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The Hard Truth About Hard Seltzers

Reviewed by: Dr. Steven Knauf, D.C.

By: Brandi Goodman


Hard seltzers have expanded the market for the alcoholic beverage industry, adding a so-called healthy alternative for people looking to cut back on calories and sugar. Despite these cutbacks, seltzers can still have negative effects on overall health. It’s time to learn the hard truth about hard seltzers so you can be aware of all the facts before you consume them.

What are hard seltzers, and how are they made?

Hard seltzers are alcoholic beverages made with carbonated water, fruit flavor, and malted barley as the alcohol base. Alcoholic seltzer using vodka soda is also becoming more common.

Water and cane sugar most often create the base of the beverage, and yeast is added to cause fermentation. This process converts the sugar into alcohol form. It then goes through a filtration process before flavoring is added. Carbon dioxide gets infused into it in the final step to create the well-known carbonization effect. They can be found at many convenience stores and party stores.

How popular are hard seltzers?

The seltzer market has grown exponentially in recent years. Sales skyrocketed to more than $18 billion in 2023 and is expected to grow by more than 14 percent by 2030. Drinks with 5 to 6.9 percent alcohol make up more than half of the market share each year but those falling under 4.9 percent are not far behind. Most seltzers fall into one of the two ranges.

The appeal of hard seltzers during the summer months

During the summer months, the heat can make us feel more thirsty than usual. When you’re lounging by the pool with friends or heading to the beach, bringing a cooler full of hard seltzers along may seem like a great way to unwind and enjoy the day. You’ll stay hydrated while also getting a buzz. Right? Wrong! Just because seltzers contain some water does not mean they are a viable substitute for the real thing. The added alcohol counteracts it, acting as a diuretic that can leave you feeling dehydrated instead.

You need plain water to keep your body well-hydrated and able to fend off the summer heat. Opt for just one hard seltzer to enjoy and then drink regular water the remainder of the day if you want to avoid dehydration.

How hard seltzers differ from other alcoholic drinks

The taste, alcohol content, number of calories, and ingredients vary between different types of alcohol. Hard seltzers have a taste reminiscent of sparkling water with a fruit juice flavor. They have fewer calories and contain a lower alcohol by volume (ABV). Many contain only 4.5 to 5 percent alcohol. They tend to be considered healthier because they do not contain sugar and are often 100 calories or less.

Can I become an alcoholic from drinking hard seltzers?

Alcoholism is a possible effect of chronic use of any alcoholic beverage, whether it is high or low in alcohol content. It’s always advised to stick to no more than one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men. Addiction to alcohol is becoming extremely prevalent, with more than 29 million people in the U.S. suffering from alcohol use disorder in 2022. This number includes youth between the ages of 12 and 17. Hard seltzers and “fun drinks” are far too tempting for young minds. Though it’s easier to become dependent on high ABV drinks, these lower ABV options are just as worrisome because they’re so easily accessible, and people may drink more of them at a sitting due to their low calorie and sugar content and limited amount of alcohol.

Nutritional considerations of drinking hard seltzers

Hard seltzers do not offer any nutritional value. They may hinder your nutrition because too many people fill up on these carbonated drinks and leave little room for food. Because seltzers do have less sugar and fewer calories than other alcoholic beverages, they are a better option compared to their counterparts, but they should never replace food and water. If you have a drink, be sure to eat a nutritious meal along with it.

Potential risks of consuming hard seltzers

Because seltzers are carbonated and quite acidic, they can pose more harm to your oral health than anything. Acidic beverages can erode the enamel on your teeth. You may first experience sensitivity, and then eventually, a cavity will develop. Over time, decay can set in. Be sure to limit your drinking and brush your teeth soon after consumption to keep your teeth intact.

Tips for choosing and enjoying hard seltzers responsibly

When choosing your hard seltzer, always look at the label. There are plenty of options, including White Claw, Bon Viv, Bud Light Seltzer, Blue Moon, Mike’s Hard Lemonade Seltzer, and Truly. Check out the labels of each and determine which version has the fewest calories. Then, pick a flavor you enjoy, such as black cherry, watermelon, or piña colada. To drink responsibly, only drink one and then opt for water.

Creative ways to enjoy hard seltzers

Most people drink their hard seltzer right out of the can. The ready-to-drink nature is convenient and doesn’t require another glass. Yet, finding creative ways to spruce up the drink can be beneficial for your health. For example, pour the seltzer into a glass and add a handful of berries. It can enhance the taste while also giving you some boozy berries to enjoy that pack antioxidants and other vital nutrients.

Adding a few slices of lemon or lime also works well if you’re simply looking to enhance the flavor. Flavoring extract is also available, which pulls flavor from natural sources and turns it into a concentrated, liquid form.

Making better health choices

Doctors at The Joint Chiropractic encourage you to make wise choices when it comes to your health. Although it’s fine to indulge in a hard seltzer on occasion, you don’t want to make it a habit. Instead, make better health choices so you can keep your well-being intact. Just one hard seltzer, or even a stronger alcoholic beverage, isn’t enough to derail your health entirely, but it may put you on a slippery slope to potentially drinking more. Water should be the predominant drink of choice. Paired with exercise, healthy eating, and regular trips to the chiropractor, these healthy habits can improve your wellness.

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