Dr. Robert Cook - Is It Bad For You? Approved by Dr. Robert Cook

Is Ginger Beer Bad For You?



Short answer

Ginger beer can be both beneficial and harmful, depending on its content and the amount consumed. High-sugar ginger beers may lead to weight gain and other health issues, while those with artificial sweeteners carry controversial health concerns. Conversely, real ginger has anti-inflammatory and digestive benefits. Non-alcoholic ginger beers with minimal sugar can be part of a balanced diet when consumed in moderation. Safety of artificial sweeteners and the actual ginger content in diet ginger beers vary, making it vital to choose wisely based on personal health goals.



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Long answer

Sugar Content in Ginger Beer and Health Implications

Ginger beer, often enjoyed for its spicy kick and refreshing taste, contains varying amounts of sugar that can have significant health implications. This bubbly beverage can be part of a healthy diet when consumed in moderation. However, frequent consumption of sugar-rich ginger beer may pose risks.

The sugar content in ginger beer can range from minimal to quite high, with some brands offering lower-sugar or sugar-free alternatives. It's essential to read the nutritional information on the label carefully, as a single serving of a regular ginger beer may contain more sugar than the recommended daily intake.

  • Added Sugars: Some ginger beers contain 'added sugars,' which refer to sugars that are added during the processing of foods. The American Heart Association recommends limiting the amount of added sugars one should consume to no more than 100 calories per day (about 6 teaspoons or 24 grams) for most women and no more than 150 calories per day (about 9 teaspoons or 36 grams) for most men.
  • Natural Sugars: If a ginger beer is sweetened naturally, using ingredients such as honey or fruit juices, it's still important to note that these sugars have the same impact on your body as added sugars. Hence, the consumption recommendation doesn't change.
  • Artificial Sweeteners: Some brands may use artificial sweeteners to reduce the sugar content. While they may not contribute calories or raise blood sugar levels, consuming artificial sweeteners excessively has its own set of controversies and health concerns.

Consistently consuming beverages high in sugars can lead to health issues including weight gain, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and dental problems such as cavities. A study published in The Journal of Nutrition (2015) demonstrated that higher intake of sugary beverages, including ginger beer, is associated with greater risk of cardiovascular disease among women.

For individuals watching their sugar intake due to diabetes or other health conditions, it's especially crucial to either avoid high-sugar ginger beers or opt for a lower-sugar version. The impact of sugary drinks on blood glucose levels is notable, and thus should be managed carefully as part of a comprehensive dietary plan.

Showcasing the potential adverse effects of regular high-sugar beverage consumption, a study in Circulation (2012) revealed that individuals who had one to two servings per day of a sugar-sweetened beverage had a 26% higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes than those who rarely drank such beverages.

While the occasional indulgence in ginger beer may not pose a significant health risk for most individuals, being mindful of its sugar content is necessary. Choosing ginger beers with reduced sugar content or consuming it less frequently can help mitigate these health risks.

Moderation is key, and as a consumer, staying informed about the sugar content in your ginger beer—and all beverages—is critical for maintaining good health and making smarter dietary choices.

Artificial Sweeteners in Diet Ginger Beer: Are They Safer?

When it comes to diet ginger beer, one of the primary concerns for health-conscious consumers is the presence of artificial sweeteners. These sweeteners are often used as a substitute for sugar to provide a desirable sweet taste without the accompanying calories. However, their use has been a subject of much debate among health experts, leaving many consumers questioning whether they are a safer choice. Let’s delve into the main artificial sweeteners found in diet ginger beer and explore their health implications.

Common Artificial Sweeteners Used

  • Aspartame – Known for its sweetness, which can be up to 200 times sweeter than sugar.
  • Sucralose – It's about 600 times sweeter than sugar and is often found in “sugar-free” beverages.
  • Acesulfame Potassium (Ace-K) – Approximately 200 times sweeter than sugar and commonly used in conjunction with other sweeteners to enhance sweetness.

Safety and Regulatory Status

These sweeteners have passed the safety reviews of various health regulatory bodies, including the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) in Europe. Studies supporting their safety have led to an Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) being set for each sweetener, which is the maximum amount considered safe to consume each day over the course of a lifetime.

Potential Health Concerns

  • Aspartame: Some studies suggest aspartame might be associated with neurological effects, such as headaches or mood alterations. However, the EFSA concluded that aspartame intake below the ADI does not pose these risks.
  • Sucralose: Research on sucralose's long-term effects is ongoing, but current evidence does not conclusively link it to serious health issues when consumed within the ADI.
  • Acesulfame Potassium: While generally considered safe, some studies have raised questions about its impact on metabolic health, particularly in relation to how it may affect blood sugar and insulin levels.

Personal Sensitivities and Preferences

While artificial sweeteners may not pose significant health risks within the established ADIs, some individuals may experience personal sensitivities, such as digestive discomfort or allergic reactions. It’s also important to consider that some consumers may simply prefer to avoid artificial additives due to personal dietary choices or philosophies.

Alternatives to Artificial Sweeteners

For those looking to avoid artificial sweeteners while enjoying diet ginger beer, natural low-calorie sweeteners like stevia or monk fruit extract might be acceptable alternatives. These sweeteners are derived from natural sources and often viewed as more "natural" options, though it's essential to review individual reactions and preferences.

In conclusion, whether artificial sweeteners in diet ginger beer are considered safer largely depends on individual health conditions, dietary restrictions, and personal preferences. It is crucial for consumers to conduct thorough research and consult with health professionals when deciding which beverages to include in their diet.

Possible Benefits of Real Ginger in Ginger Beer

While ginger beer is often enjoyed for its zesty and bold flavor, the real ginger content within this popular beverage can offer a variety of health benefits. Here's an analysis of how the inclusion of genuine ginger could be advantageous for those who indulge in ginger beer:

  • Anti-Inflammatory Properties: Ginger contains bioactive compounds like gingerol, which are known for their anti-inflammatory effects. According to a study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food, ginger's anti-inflammatory properties can help in reducing muscle pain post-exercise and may aid in managing symptoms associated with osteoarthritis.
  • Antioxidant Effects: Ginger also provides powerful antioxidants. These compounds are crucial for neutralizing harmful free radicals in the body, and as stated in the International Journal of Preventive Medicine, antioxidants play a significant role in preventing chronic diseases.
  • Gastrointestinal Relief: The consumption of ginger has been linked to alleviating nausea and vomiting. Research, including a review in the European Review for Medical and Pharmacological Sciences, has shown ginger to be an effective option for reducing nausea caused by pregnancy, chemotherapy, and surgery.
  • Blood Sugar Regulation: A study in the Iranian Journal of Pharmaceutical Research suggested that ginger might improve insulin sensitivity and help regulate blood sugar levels, which could be beneficial for individuals with diabetes or those at risk.
  • Cholesterol-Lowering Potential: Ginger consumption might aid in lowering LDL cholesterol levels, which is considered the 'bad' cholesterol. Per a study in the Journal of Nutrition, these properties of ginger can contribute to a reduced risk of heart disease.

It's important to note, however, that the benefits listed are associated with the consumption of real ginger, and commercial ginger beers vary widely in their actual ginger content. Some brands may use only a trace amount of ginger or rely on artificial flavors instead. Thus, if you're drinking ginger beer with the intention of reaping health benefits, it's crucial to select a brand that specifies the use of real ginger and offers transparency regarding the amount included.

Furthermore, while ginger itself holds these possible benefits, ginger beer is often sweetened and should be consumed in moderation. The sugar content in ginger beer can outweigh the benefits of ginger if consumed in excess, leading to potential negative health implications such as weight gain and increased sugar intake.

Alcohol Content in Ginger Beer: Misconceptions Clarified

Ginger beer often stirs up a bit of confusion due to its name, which implies an alcoholic brew similar to ginger ale's malty cousin. However, ginger beer is primarily a non-alcoholic beverage. Despite the word 'beer' in its name, traditional ginger beer typically contains less than 0.5% alcohol by volume as a result of the natural fermentation process. This percentage lands it safely within the non-alcoholic category according to United States law, which permits beverages under 0.5% alcohol by volume to be labeled as non-alcoholic. Some authentic recipes for homemade ginger beer may result in higher alcohol content if left to ferment for longer periods, but commercially sold ginger beer usually adheres to these low levels.

For those watching their alcohol intake for health or dietary reasons, ginger beer can generally be enjoyed without concern for its alcohol content. However, consumers should remain aware that not all ginger-flavored beverages are created equal. Here's a quick rundown of the main types:

  • Non-Alcoholic Ginger Beer: This version is what we typically find on supermarket shelves. It is characterized by its strong, spicy ginger flavor and often contains added carbonation. Consumed for its taste and potential gastrointestinal benefits, this ginger beer is fit for all ages and those avoiding alcohol.
  • Alcoholic Ginger Beer: Though less common, there are fermented ginger beers available that do contain alcohol levels similar to traditional beers (around 4-6% alcohol by volume). These are obviously intended for adult consumption and should be consumed responsibly.
  • Ginger Ale: Not to be confused with ginger beer, ginger ale is a sweetened, ginger-flavored, non-alcoholic carbonated soft drink. It's typically milder with a less pronounced ginger flavor.

For individuals who may be abstinent, pregnant, or have other considerations, always checking the label can provide assurance of a beverage's alcohol content. In addition to the percentage of alcohol, one should also consider the presence of other additives or sugars that might make a 'healthier' choice less so.

In the realm of mixology, ginger beer is a popular choice for cocktails such as the Moscow Mule and Dark 'n' Stormy. When mixed with spirits, the resultant drink definitely contains alcohol, and the digestion and metabolism processes follow those of typical alcoholic beverages. Hence, while ginger beer by itself may not pose a risk for alcohol consumption, when used as a mixer in alcoholic drinks, it should be consumed with the same level of caution as any other alcoholic beverage.

Studies focusing on the health implications of non-alcoholic fermented beverages suggest mild health benefits due to the presence of probiotics and anti-inflammatory properties of ginger. However, a systematic review of these studies is necessary to make definitive health claims. Moreover, the low alcohol content found in traditional non-alcoholic ginger beers is unlikely to present a health detriment when consumed in moderation.

In conclusion, while ginger beer may carry the name 'beer,' it is important for consumers to understand the distinctions in its variations. This knowledge empowers individuals to make informed choices based on their health goals and dietary restrictions.

Ginger Beer and Its Caloric Contribution to Diet

When discussing the caloric impact of ginger beer on one's diet, it is essential to distinguish between traditional ginger beer and its modern commercial cousins. The caloric content of ginger beer can vary significantly from one brand to another, influenced by factors like additional sweeteners and flavorings. Let's delve into the details.

Traditional Homemade Ginger Beer: A customary ginger beer, brewed at home with natural ingredients like ginger root, lemon juice, and a sweetener, often honey or sugar, can have a more controlled caloric content. Such beverages, which rely on the fermentation process, tend to have fewer calories due to the partial consumption of sugars by yeast during fermentation.

Commercial Ginger Beer: Store-bought ginger beers are typically non-alcoholic soft drinks, crafted for flavor rather than for fermentation benefits. They can contain a substantial amount of added sugars. According to Nutrition Data, an average 12 oz (355 ml) serving of commercial ginger beer contains approximately 100-200 calories, the majority of which come from sugars. This is akin to other sweetened carbonated beverages.

Caloric Density: The caloric density of ginger beer is an important consideration, especially for those monitoring their caloric intake for weight management or health reasons. Beverages high in calories and sugars, with little to no nutritional value, can contribute to an increase in daily caloric intake, potentially leading to weight gain.

Energy Source: While calories provide energy for the body, it is important to draw a distinction between calorically dense foods and nutrient-dense foods. The calories from ginger beer are primarily from simple carbohydrates that offer quick energy but lack the sustaining nutrients found in whole foods.

Comparison to Other Beverages: When comparing ginger beer to other common beverages, it is often less caloric than a similar serving of creamy coffee drinks or fruit smoothies but more caloric than plain water, flavored seltzer, or herbal tea. An aware consumer should always check the label for specific nutritional information, considering their overall dietary goals and needs.

Recommendations for Consumption: Moderation is key. While an occasional ginger beer may fit into a balanced diet, frequent consumption—especially of varieties high in added sugars—could significantly increase an individual's caloric intake. Health experts, such as those at the American Heart Association, suggest limiting added sugars due to their association with an increased risk of heart disease and other health conditions.

Ultimately, assessing the caloric contribution of ginger beer to one’s diet involves a careful evaluation of the type of ginger beer, its ingredients, and the frequency of consumption. Consumers should be mindful of the added sugars in their choice of ginger beer and always opt for a balance with nutrient-dense foods to maintain optimal health.

The Impact of Carbonation from Ginger Beer on Digestive Health

When considering the effects of ginger beer on digestive health, the carbonation factor cannot be ignored. Carbonation results from the presence of carbon dioxide, which, when dissolved in a liquid, creates those characteristic bubbles that many find enjoyable. While the ginger component itself has a long history of use as a digestive aid, the introduction of carbonation adds another layer to the discussion.

Temporary Relief of Indigestion: In some individuals, the effervescence from carbonated beverages like ginger beer can provide temporary relief from indigestion. The mechanism behind this relief is thought to be related to the ability of the carbonation to elicit belching, which can ease stomach discomfort associated with bloating and gas (Gupta, R. and Enck, P., 2009).

  • Carbon dioxide's role in gastric motility (Ouyang, H. & Chen, J.D.Z., 2002).
  • The evidence showing carbonated water improving dyspepsia and constipation (Cuomo, R., Grasso, R., Sarnelli, G., et al., 2002).

Potential Negative Effects: On the flip side, excessive consumption of carbonated beverages, ginger beer included, may lead to negative consequences for some individuals. It's essential to be mindful of the following:

  • Increased risk of developing gastric distension, which can exacerbate symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and acid reflux.
  • Carbonation may induce a higher release of stomach acids, potentially worsening gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) symptoms (Brown, S.R., Cann, P.A., Read, N.W., 1991).
  • Altered pressure dynamics within the esophagus, potentially affecting those with esophageal motility disorders.

It's worth noting that the severity and occurrence of these effects can vary widely from person to person. The individual's sensitivity to carbonation, the quantity of ginger beer consumed, and the overall dietary context play significant roles.

An interesting caveat pertains to the gingerol compounds found in natural ginger extracts. Gingerols, which are known for their anti-inflammatory and gastrointestinal motility effects, may counteract some of the adverse effects of carbonation. This highlights the importance of assessing ginger beer's ingredients, as not all ginger beers are crafted with genuine ginger extracts (Giannetti, V., 2017).

For those with chronic digestive conditions, seeking professional medical advice before regularly incorporating carbonated beverages into their diet is prudent. Meanwhile, those curious about ginger beer should consider moderation as a key principle to avoid any potential digestive discomfort that could arise due to carbonation.


  • Gupta, R. & Enck, P. (2009). Gastrointestinal complaints and diagnosis in the general population. Journal of Gastroenterology.
  • Ouyang, H. & Chen, J.D.Z. (2002). Review article: therapeutic roles of acupuncture in functional gastrointestinal disorders. Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics.
  • Cuomo, R., Grasso, R., Sarnelli, G., et al. (2002). Effects of carbonated water on functional dyspepsia and constipation. European Journal of Gastroenterology & Hepatology.
  • Brown, S.R., Cann, P.A., Read, N.W. (1991). Effect of coffee on distal colon function. Gut.
  • Giannetti, V. (2017). Analytical Characterization of Ginger (Zingiber officinale). Phytochemistry Reviews.

Frequently asked questions

Diet ginger beer can offer a lower-calorie and sugar-free alternative to regular ginger beer, making it a better option for those managing calorie intake or blood sugar levels. However, they often contain artificial sweeteners, which some people prefer to avoid due to potential sensitivities or personal dietary philosophies. Always consider individual health conditions and preferences when choosing between diet and regular ginger beer.

Ginger beer can contribute to weight gain if consumed frequently and in large quantities, particularly varieties high in added sugars. A typical 12 oz serving of commercial ginger beer may contain 100-200 calories, mainly from sugars. To avoid weight gain, enjoy ginger beer in moderation and opt for reduced-sugar or sugar-free alternatives.

The health benefits of ginger beer largely depend on the actual ginger content. Real ginger contains beneficial compounds like gingerol, known for anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. However, commercial ginger beers vary in ginger content, with some using minimal amounts or artificial flavors. To reap the health benefits, choose a ginger beer with a high content of real ginger and be cautious of added sugars which can negate the positive effects.

Traditional non-alcoholic ginger beer contains less than 0.5% alcohol by volume due to natural fermentation, which is considered negligible and does not typically lead to intoxication. This amount falls within the legal definition of non-alcoholic in many countries. However, there are also alcoholic versions with higher alcohol content intended for adults, so always check the label if avoiding alcohol.

Ask a question about Ginger Beer and our team will publish the answer as soon as possible.

Possible short-term side effects

  • bloating
  • gas
  • digestive discomfort
  • exacerbated ibs symptoms
  • increased stomach acid
  • acid reflux symptoms
  • gastric distension

Possible long-term side effects

  • weight gain
  • type 2 diabetes
  • cardiovascular disease
  • dental problems
  • potential impact on metabolic health

Ingredients to be aware of


  • anti-inflammatory effects
  • antioxidants
  • gastrointestinal relief
  • blood sugar regulation
  • cholesterol-lowering potential

Healthier alternatives

  • low-sugar ginger beers
  • ginger teas
  • natural sparkling waters
  • homemade ginger brews

Our Wellness Pick (what is this?)

Reed's Zero Sugar Ginger Beer

  • All-natural ingredients
  • Extra ginger kick
  • No sugar added
  • Certified Ketogenic
  • Refreshing taste
Learn More!

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Diane Saleem
Published on: 01-17-2024

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Diane Saleem
Published on: 01-17-2024

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