Is ginger ale good for you?
Ginger ale is a carbonated beverage that contains either real ginger extract or ginger flavouring. It is sweet tasting and enjoyed by people all over the world.
The table below provides nutritional information for your average can (12 fl oz) of store bought ginger ale.
Of course, certain brands will have their own unique formulas, which means that the nutritional information of the ginger ale that they produce may vary slightly.
One of the first things you will probably have noticed is that ginger ale contains a lot of sugar. The amount of sugar that people should consume varies, however the American Heart Association states that in general, the maximum amount of added sugars that an individual should consume can be seen below.
- Women: 100 calories per day, or 25 g
- Men: 150 calories per day, or 37.5 g
This means that a single can of ginger ale has extremely large amounts of sugar. In fact, it is comparable to a can of cola, which has 33 g of sugar.
Experts believe that in our diets today, added sugar is the single worst ingredient and is especially harmful when ingested in liquid form. Consuming large amounts of added sugar has quite a few negative impacts.
- It is a source of empty calories – added sugar is high in calories, but lacks nutrients. Indeed, a can of ginger ale has 124 calories but provides almost no vitamins or minerals for the body.
- It is high in fructose – which can burden the liver if consumed in large amounts, and this is usually the case with sugar sweetened beverages. When excessive fructose is consumed, it is turned into fat by the liver. The constant consumption of large amounts of fructose can lead to fatty liver disease.
- It can cause insulin resistance – which in turn can lead to type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Studies show that excessive sugar consumption is associated with insulin resistance and greatly increases the risk of type 2 diabetes.
- It may cause cancer – studies such as this, this and this have found a strong link between high sugar consumption and certain types of cancer.
- It can lead to weight gain – sugar sweetened beverages are thought to be one of the leading causes of obesity. This is because they don’t fill you up as much as solid food would, and as a result, you end up consuming more calories than you require.
- It is bad for your teeth – acidic & sugary beverages like ginger ale can be damaging to the teeth.
- It is very addictive – sugar stimulates the pleasure centers in the brain and some people can get addicted to it, similar to how some people get addicted to certain drugs.
Because of the high sugar content of store bought ginger ale, drinking it on a regular basis would not be recommended. Enjoying small quantities every once in a while is fine, but drinking it everyday is not a good idea.
But what about the ginger in ginger ale, isn’t that healthy?
There is no doubt that ginger is healthy. One of the reasons is because it contains gingerol, a substance that has powerful medicinal properties. The consumption of ginger can bring many benefits.
- It can help to reduce inflammation – which in turn may reduce the risk of various diseases and help ease the pain caused by certain conditions. It also reduces muscle pain, as seen in this study.
- It can treat nausea – including ginger in the diet can reduce symptoms of nausea, which is commonly seen in pregnant women and cancer patients.
- It can help treat chronic indigestion – ginger speeds up the emptying of the stomach, which may reduce the risk of suffering from indigestion.
- It may lower cholesterol levels – in this study involving 85 participants, it was found that ginger had a significant lipid lowering effect when compared to a placebo.
- It may help prevent cancer – studies such as this and this show that ginger may be effective against certain types of cancer.
- It can help fight infections – ginger contains compounds that can inhibit the growth of certain bacteria and viruses.
Unfortunately, drinking store bought ginger ale does not mean that you will reap all of these benefits. The first reason is because not all types of ginger ale contain extracts from real ginger; some just have artificial flavourings. Secondly, the high sugar content automatically negates any of the benefits that the ginger provides.
So what’s the solution? Make your own healthy ginger ale at home!
Your best option is to make your own low sugar version of ginger ale at home. This is not difficult to do, all you require is a cup of peeled & chopped ginger, some carbonated water and a little bit of honey.
Start by adding the ginger to a saucepan together with 2 cups of ordinary plain water. Heat the saucepan until the water begins to boil, then allow to simmer for 5 minutes. Next, strain the liquid through a sieve and let it to cool to room temperature.
To make the ginger ale, you need to combine one part of the ginger liquid to two parts of carbonated water. Then add in a little bit of honey or maple syrup to sweeten.
This homemade ginger ale is much healthier than the kind that you buy from the store because it contains large amounts of ginger, but less sugar and fewer calories.
Most store bought ginger ales are high in sugar and don’t contain large amounts of ginger. If you want to enjoy ginger ale on a regular basis, your best option is to make your own healthy version at home.