Is ginger calorie free?

Ginger is a common ingredient used in cooking and baking that also offers potential health benefits. Many people assume that because ginger is a plant, it must be very low in calories or even calorie-free. But is this assumption correct? Let’s take a closer look at the calories in ginger.

What is Ginger?

Ginger is a flowering plant that originated in southeast Asia. The part that is used for culinary and medicinal purposes is the root or rhizome. Ginger root is tan-yellow in color with a firm texture and pungent, spicy aroma and flavor.

Both fresh and dried ginger root are used as ingredients in food and beverages. Common uses include ginger ale, gingerbread, ginger cookies, ginger tea, stir fries, curries, and many other savory dishes. Ginger is valued for its distinct flavor and also its potential anti-inflammatory, anti-nausea, and digestive benefits.

Calories in Ginger

So what about the calories? Fresh ginger contains some calories, though the amounts are very small. According to the USDA, these are the calories found in typical ginger root portions:

  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger: 2 calories
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger: 6 calories
  • 1 ounce or 28g fresh ginger root: 17 calories
  • 100g or 3.5 ounces fresh ginger root: 80 calories

As you can see, fresh ginger is low in calories by weight and volume. Even a 100g portion, which is a large amount, contains only 80 calories.

Calories in Dried Ginger

What about dried ginger? Since drying removes moisture and concentrates the food, dried ginger contains more calories by weight than fresh ginger. Here are the typical calories for dried ginger portions:

  • 1 teaspoon ground dried ginger: 8 calories
  • 1 tablespoon ground dried ginger: 24 calories
  • 1 ounce or 28g dried ginger: 95 calories

Again, the calorie counts are relatively low for dried ginger. But because the moisture has been removed, dried ginger packs over 5 times more calories than fresh ginger per equal weight.

Ginger Nutrition Facts

In addition to calories, fresh and dried ginger provide other nutrients:

Nutrient Fresh ginger (100g) Dried ginger (100g)
Calories 80 345
Protein 1.82g 8g
Carbs 17.77g 71g
Fiber 2g 16g
Sugar 1.7g 3g
Fat 0.75g 7g
Vitamin C 5mg 11mg
Calcium 16mg 160mg
Iron 0.6mg 19.8mg
Potassium 415mg 1717mg

Ginger is low in fat, protein and sugar. It provides carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. The concentration of nutrients is much higher in dried versus fresh ginger.

Does Cooking Affect Ginger Calories?

What happens when ginger is cooked? Cooking typically does not change the calories or nutrients significantly. For example:

  • 1 teaspoon raw grated ginger: 2 calories
  • 1 teaspoon cooked grated ginger: 2 calories

However, some cooking techniques like frying in oil will increase the calorie content of ginger. But boiled, roasted, baked or sautéed ginger should have minimal effects.

Ginger Juice and Ginger Ale Nutrition

Making homemade ginger juice only requires blending or juicing fresh ginger root. The calories will be minimal, similar to using raw grated ginger. However, commercial ginger juice, ginger ale and other ginger drinks often contain added sugars and other ingredients that increase the calorie count. For example:

  • 8 ounces ginger ale: 90-110 calories
  • 8 ounces ginger beer: 150-180 calories

Check the nutrition labels when buying ginger juices and sodas, and opt for low-sugar varieties to keep calories in check.

Health Benefits of Ginger

In addition to its culinary uses, ginger is known for providing potential health benefits, likely due to its content of plant compounds like gingerol, shogaol and paradol.

Here are some of the top research-backed benefits of ginger:

  • May reduce nausea – Multiple studies have found fresh ginger effective at relieving nausea related to motion sickness, chemotherapy and pregnancy
  • May decrease inflammation – Compounds in ginger exhibit anti-inflammatory effects that may help relieve joint pain and swelling
  • May aid digestion – Ginger encourages the production of saliva, bile and gastric juices to facilitate digestion
  • May lower blood sugar – Compounds in ginger may improve glycemic control in people with diabetes
  • May protect the heart – Ginger may improve cholesterol profiles and blood circulation to support heart health

While more research is needed, ginger shows promise for improving several aspects of health and wellbeing.

Is Ginger Keto?

The ketogenic or “keto” diet is a very low carb, high fat diet that puts the body in a metabolic state called ketosis. For keto diets, around 75% of calories come from fat, 20% from protein and just 5% from carbs.

Ginger can fit into a keto eating plan since it is very low in carbs and calories. Per 1 tablespoon (6g) of fresh grated ginger, there are:

  • Total carbs: 1.2g
  • Fiber: 0.2g
  • Net carbs: 1g

This tiny amount of net carbs makes ginger a great low-carb seasoning option for keto. Dried ginger has a few more carbs, but can still be accommodated in moderation.

Is Ginger Paleo?

The paleo diet mimics the diets of early hunter-gatherers, focusing on meat, fish, eggs, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds. Processed foods, sugar, dairy, legumes and grains are avoided.

Fresh and dried ginger are considered paleo-friendly ingredients. Since ginger comes directly from a plant, it fits with the paleo diet’s emphasis on unprocessed foods.

Ginger can be used to add flavor to paleo dishes and beverages like stir fries, smoothies, marinades and dressings. Most commercial ginger products like ginger ale would not be paleo due to added sugars and preservatives.

Is Ginger Whole 30 Approved?

Whole30 is a 30-day diet that emphasizes whole foods while cutting out sugar, alcohol, grains, legumes, dairy and additives. Fresh ginger can be part of a Whole30 diet since it meets the program’s strict criteria:

  • Comes from a plant
  • Contains no additives or artificial ingredients
  • Is not processed

Whole30 recipes regularly include fresh ginger to provide a flavor boost. However, dried ginger would not be allowed since drying is considered a form of processing.

Ginger Recipes

Here are some healthy recipe ideas that showcase delicious ways to use fresh ginger:


  • Ginger pumpkin smoothie – Blend ginger, pumpkin puree, banana, almond milk, cinnamon
  • Berry ginger oatmeal – Cook oats with ginger, berries, almond milk and cinnamon
  • Ginger tea – Steep grated ginger root in hot water with lemon
  • Ginger yogurt parfait – Layer yogurt, berries, granola and grated ginger

Lunch & Dinner

  • Asian ginger salad dressing – Whisk ginger, rice vinegar, sesame oil and soy sauce
  • Ginger broccoli stir fry – Sauté broccoli, carrots, chicken and ginger
  • Honey ginger glazed salmon – Brush salmon fillet with honey, ginger and soy sauce
  • Ginger chicken soup – Simmer chicken, vegetables and grated ginger

Snacks & Sweets

  • Ginger peach tea – Steep ginger root, peach slices and black tea
  • Ginger matcha smoothie – Blend ginger, matcha powder, banana and almond milk
  • Dark chocolate ginger bark – Melt dark chocolate with dried ginger pieces
  • Ginger molasses cookies – Make chewy ginger cookies sweetened with molasses

Risks and Side Effects

Consuming moderate amounts of ginger as a spice or tea is considered safe for most people. However, there are some risks and side effects to be aware of:

  • May interact with blood thinners – High doses may increase bleeding risk
  • May cause heartburn – Large amounts may aggravate acid reflux
  • May lower blood sugar too much – Use caution if taking diabetes medications
  • May irritate the mouth – High amounts may cause mouth irritation or upset stomach

Pregnant women should also use caution and limit ginger intake to food amounts, as medicinal doses may have unintended effects.

Ginger Supplements

Ginger is available in several supplemental forms:

  • Powdered ginger – Usually made from dried, ground ginger root. Easy to add to foods or drinks.
  • Ginger extract – Concentrated in capsule or tincture form. May provide higher doses than eating ginger.
  • Ginger tea – Typically contains powdered ginger, sometimes with additional herbs.

Look for supplements standardized to contain a specific amount of ginger’s active compounds like gingerols. Dosage depends on the intended use, with most ranging from 250mg to 1,000mg per day.

Supplements provide concentrated doses but lack the synergistic compounds found in fresh ginger. Whole or freshly grated ginger root is best for overall nutrition and health benefits.


Is ginger a carb?

Yes, ginger contains carbohydrates. Per 100 grams, fresh ginger root provides 17.77g of carbs. However, given the tiny serving sizes typically used, ginger contributes minimal carbs to diets.

Is ginger acidic?

Ginger is considered slightly acidic, with a pH around 5.5-6.0. However, it has an alkalizing effect on the body once digested.

Does ginger make you poop?

Ginger may have a mild laxative effect for some people, likely due to its content of fiber and compounds like gingerol. So ginger could stimulate bowel movements when consumed in large amounts.

Is ginger anti-inflammatory?

Yes, compounds found in ginger exhibit anti-inflammatory properties that may help reduce swelling, joint pain, sore muscles and oxidative damage.

Is ginger good for nausea?

Multiple studies have shown ginger effective at relieving different types of nausea, especially nausea associated with motion sickness, pregnancy and chemotherapy.

The Bottom Line

Ginger root provides a spicy flavor as well as potential health benefits. Both fresh and dried ginger are very low in calories by volume, so they can be used liberally as part of a healthy diet. Intake of several grams per day from foods and beverages is considered safe for most people.

While ginger contributes minimal calories, it provides compounds linked to reduced inflammation, improved digestion and blood sugar control, decreased nausea, and protection of the heart and brain.

Ginger makes a flavorful, low-calorie addition to a variety of dishes and beverages. Pair it with berries, lemon, honey, matcha, pumpkin, chocolate and more for creative recipes.

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