Is Ginger Ale Good For You? The Potential Pros And Cons

The bottom line on ginger ale soda.

Our diet and nutrition resources are rigorously vetted by our expert team and adhere to our Diet and Nutrition Guidelines.

When I was growing up, whenever my sisters or I had a stomach bug, my parents gave us ginger ale to relieve nausea and provide some hydration and calories.

Ginger ale has long been a home remedy for nausea, and many people believe it is one of the healthiest sodas due to the demonstrated health benefits of ginger.

But is ginger ale actually healthy, or is it just another sugary soda that you should avoid? Is ginger ale good for you if you have nausea? What about diet ginger ale?

Ginerale is generally not good for you and should not be a regular part of a healthy, day to day diet.

In this nutrition guide, we will discuss the different types of ginger ale, the potential health benefits and downsides of ginger ale, and ultimately get into the nitty gritty of your question, “Is ginger ale good for you?”

Let’s get started!

A person drinking a soda.

What Is Ginger Ale?

Ginger ale is a popular type of soda that is either made with ginger or flavored to taste like ginger.

People generally consume ginger ale soda on its own, but it may be mixed into cocktails or other drinks, and some commercial manufacturers now have flavored ginger ale such as raspberry ginger ale.

Most commercial ginger ale is made as a carbonated beverage with sugar or high fructose corn syrup as a sweetener and either natural or artificial ginger flavoring.

There is also diet ginger ale, a soft drink that uses artificial sweeteners instead of sugar or high fructose corn syrup. Diet ginger ale is marketed as 0 calories ginger ale.

Soda cans.

What Are The Different Types Of Ginger Ale?

In sum, there are several different types of ginger ale soda:

  • Regular Ginger Ale: Regular commercial Ginger ale soda is made with carbonated water, sugar or high fructose corn syrup, and some type of ginger. Some additional ingredients, such as preservatives and/or coloring, may exist. Some commercial ginger ales use a combination of natural and artificial flavoring, describing the ginger flavor as a “proprietary blend.”
  • Dry Ginger Ale: “Dry Ginger Ale” is basically just a marketing term used to describe a spicier, more astringent ginger flavor to the ginger ale rather than a cloyingly sweet ginger ale soda. Otherwise, the dry ginger ale ingredients will generally be the same as regular ginger ale, but the soda might have more actual ginger root and/or more ginger flavoring.
  • Diet Ginger Ale: Diet ginger ale uses artificial sweeteners or other non-caloric sweeteners. The result is a calorie-free ginger ale, but the soda still contains tons of processed ingredients.
  • Probiotic Ginger Ale: An increasing number of healthier soda alternatives are now making ginger ale options that have prebiotic fiber and less sugar. These low-calorie ginger ale soda alternatives may have real ginger and may be fermented to add probiotics as well, depending on the prebiotic soda.

Some natural ginger ale sodas use yeast or SCOBY, much like kombucha, and homemade ginger ale may have steeped ginger or a microbial starter to add probiotics and then go through the fermentation process for additional benefits.

Unlike sodas such as Coke, Pepsi, and Mountain Dew, ginger ale is generally uncaffeinated, so it does not contain caffeine unless specifically marketed as such.

A glass of ginger ale.

Does Ginger Ale Help With Digestion Or Nausea?

People often consume ginger ale for its perceived health benefits, particularly in terms of decreasing nausea and promoting digestion.

Ginger has long been used as a natural herbal remedy for maladies relating to digestive distress.

While numerous studies have demonstrated the potential health benefits of ginger, none of these studies have specifically looked at ginger ale soda.

Furthermore, most commercial ginger ale sold on grocery shelves or in convenience stores does not even contain real ginger root.

Therefore, many of the purported health benefits of ginger ale are likely unsubstantiated and really only pertain to actual fresh ginger root. 

That said, here are some of the potential health benefits of ginger:

Ginger ale.

#1: Ginger Can Decrease Nausea and Support Digestion

Ginger is well known to alleviate nausea, whether due to morning sickness in pregnancy, side effects from chemotherapy, stomach illnesses, bloating, an upset stomach or general nausea.1Anh, N. H., Kim, S. J., Long, N. P., Min, J. E., Yoon, Y. C., Lee, E. G., Kim, M., Kim, T. J., Yang, Y. Y., Son, E. Y., Yoon, S. J., Diem, N. C., Kim, H. M., & Kwon, S. W. (2020). Ginger on Human Health: A Comprehensive Systematic Review of 109 Randomized Controlled Trials. Nutrients12(1), 157. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12010157

‌Ginger can also increase the production of digestive juices, thereby stimulating digestion.2Nikkhah Bodagh, M., Maleki, I., & Hekmatdoost, A. (2018). Ginger in Gastrointestinal disorders: a Systematic Review of Clinical Trials. Food Science & Nutrition7(1), 96–108. https://doi.org/10.1002/fsn3.807

#2: Ginger Is an Antioxidant

According to research, gingerols (the active compounds in ginger root) and other phenolic compounds in ginger exert strong antioxidant activities, acting as free radical scavengers in the body to reduce oxidative damage.3Mashhadi, N. S., Ghiasvand, R., Askari, G., Hariri, M., Darvishi, L., & Mofid, M. R. (2013). Anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory effects of ginger in health and physical activity: review of current evidence. International Journal of Preventive Medicine4(Suppl 1), S36-42. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3665023/

‌Oxidative damage can put the body in a pro-inflammatory state and can damage cells, proteins, tissues, and nucleic acids, leading to a variety of adverse health effects, including premature aging.

#3: Ginger Can Reduce Insulin Levels

Studies show that ginger can reduce body mass index (BMI) and circulating insulin levels. As high blood insulin levels are associated with obesity and the development of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes, ginger chews can potentially lower your disease risk as well.4Maharlouei, N., Tabrizi, R., Lankarani, K. B., Rezaianzadeh, A., Akbari, M., Kolahdooz, F., Rahimi, M., Keneshlou, F., & Asemi, Z. (2018). The effects of ginger intake on weight loss and metabolic profiles among overweight and obese subjects: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition59(11), 1753–1766. https://doi.org/10.1080/10408398.2018.1427044

Ginger ale.

#4: Ginger May Reduce Muscle Soreness

There’s evidence to suggest that ginger may help reduce muscle soreness after exercise.5Cd, B., Mp, H., Dj, H., & Pj, O. (2010, September 1). Ginger (Zingiber Officinale) Reduces Muscle Pain Caused by Eccentric Exercise. The Journal of Pain : Official Journal of the American Pain Society. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20418184/

#5: Ginger May Alleviate Dizziness

Some evidence suggests that ginger might decrease dizziness and vertigo.6Grøntved, A., & Hentzer, E. (1986). Vertigo-Reducing Effect of Ginger Root. ORL48(5), 282–286. https://doi.org/10.1159/000275883

#6: Ginger May Reduce Joint Pain

Studies suggest that compounds in ginger may help reduce the joint pain associated with osteoarthritis.7Altman, R. D., & Marcussen, K. C. (2001). Effects of a ginger extract on knee pain in patients with osteoarthritis. Arthritis & Rheumatism44(11), 2531–2538. https://doi.org/10.1002/1529-0131(200111)44:11%3C2531::aid-art433%3E3.0.co;2-j

‌If you have chronic knee pain or other cartilaginous damage and arthritic pain when you run, ginger chews may potentially help you log miles more comfortably.

#7: Ginger May Reduce the Risk of Certain Cancers

Ginger has been shown to possess strong anti-cancer properties.8Bode, A. M., & Dong, Z. (2011). The Amazing and Mighty Ginger. Nih.gov; CRC Press/Taylor & Francis. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK92775/

‌Specifically, ginger may reduce the risk of cancer and its components have been shown to be effective against gastric, pancreatic, liver, colorectal cancers and cholangiocarcinoma (bile duct) cancer.9Prasad, S., & Tyagi, A. K. (2015). Ginger and Its Constituents: Role in Prevention and Treatment of Gastrointestinal Cancer. Gastroenterology Research and Practice2015, 1–11. https://doi.org/10.1155/2015/142979

Ginger ale.

Is Ginger Ale Good For You?

So, is ginger ale good for you?

The short answer is no, ginger ale is not good for you and certainly can’t be considered healthy or nutritious. Firstly, most ginger ale does not even contain real ginger, meaning that you won’t derive the health benefits of ginger from ginger ale soda.

Secondly, regular ginger ale is packed with sugar.

A 12-ounce can of Schweppes (one of the ginger ale brands) has 120 calories and 33 grams of added sugar. (Note, this math doesn’t really compute because there are 4 kcals in a gram of sugar, so 33 x 4 = 132 calories).

There are about 4 grams of sugar in a teaspoon of sugar, so 33 grams of sugar is about 8 teaspoons of sugar.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020–2025 recommends limiting the intake of added sugars to less than 10% of your total daily calories.10USDA. (2020). Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020 -2025 Make Every Bite Count With the Dietary Guidelines. https://www.dietaryguidelines.gov/sites/default/files/2020-12/Dietary_Guidelines_for_Americans_2020-2025.pdf#page=31

‌A 2,000-calorie diet would entail eating a maximum of 200 calories from added sugars, which is about 12 teaspoons, and smaller individuals who consume fewer calories should cap their sugar intake at a lower level equivalent to no more than 10% of their daily caloric intake.

Therefore, one can of regular ginger ale is about ⅔ of the total sugar you should have at most per day.

Sweetened beverages, like ginger ale soda, are the primary source of added sugars in the typical American diet.11CDC. (2018, October 23). Get the Facts: Sugar-Sweetened Beverages and Consumption . Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/data-statistics/sugar-sweetened-beverages-intake.html

Ginger ale.

What Are The Nutritional Impacts Of Consuming Ginger Ale Regularly?

Studies suggest that regularly drinking soda or sugar-sweetened drinks can put you at an increased risk of dental cavities and periodontal disease, fatty liver disease, obesity, cardiovascular disease, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, depression, metabolic syndrome, and gut dysfunction.12Malik, V. S., Li, Y., Pan, A., De Koning, L., Schernhammer, E., Willett, W. C., & Hu, F. B. (2019). Long-Term Consumption of Sugar-Sweetened and Artificially Sweetened Beverages and Risk of Mortality in US Adults. Circulation139(18), 2113–2125. https://doi.org/10.1161/circulationaha.118.037401

‌Furthermore, the second ingredient listed on Schwepps Ginger Ale is high fructose corn syrup.

The body metabolizes high fructose corn syrup differently than cane sugar or sucrose, making high fructose corn syrup even worse for you.

This highly processed sugar is associated with fat production in the liver and belly fat.13Hernández-Díazcouder, A., Romero-Nava, R., Carbó, R., Sánchez-Lozada, L. G., & Sánchez-Muñoz, F. (2019). High Fructose Intake and Adipogenesis. International Journal of Molecular Sciences20(11). https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms20112787

Studies have found that diets high in processed forms of fructose, such as high fructose corn syrup, are linked to a higher rate of obesity, metabolic syndrome, abdominal fat, systemic inflammation, gout, high blood pressure, leptin resistance, and insulin resistance.14Pereira, R., Botezelli, J., da Cruz Rodrigues, K., Mekary, R., Cintra, D., Pauli, J., da Silva, A., Ropelle, E., & de Moura, L. (2017). Fructose Consumption in the Development of Obesity and the Effects of Different Protocols of Physical Exercise on the Hepatic Metabolism. Nutrients9(4), 405. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu9040405

Bubbles.

‌Aside from being packed with added sugars, ginger ale is devoid of any real nutritional value.

Ginger ale produced by most commercial manufacturers also contains preservatives such as citric acid and sodium benzoate. 

Citric acid has been found to cause whole-body inflammation in some individuals. It may also exacerbate heartburn or GERD in people with digestive problems.15Sweis, I. E., & Cressey, B. C. (2018). Potential role of the common food additive manufactured citric acid in eliciting significant inflammatory reactions contributing to serious disease states: A series of four case reports. Toxicology Reports5, 808–812. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.toxrep.2018.08.002

‌Consumed in excess, citric acid can also be damaging to tooth enamel because it is acidic and can cause erosion of your enamel.

There is also usually caramel color to differentiate the “ginger ale color“ versus another soda pop such as Sprite or 7-Up.

Diet ginger ale is also not healthy.

While diet ginger ale does not have the calories or sugar content, research surrounding the long-term safety and health implications of artificial sweeteners is not yet conclusive.

However, evidence suggests that artificial sweeteners can be deleterious to your health, potentially causing weight gain, metabolic changes, and increasing the risk of certain cancers.

All in all, occasionally drinking ginger is okay, but it should not be a regular part of a healthy diet.

Cans of soda.

References

  • 1
    Anh, N. H., Kim, S. J., Long, N. P., Min, J. E., Yoon, Y. C., Lee, E. G., Kim, M., Kim, T. J., Yang, Y. Y., Son, E. Y., Yoon, S. J., Diem, N. C., Kim, H. M., & Kwon, S. W. (2020). Ginger on Human Health: A Comprehensive Systematic Review of 109 Randomized Controlled Trials. Nutrients12(1), 157. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12010157
  • 2
    Nikkhah Bodagh, M., Maleki, I., & Hekmatdoost, A. (2018). Ginger in Gastrointestinal disorders: a Systematic Review of Clinical Trials. Food Science & Nutrition7(1), 96–108. https://doi.org/10.1002/fsn3.807
  • 3
    Mashhadi, N. S., Ghiasvand, R., Askari, G., Hariri, M., Darvishi, L., & Mofid, M. R. (2013). Anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory effects of ginger in health and physical activity: review of current evidence. International Journal of Preventive Medicine4(Suppl 1), S36-42. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3665023/
  • 4
    Maharlouei, N., Tabrizi, R., Lankarani, K. B., Rezaianzadeh, A., Akbari, M., Kolahdooz, F., Rahimi, M., Keneshlou, F., & Asemi, Z. (2018). The effects of ginger intake on weight loss and metabolic profiles among overweight and obese subjects: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition59(11), 1753–1766. https://doi.org/10.1080/10408398.2018.1427044
  • 5
    Cd, B., Mp, H., Dj, H., & Pj, O. (2010, September 1). Ginger (Zingiber Officinale) Reduces Muscle Pain Caused by Eccentric Exercise. The Journal of Pain : Official Journal of the American Pain Society. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20418184/
  • 6
    Grøntved, A., & Hentzer, E. (1986). Vertigo-Reducing Effect of Ginger Root. ORL48(5), 282–286. https://doi.org/10.1159/000275883
  • 7
    Altman, R. D., & Marcussen, K. C. (2001). Effects of a ginger extract on knee pain in patients with osteoarthritis. Arthritis & Rheumatism44(11), 2531–2538. https://doi.org/10.1002/1529-0131(200111)44:11%3C2531::aid-art433%3E3.0.co;2-j
  • 8
    Bode, A. M., & Dong, Z. (2011). The Amazing and Mighty Ginger. Nih.gov; CRC Press/Taylor & Francis. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK92775/
  • 9
    Prasad, S., & Tyagi, A. K. (2015). Ginger and Its Constituents: Role in Prevention and Treatment of Gastrointestinal Cancer. Gastroenterology Research and Practice2015, 1–11. https://doi.org/10.1155/2015/142979
  • 10
    USDA. (2020). Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020 -2025 Make Every Bite Count With the Dietary Guidelines. https://www.dietaryguidelines.gov/sites/default/files/2020-12/Dietary_Guidelines_for_Americans_2020-2025.pdf#page=31
  • 11
    CDC. (2018, October 23). Get the Facts: Sugar-Sweetened Beverages and Consumption . Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/data-statistics/sugar-sweetened-beverages-intake.html
  • 12
    Malik, V. S., Li, Y., Pan, A., De Koning, L., Schernhammer, E., Willett, W. C., & Hu, F. B. (2019). Long-Term Consumption of Sugar-Sweetened and Artificially Sweetened Beverages and Risk of Mortality in US Adults. Circulation139(18), 2113–2125. https://doi.org/10.1161/circulationaha.118.037401
  • 13
    Hernández-Díazcouder, A., Romero-Nava, R., Carbó, R., Sánchez-Lozada, L. G., & Sánchez-Muñoz, F. (2019). High Fructose Intake and Adipogenesis. International Journal of Molecular Sciences20(11). https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms20112787
  • 14
    Pereira, R., Botezelli, J., da Cruz Rodrigues, K., Mekary, R., Cintra, D., Pauli, J., da Silva, A., Ropelle, E., & de Moura, L. (2017). Fructose Consumption in the Development of Obesity and the Effects of Different Protocols of Physical Exercise on the Hepatic Metabolism. Nutrients9(4), 405. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu9040405
  • 15
    Sweis, I. E., & Cressey, B. C. (2018). Potential role of the common food additive manufactured citric acid in eliciting significant inflammatory reactions contributing to serious disease states: A series of four case reports. Toxicology Reports5, 808–812. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.toxrep.2018.08.002
Photo of author
Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, as well as a NASM-Certified Nutrition Coach and UESCA-certified running, endurance nutrition, and triathlon coach. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a Certified Personal Trainer and running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, she likes running, cycling, cooking, and tackling any type of puzzle.

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