Why some people believe ginger ale is good for you. (And why it's actually not.) (2024)

The plant version of ginger has many studied health benefits. These include being a treatment against nausea, headaches and menstrual cramps − and even improving one's blood sugar balance. Because of such advantages, some people assume that ginger ale can also be helpful and even healthy.

Unfortunately, most such beliefs aren't supported by research. While some versions of the drink certainly may have more health benefits than other types of soda, "ginger ale is not considered to be good for you," saysLisa Young, PhD, RDN, an adjunct professor of nutrition at New York University and author of "Finally Full, Finally Slim."

What isginger ale?

Ginger ale is a carbonated soft drink beverage that has ginger's distinct taste and is sweetened with sugar or artificial sweeteners. It usually contains preservatives, caramel coloring and high fructose corn syrup as well. The ginger taste is added with either artificial flavoring or comes from real ginger root. "While there are different variations and methods of production, the basic process of creating ginger ale with real ginger involves only a few steps," saysJen Messer, a nutrition consultant and registered dietitian atJen Messer Nutrition.

These steps include extracting the ginger from fresh ginger root by washing, peeling and crushing the plant, thensteeping it in hot water "to release its aromatic compounds," Messer explains. It's then sweetened, followed by a carbonation process through either natural fermentation or by artificially adding carbon dioxide gas. Finally, additional flavors and ingredients are added to enhance taste and preserve the liquid.

Is ginger ale good for you?

In the case of artificially flavored ginger ale, the beverage has no more health benefits than any other soda, which, of course, are zero. But in the case of ginger ale flavored by real ginger root, the beverage has marginally more health benefits than other soft drinks. While such versions are still "not typically viewed as a 'healthy' food option, they can potentially provide some health benefits," says Messer. For example, ginger ale flavored by real ginger root has similar benefits of ginger, albeit in much smaller amounts. These may includehelp with nausea, indigestion and pain relief, explains Messer.

Even when real ginger root is used in ginger ale, however, the beverage still contains "high levels of sugar, which can reduce its health benefits," she adds. A single 12-ounce can of ginger ale has about 36 grams of added sugar - nearly 3/4 of one's entire daily value, based on a 2,000 calorie diet. What's more, many of the most popular ginger ale brands use artificial flavorings alone, so they have no such health benefits.

In either case, ginger ale is still soda, and numerous studies have linked drinking soda with an increased risk of obesity. "Ginger ale is not classified as a health food and should be consumed in moderation," advisesJamie Bering, MD, a gastroenterologist at Mayo Clinic in Arizona.

So why is ginger ale recommend to drink with an upset stomach?

Despite the downsides of drinking ginger ale, some people swear it can help with an upset stomach. Messer concedes that in rare varieties of ginger ale made through natural fermentation, there may be some such "potential health benefits due to the presence of beneficial bacteria and yeasts;" but says that in most cases, the "wisdom" of drinking soda for this reason is nothing more than an unfounded idea passed down from generation to generation. Namely, thepopular myth that the fizzy bubbles of carbonated soda can alleviate an upset stomach.

Such notions have been debunked, however, and most studies show that drinking soda, even when feeling queasy, likely does more harm than good."If ginger ale helps withnausea, it's only because of the ginger," says Young.

Messer agrees, and suggests sticking with the natural version of ginger and not the unhealthy carbonated one. "To enjoy the potential health benefits of ginger, consuming fresh ginger root or ginger powder may be a more reliable and beneficial option," she says. And for those who enjoy drinking ginger's distinctive flavors, she recommends trying "ginger tea or adding ground ginger to smoothies and other drinks to boost your intake of ginger without all the added sugar."

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Why some people believe ginger ale is good for you. (And why it's actually not.) (2024)


Why do people think ginger ale is good for you? ›

This is because ginger could help stimulate digestive enzymes and the production of bile, which can help break down food and speed up the digestion process. Ginger ale could be particularly helpful for those suffering from indigestion, as the carbonation in the drink can help ease bloating and gas.

Is ginger ale a healthier option? ›

In the case of artificially flavored ginger ale, the beverage has no more health benefits than any other soda, which, of course, are zero. But in the case of ginger ale flavored by real ginger root, the beverage has marginally more health benefits than other soft drinks.

Why do doctors tell you to drink ginger ale? ›

Ginger, a member of the plant family that includes turmeric and cardamom, has been proven to be effective at treating nausea and vomiting — two hallmarks of a classic upset stomach. In fact, ginger is even used to treat morning sickness, muscle pain and menstrual pain.

Is ginger ale actually good for you when sick? ›

Ginger ale.

While ginger in its natural form may have some cold and flu benefits, this carbonated, sugary version won't offer much relief. Soft drinks of any kind have very little of the nutrients and electrolytes you need to fight off sickness. Get your ginger in a mug of hot tea instead.

Does Canada Dry have real ginger in it? ›

Canada Dry Ginger Ale has always been made using real ginger extract to provide its ginger flavour,” she said.

What is the healthiest brand of ginger ale? ›

Zevia Zero Calorie Ginger Ale

Based on the nutrition label, this ginger ale is the healthiest with 0 of everything. It's made with carbonated water, stevia, natural flavors, citric acid and ginger extract.

Who should not drink ginger ale? ›

“Most commercial-brand ginger ales have at least 10 teaspoons of sugar,” says Dr. Goldman. “If a person has bloating, gas or indigestion, the carbonation and sugar may make it worse. Even diet ginger ale can be harmful because our bodies may not digest artificial sugars as well.”

Is Canada Dry Ginger Ale good for you? ›

Canada Dry Ginger Ale contains substantial amounts of sugar, contributing to increased daily caloric intake. Overconsumption of sugary drinks is associated with weight gain, type 2 diabetes, dental problems, and heart disease. Moderation is key.

Why do hospitals only give ginger ale? ›

The hospital did what caregivers have done for thousands of years: Reach for ginger root as an anti-emetic. When ginger ale was invented in the mid-19th century, it quickly became a bedside staple among people suffering from various causes of nausea and vomiting.

Who cannot take ginger? ›

Pregnant or breastfeeding women, people with heart conditions, and people with diabetes should not take ginger without talking to their doctors. DO NOT take ginger if you have a bleeding disorder or if you are taking blood-thinning medications, including aspirin.

Why do I feel better after drinking ginger ale? ›

The Bottom Line

While fresh ginger root has been shown to help alleviate nausea, most ginger ales aren't made with the real deal. But the carbonation in ginger ale may help settle your upset stomach, not to mention the association might be comforting to you.

What's better when sick Sprite or ginger ale? ›

Ginger ale: Ginger ale has the same potential benefits as Sprite, but it may also relieve nausea because it contains ginger. However, most commercial ginger ales contain very little real ginger. People can check ingredient labels to find out how much ginger a product contains.

What does ginger ale do to your stomach? ›

Ginger ale could help relieve stomachaches for some people, but only if it contains real ginger. A scientific review of more than 100 studies on the effects of ginger show moderate effectiveness in relieving nausea.

Is zero sugar ginger ale bad for you? ›

Diet ginger ale contains artificial sweeteners, which may be in the form of sugar alcohols. These calorie-free sweeteners can cause bloating or diarrhea, especially if you consume them in large amounts ( 16 ).

Why is ginger ale good for your belly? ›

She explains that ginger works to calm the spasms that occur in the smooth muscle, which is the type of muscle found in the stomach and other organs that comprise the digestive system. Walsh says that these spasms are likely what's causing your stomach to be in pain.

Does ginger ale hydrate you? ›

Ginger ale: Ginger ale is often consumed in an attempt to settle a queasy stomach. However, it is a soft drink that contains a lot of sugar, so, like Gatorade, it can worsen diarrhea. Unlike Gatorade, ginger ale doesn't have electrolytes, so it's advisable to avoid the drink if you need to rehydrate.

Why do people drink Sprite when sick? ›

Hydration: Sodas such as Sprite can replace fluids lost through vomiting and diarrhea. To avoid consuming too much sugar, people can dilute Sprite with water. Mild flavor: Intense flavors can worsen nausea. Sprite has a mild, sweet flavor that is palatable to most people.

Does Schweppes ginger ale have real ginger in it? ›

Ingredients: Both brands use high-quality ingredients, but Canada Dry highlights its natural flavors and real ginger extract, while Schweppes maintains its classic recipe with ginger root extract and high fructose corn syrup as a sweetener.

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