other alcoholic beverages, but that doesn't mean they're healthy. A can of seltzer has about the same number of calories and the same alcohol content as a light beer and it's gluten-free. The alcohol content is between 4 and 6 percent, which is about the same as most light beers and domestic beers.

Q: What are the downsides of drinking hard seltzer?

A: You're still drinking empty calories — and it's still an alcoholic beverage. Since hard seltzer has a sort of "health halo" surrounding it, many people think that sipping it all day is a healthy option. It's not. It's similar to a light beer, but it's a much better choice than a margarita or martini.

Q: What should people know if they choose to drink hard seltzer?

A: You might end up drinking more than you intended. A can of spiked seltzer tastes a lot like sweetened fizzy water and isn’t as filling as other alcoholic drinks. That makes it easy to sip more than you should.

Q: What are some healthier beverage options?

A: Water is always the best choice for hydration. You can choose regular non-alcoholic seltzer and add bits of fruit or herbs for a hint of flavor.

Safer Sipping

It's important to remember that hard seltzer, like any other alcoholic beverage, requires moderation. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one drink is the equivalent to a 12-ounce can of beer (5 percent alcohol), a 5-ounce glass of wine or a 1.5 ounce shot of hard liquor — or one can of hard seltzer.

Drinking in excess is linked to a variety of chronic diseases, including high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, liver disease and certain types of cancer, such as throat, liver, mouth and breast. Excessive drinking is also linked with mental health disorders, including depression and anxiety. Plus, there are short-term risks, such as accidents, injuries and alcohol poisoning.


To find a doctor or registered dietitian at Henry Ford, visit henryford.com or call 1-800-HENRYFORD (436-7936).

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Dr. Nessreen Rizvi is an internal medicine physician, seeing patients at Henry Ford Medical Center – Columbus in Novi.

Categories: FeelWell