Ginger ale is a popular carbonated soft drink flavored with ginger. It has a sweet, spicy taste that many people enjoy. However, regular ginger ale contains a significant amount of added sugar, which some people want to avoid for health or dietary reasons. So an important question arises: is there a sugar-free version of ginger ale available?
The short answer
Yes, there are sugar-free varieties of ginger ale available. Major soft drink brands like Schweppes, Canada Dry, and Seagram’s all make sugar-free ginger ale options. These are made with artificial sweeteners instead of sugar to reduce the calorie and carbohydrate content while still providing the characteristic ginger flavor.
Examining the sugar content of regular ginger ale
Before looking specifically at what sugar-free ginger ales are on the market, it is helpful to understand just how much sugar is in regular ginger ale. Here is a table comparing the sugar content of some popular regular ginger ale brands:
|Ginger ale brand
|Total sugar (g)
As you can see, a 12 oz serving of regular ginger ale contains 33-40 grams of added sugar. Given that the American Heart Association recommends limiting added sugar to no more than 25 grams per day for women and 36 grams per day for men, just one can of ginger ale nearly exceeds the daily recommendation.
Sugar substitutes used in sugar-free ginger ale
So what sweetens sugar-free ginger ale if not actual sugar? Most brands use artificial sweeteners like the following:
- Acesulfame potassium (Ace-K)
These non-nutritive sweeteners provide a sweet taste without significant calories or carbohydrates. They allow people to enjoy the flavor of ginger ale while reducing sugar intake.
Popular brands of sugar-free ginger ale
Many major ginger ale producers offer sugar-free varieties:
Schweppes makes a line of diet ginger ales sweetened with aspartame and ace-K. They are available in regular, lemon, and lime flavors. The diet ginger ales contain 0 calories and 0g sugar per 12 oz serving.
Canada Dry Diet Ginger Ale is sweetened with aspartame and available in 12 oz cans and 20 oz bottles. It contains 0 calories and 0g of sugar per serving.
Seagram’s crafts diet ginger ales and ginger beers using Splenda (sucralose) as the sweetener. Flavors include regular, lemon, lime, and orange. They contain 0 calories and 0g sugar per 12 oz can.
Vernor’s Diet Ginger Soda is sweetened with aspartame and ace-K. The 12 oz serving has 0 calories and 0g of sugar. It is more widely available in some regional markets like the Midwest.
Ale-8-One, popular in Kentucky, makes a “Lite” version of its ginger ale sweetened with sucralose. It is called Ale-8-One Light and is available in 12 oz cans containing 0 calories and 0g sugar.
Cott is a private label beverage producer that makes diet ginger ales for various retailers and under various brand names. Their diet ginger ales typically contain aspartame and have 0 calories and 0g sugar per serving.
Are there any natural sugar-free ginger ales?
Most mainstream sugar-free ginger ales rely on artificial sweeteners. However, some smaller brands have developed naturally sweetened versions as well using sugar substitutes like stevia or erythritol.
For example, Bruce Cost Ginger Ale uses stevia, and Spindrift makes a Sparkling Water with Ginger and Lemon Juice that is sweetened with erythritol. Canada Dry and Schweppes also introduced limited edition natural diet ginger ales sweetened with stevia, though these can be hard to find.
The differences in taste
Since artificial sweeteners have a different taste profile than plain sugar, many people feel diet ginger ales have a slightly different flavor than regular.They may taste sweeter or leave an aftertaste depending on the specific sweeteners used. The natural sugar-free varieties try to provide a more familiar ginger ale taste using stevia or erythritol.
Benefits of choosing sugar-free ginger ale
Here are some of the potential benefits of opting for a sugar-free ginger ale:
- Fewer calories – Sugar-free ginger ales contain 0-5 calories per serving vs. 100-150 in regular.
- Less sugar – No added sugars means less impact on blood sugar levels.
- Fewer carbohydrates – Diet ginger ales have 0-1 grams of carbs per serving compared to 30-40g in regular.
- Less potential for weight gain – With far fewer calories, sugar-free ginger ales may help prevent weight gain.
- Prevents “sugar crash” – The lack of sugar highs and lows provides more even energy levels.
- Better dental health – Less sugar intake lowers the risk of cavities.
For people monitoring sugar and carbohydrate intake or calories, the differences can really add up when choosing diet over regular ginger ale.
Possible downsides to consider
There are also a few potential downsides to keep in mind with sugar-free ginger ale:
- Artificial sweetener aftertaste – Some consumers dislike the taste of artificial sweeteners like aspartame and saccharin.
- Gastrointestinal issues – Sugar alcohols like erythritol may cause bloating or other digestive troubles in some people.
- Safety concerns – While government approved, some artificial sweeteners like aspartame remain controversial.
- Higher cost – Diet ginger ales sometimes cost more than regular varieties.
Individuals have to weigh these factors for themselves when deciding between regular and sugar-free ginger ale. Consulting a doctor is wise, especially for children and pregnant women before consuming artificially sweetened beverages regularly.
Sugar-free ginger ale during pregnancy
When it comes to diet ginger ale during pregnancy, opinions vary. Some experts recommend avoiding all artificially sweetened beverages during pregnancy until more research can definitively prove their safety. Other say that small amounts of diet drinks including ginger ale are likely fine for expecting mothers.
The National Health Service in the UK states that artificially sweetened drinks are safe for pregnant women in moderation, though they suggest limiting intake to no more than one or two servings daily. Given the lack of clear consensus, pregnant women should discuss diet soda intake with their doctor.
Parents also have to decide if they are comfortable giving their children sugar-free ginger ale with artificial sweeteners. While government approved, some health professionals say children and adolescents should avoid artificial sweeteners because their long-term impacts are unknown. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends natural sweeteners like fruit juice or sugar for children instead.
Other experts argue that consuming artificial sweeteners in moderation is safe for kids and a better choice than sugary drinks. For children who regularly consume ginger ale, the sugar-free varieties let them enjoy the flavor with fewer of the risks linked to sugary beverages like obesity and tooth decay.
Making your own sugar-free ginger ale
It is also possible to make homemade sugar-free ginger ale using ginger beer or ale recipes and substituting a natural sweetener for sugar. Options include:
- Monk fruit extract
Adding fresh ginger and fruits provide natural flavor. Then carbonate the beverage using a SodaStream or carbonation drops. This allows complete control over the sweetener and ingredients used.
In conclusion, there are definitely sugar-free varieties of ginger ale available as an alternative to regular ginger ale. Major brands like Schweppes, Canada Dry, and Seagram’s manufacture diet ginger ales sweetened with artificial sweeteners that contain 0 grams of sugar and minimal calories. There are also some smaller brands using natural sweeteners like stevia and erythritol to reduce sugar and calories while providing ginger flavor. Choosing sugar-free ginger ale offers benefits for health, weight management, dental care, and blood sugar control. But some people dislike the taste of artificial sweeteners. There are also uncertainties about their safety for pregnant women and children. Fortunately consumers have options to purchase artificially sweetened or naturally sweetened diet ginger ales both in stores and online according to personal preferences. Making your own sugar-free ginger ale at home is another alternative. So for those looking to reduce their sugar intake while still enjoying the refreshing taste of ginger ale, sugar-free versions are widely available.