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posted: 7/18/2012 6:38 AM

Club soda, seltzer zero-calorie options for fizzy drinks

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  • Cantaloupe is a good source of vitamin C as well as betacarotene.

      Cantaloupe is a good source of vitamin C as well as betacarotene.
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Q. Is there a difference between seltzer, club soda and tonic?

A. All three drinks are clear and fizzy, but there are differences.

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Tonic water is the clear standout because it is the only one with calories. Despite the slight bitter taste from added quinine, it is a sugar-sweetened drink with almost as many calories as regular cola. Diet tonic is available with zero-calories because of artificial sweeteners.

Seltzer is a zero-calorie drink because it is simply water fizzed up with carbon dioxide. Sodium content is essentially zero.

Club soda is similar to seltzer, except for various "salts" added to enhance flavor. In this case, "salts" does not refer only to sodium chloride (table salt), but to a variety of different mineral mixtures, that may be sodium-, potassium or magnesium-based.

Therefore, sodium content of club soda varies among brands. An 8-ounce glass may contain as little as 10 milligrams (mg) of sodium, which is negligible, or as much as 80 mg. Even the latter isn't a lot out of a daily maximum of 1500 or 2300 mg (depending on your age and health), but if you drink much it can add up.

Q. How do melons like cantaloupe and watermelon rate for nutrition?

A. All melons, especially cantaloupe, are excellent sources of vitamin C. A little less than a cup of cantaloupe provides an adult with half to two-thirds of current recommended amounts of vitamin C for the day.

Cantaloupe and watermelon are also rich in beta-carotene. In laboratory studies, beta-carotene seems to reduce inflammation, improve immune function, protect DNA and help control cell growth in ways that may reduce cancer risk.

In addition, cantaloupe is a good source of potassium, which seems to help control blood pressure, and watermelon is an excellent source of lycopene, a powerful antioxidant. All this with no cooking on a hot summer day!

To maximize health benefits, if the melon is uncut, keep it at room temperature for up to a week or until fully ripe, then refrigerate for up to 5 days. Not only will the melon get better tasting, research on uncut watermelon shows that lycopene and beta-carotene content may increase during room temperature storage.

Refrigerate cut melon in a tightly covered container and use within five days. Vitamin C and carotenoid content will drop only a little if at all during that time, so don't hesitate to buy a whole melon rather than partial pieces to keep your grocery bill lower.

• Provided by the American Institute for Cancer Research.

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