Serving a specific function long before “functional beverage” was a buzzword, ginger ale is among the most O.G. “classic” sodas around. From soothing upset stomachs to relieving nausea, ginger possesses medicinal properties that make it an incredibly useful and versatile ingredient.
And this classic with a long history is still hanging around as a popular soda today. But is it good for you? Now that’s a good question. Here, we explore some of the health benefits of ginger ale and what you need to know about this popular drink.
What Is Ginger Ale?
Ginger ale is a carbonated soft drink flavored with ginger, either from a natural or artificial source. It is typically made by mixing carbonated water, ginger or ginger extract, sweeteners, and sometimes citric acid or other flavorings. It’s known for its distinct spicy and sweet taste, which comes from the natural compounds found in ginger. But this ginger zing can vary in intensity, depending on the brand and recipe.
Traditionally, ginger ale was made by fermenting ginger root with water and sugar, creating a slightly alcoholic beverage. However, most commercially available ginger ales today are non-alcoholic. It's also important to note that there are different variations of ginger ale available, including those made with real ginger and natural ingredients versus those with artificial sweeteners and high fructose corn syrup. Some brands may also offer ginger beer, which tends to have a stronger ginger flavor and can be spicier compared to ginger ale. And a perhaps surprising fun fact is that some ginger ales contain no real ginger at all!
Health Benefits of Ginger Ale
In addition to its taste, ginger ale is also known for its potential digestive benefits. Ginger has long been used as a natural remedy for nausea and indigestion, and consuming ginger ale could provide some relief for these symptoms. (Which would explain why ginger ale has long been a favorite among air travelers experiencing nerves or nausea!)
Let’s learn more about two of these potential ginger ale benefits that you may see if you choose a ginger ale made with enough real ginger:
Remedy for Nausea
One of the most well-known uses of ginger is as a remedy for nausea. Ginger could help reduce feelings of nausea and vomiting due to its ability to soothe the digestive system and reduce inflammation. Drinking ginger ale can be particularly helpful for those suffering from morning sickness, motion sickness, or nausea.
Ginger is commonly used to ease various digestive issues such as nausea, vomiting, indigestion, and bloating. 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.
Ginger Ale Ingredients
When it comes to the nutritional content of ginger ale, most commercial brands contain a significant amount of sugar and not much ginger. This means that the benefits mentioned above rely heavily on the specific ingredients you’ll find on the back of your ginger ale can.
Here are the typical ingredients found in most commercially available ginger ales:
- Carbonated water: The base of ginger ale is carbonated or sparkling water, which gives it its effervescent nature.
- High fructose corn syrup: Ginger ale is typically sweetened to balance the spiciness of the ginger. One of the top sweeteners in a commercial can of ginger ale (and the reason for its addictive sweet flavor) is high fructose corn syrup. Corn syrup is a chain of glucose or simple sugar that forms from corn starch. You get high fructose corn syrup by converting some of that glucose into fructose, or fruit sugar. Diet versions of ginger ale might substitute this for artificial sweeteners like aspartame or sucralose.
- Ginger flavoring or extract: Ginger ale gets its distinctive flavor from ginger. Commercial brands often use ginger flavoring or extract, which can be derived from ginger root or other sources.
- Citric acid: Some ginger ale recipes include citric acid to add a slightly tart or sour taste and act as a preservative.
- Sodium Benzoate: This is an FDA-approved chemical preservative used by manufacturers to extend ginger ale's shelf life and increase its freshness. Although generally recognized as safe by the FDA, sodium benzoate can form benzene, a known carcinogen, when combined with ascorbic acid, or Vitamin C.
- Caramel color: This is a food coloring added to a lot of sodas to create that familiar dark coloring. It’s made with ammonium compounds, which can, in the manufacturing process, form a chemical compound called 4-methylimidazole (4-MEI), a possible carcinogen.
- Additional flavorings: Some brands may include additional flavorings, such as lemon, lime, or other citrus flavors, to enhance the taste of the ginger ale.
While ginger itself is low in calories and packed with nutrients such as potassium and magnesium, the high sugar content in most commercial cans of ginger ale can be a cause for concern. It's important to read labels carefully and opt for ginger ale brands that are low in sugar or even sugar-free.
Introducing OLIPOP Ginger Ale
But it’s not all high-sugar in the soda aisle! There are variations of ginger ale available that may use natural ingredients and real ginger, like OLIPOP! At OLIPOP, we put a modern twist on ginger ale. Our formula? Keep everything about ginger ale that you know and love and feel nostalgic for, while reintroducing it in a modern better-for-you light.
Here are the ingredients you’ll find in OLIPOP Ginger Ale:
- Carbonated Water
- OLISMART (Cassava Root Fiber, Chicory Root Inulin, Jerusalem Artichoke Inulin, Nopal Cactus, Marshmallow Root, Calendula Flower, Kudzu Root)
- Lime Juice
- Quince Juice Concentrate
- Apple Juice Concentrate
- Cassava Root Syrup
- Ginger Juice
- Lemon Juice
- Natural Ginger Ale Flavor
- Himalayan Pink Salt
Our OLISmart blend uses multiple sources of fiber, prebiotics, and botanicals to increase nutritional diversity and feed a broad spectrum of beneficial gut bacteria with every sip. The combination of fruit acids from the lemon, quince, lime, and apple juice creates a tart tonic flavor that gives way to a mild combination of non-spicy ginger and mulling spices. In other words, it’s the best of both worlds. A modern twist on a traditional beverage, with less sugar and more taste with every sip.
Is Ginger Ale Good for You?
So, is ginger ale good for you? It depends. Ginger itself has a ton of health benefits, from aiding digestion to reducing inflammation and alleviating nausea. It’s also a popular choice for relieving symptoms of motion or morning sickness. But most ginger ales don’t contain much or any ginger. And their high sugar content keeps them as far away from healthy as possible. In fact, one 12-ounce can of ginger ale could contain over 36 grams of added sugar.
But with OLIPOP Ginger Ale, the story is a bit different. We’re low-sugar and high-fiber, unlike those other traditional ginger ale out there. Plus, our OLIPOP Ginger Ale contains delicious juices from sweet lime, quince, and mild real ginger to create a uniquely sophisticated yet nostalgic ginger ale flavor that will keep you wanting more.
Ginger Ale: The Takeaway
There are a lot of great things about ginger ale. For one, it can be soothing for an upset stomach and help ease nausea or vomiting, making it a popular choice for relieving symptoms of motion or morning sickness. It’s also a favorite among travelers who are experiencing nerves or nausea—or just want a delicious mixed drink.
But when considering ginger ale, it's crucial to look at the specific brand, ingredients, and nutritional content. Opting for a ginger ale made with natural ingredients and less added sugar like OLIPOP, or even making your own ginger ale at home using fresh ginger, can be a healthier alternative. Because here at OLIPOP we believe that all ginger ale lovers deserve a fresh can of tart, spicy flavor without all that extra unhealthy stuff added in. So next time you're feeling under the weather or looking for a refreshing beverage, reach for a crisp, cold glass of OLIPOP Ginger Ale.
- U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025. 9th Edition. December 2020. Available at https://www.dietaryguidelines.gov/sites/default/files/2020-12/Dietary_Guidelines_for_Americans_2020-2025.pdf
- Slattery, E. (2022, November 1). Ginger benefits. Johns Hopkins Medicine. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/ginger-benefits
- Mikstas, C. (2022, December 1). Health benefits of ginger. WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/diet/ss/slideshow-health-benefits-ginger
- High Fructose Corn Syrup Questions and Answers. U.S. Food and Drug Administration, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 4 Jan. 2018, www.fda.gov/food/food-additives-petitions/high-fructose-corn-syrup-questions-and-answers.
- Smith, Tyler J. S., Julia A. Wolfson, Ding Jiao, Michael J. Crupain, Urvashi Rangan, Amir Sapkota, Sara N. Bleich, and Keeve E. Nachman. “Caramel Color in Soft Drinks and Exposure to 4-Methylimidazole: A Quantitative Risk Assessment.” Edited by Maciej Buchowski. PLOS ONE 10, no. 2 (February 18, 2015): e0118138. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0118138
- Questions and Answers on the Occurrence of Benzene. U.S. Food and Drug Administration, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 24 Jan. 2018, www.fda.gov/food/chemical-contaminants-food/questions-and-answers-occurrence-benzene-soft-drinks-and-other-beverages.
- Ginger ale is a carbonated soft drink flavored with ginger, either from a natural or artificial source. It’s known for its distinct spicy and sweet taste, which comes from the natural compounds found in ginger.
- Traditionally, ginger ale was made by fermenting ginger root with water and sugar, creating a slightly alcoholic beverage. But today it’s typically made by mixing carbonated water, ginger or ginger extract, sweeteners, and sometimes citric acid or other flavorings.
- Ginger itself has a ton of health benefits, from aiding digestion to reducing inflammation and alleviating nausea. But most ginger ales don’t contain much or any ginger. And their high sugar content keeps them as far away from healthy as possible.
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