Is Ginger Ale Actually Made Of Ginger, Or Is It Just In The Name?

Chances are good that, at some point, you've heard you should reach for ginger ale to help calm an upset stomach. Ginger itself has indeed been shown to settle stomachs under certain conditions, per Healthline. However, you might find that, despite its name, your brand of ginger ale does not actually contain real ginger — or at least, not enough to make a significant impact.

In fact, in 2018, a woman sued Canada Dry, alleging its ginger ale contained no actual ginger. That lawsuit was settled, as documented by the National Post, and the ginger-ale giant paid out purchasers of the soda to smooth things over. Perhaps more importantly, though, the company also removed the claim "Made from Real Ginger" from its packaging.

Ginger beer, ginger ale's predecessor and sometimes slightly alcoholic counterpart, typically does contain ginger, since the process to make it involves fermenting other ingredients alongside it. On the other hand, ginger ale is merely carbonated water that is infused with ginger flavor.

If there's no ginger, what's in ginger ale?

In order to infuse soda with ginger flavor, ginger ale brands may swap out ginger and use ginger extract or flavoring in its place. Some, like Canada Dry, list the extract on their ingredient label. Others, like Schweppes and Vernors, do not include anything explicitly related to ginger on the ingredient label, instead listing "natural flavors."

Ginger extract may provide some of the same benefits as ginger itself, as noted by the National Cancer Institute (anticancer properties happen to be one potential benefit of ginger extract). However, evidence from lawsuits, like the one brought against Canada Dry, have revealed that the amount of extract found in ginger ale is often minuscule. Therefore, it is unlikely to have a significant impact on the health of the consumer, as lawyers have argued.

If you're looking for ginger ale brands that do have ginger, try turning to craft versions rather than large-scale, mass-produced sodas, and check the label. Some reliable options that clearly list ginger among their ingredients include Reed's, Brooklyn Crafted Classic Ginger Ale, Bruce Cost Ginger Ale, and Cape Cod Ginger Ale.

Why drink ginger ale with real ginger?

In addition to its nausea-reducing properties, ginger may be a remedy for other health issues, too, according to Healthline. Consumption of ginger has been linked to the reduction of inflammation and has been used in the treatment of migraines. Additionally, ginger contains healthy antioxidants that could help the body fight disease.

If you're looking to enjoy the benefits of this slightly spicy soda, you can sip it on its own, of course. (Knowing real ginger is included in your brand may make the sensation even more enjoyable.) Or, on a hot day, toss a scoop of vanilla ice cream into some Vernors ginger ale to make what's called a Boston Cooler.

Ginger ale in general is also a popular mixer. You can use the carbonated beverage for cocktails like a ginger highball or Pimm's cup, or swap your ginger beer out for ginger ale in a Moscow mule or dark 'n stormy. Use a brand with real ginger in it and you may feel a little healthier while you're sipping. Cheers to that!