Ginger ale is a popular carbonated soft drink flavored with ginger. The sweetness in ginger ale usually comes from sugar or high fructose corn syrup. However, some ginger ale brands are made with real cane sugar for a different taste profile.
The Difference Between Ginger Ales Made with Real Sugar vs High Fructose Corn Syrup
The main difference between ginger ales made with real sugar versus those made with high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is the source of the sweetener used. Real sugar ginger ales are sweetened with pure cane sugar, which comes directly from sugar cane plants. The sugar provides a bold, rich sweetness. HFCS is a liquid sweetener made by converting some of the glucose in corn starch to fructose. It is an economical sweetener used in many processed foods and beverages. HFCS provides a thinner, less robust sweetness than real sugar.
Many health-conscious consumers prefer real sugar over HFCS. There is an ongoing debate over whether HFCS is any worse for health than regular sugar. Both are forms of added sugars that should be consumed in moderation. However, the less processed source of real cane sugar is viewed by some as the more natural option.
Popular Ginger Ale Brands Made with Real Sugar
Here are some of the most popular ginger ale brands that are made with real sugar:
- Maine Root
- Thomas Kemper
- Cock ‘n Bull
These brands use cane sugar or evaporated cane juice as the sweetener instead of HFCS. They tout their use of real sugar as a selling point for consumers who wish to avoid HFCS.
Popular Ginger Ale Brands Made with HFCS
Here are some popular mainstream ginger ale brands that are sweetened with HFCS:
- Canada Dry
- Vernor’s (not to be confused with Vernors)
- A-Treat (some flavors)
These widely distributed ginger ale brands use HFCS as the primary sweetener for economic reasons. The HFCS provides a thinner sweetness than sugar. However, some consumers accustomed to these brands enjoy their familiar sweetness.
Factors that Impact Ginger Ale Sweetness
Aside from the type of sweetener used, here are some other factors that impact the sweetness level of ginger ale:
- Carbonation – Higher carbonation increases the drink’s tartness, reducing perceived sweetness.
- Ginger flavoring – More intense ginger bite balances sweetness.
- Sweetener quantity – More sugar or HFCS makes it sweeter.
- Other flavors – Added citrus or spices impact flavor balance.
- Brand style – Some brands aim for an extra sweet flavor profile.
Balancing these factors allows brands to create the desired sweetness and flavor profile for their variety of ginger ale. Even brands using HFCS can adjust these factors to increase or decrease the perceived sweetness.
Comparison of Ginger Ale Sweetness Levels
Here is a general comparison of the sweetness levels of popular ginger ale brands:
|Ginger Ale Brand||Sweetener||Sweetness Level|
|Maine Root||Cane sugar||Medium sweet|
|Canada Dry||HFCS||Medium sweet|
|Vernors||Cane sugar||Medium sweet|
|Blenheim||Cane sugar||Mildly sweet|
|Reed’s||Cane sugar||Mildly sweet|
As you can see, sweetness varies between brands, regardless of using cane sugar or HFCS. The amount of sweetener, carbonation, and ginger bite all contribute to perceived sweetness.
How to Choose a Ginger Ale Based on Your Taste Preferences
Here are some tips for choosing a ginger ale brand that matches your taste preferences:
- If you want bold, rich sweetness, look for brands made with cane sugar.
- If you prefer just a hint of sweetness, go for mildly sweet options like Blenheim or Schweppes.
- If you like sweet sodas, pick a very sweet brand like Saranac or Seagram’s, even if they use HFCS.
- Consider the strength of the ginger bite – brands with more bite will taste less sweet.
- Think about the carbonation level you enjoy.
- Be willing to experiment with new brands to find your favorites.
- Check labels to confirm sweetener for preferred brands.
With so many ginger ale options on the market, you can find one that caters to your particular sweet tooth. Try out a few different brands, and see which sweetness level provides the most pleasing flavor for your tastes.
Health Impact of Ginger Ale Sweeteners
When it comes to health, both regular cane sugar and HFCS should be consumed in moderation as added sugars:
- The American Heart Association recommends limiting added sugars to no more than 25g per day for women and 36g per day for men.
- The World Health Organization suggests limiting added sugars to less than 10% of total daily calorie intake.
- Consuming excess added sugars is linked to obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and other health issues.
Studies on the health effects of HFCS versus regular sugar are mixed. Some find no significant difference, while others show slightly worse impacts from HFCS:
- HFCS may spike blood sugar levels slightly higher than regular sugar.
- Fructose from HFCS may increase LDL cholesterol and triglycerides.
- HFCS may impact hunger signaling hormones, promoting overeating.
However, these effects tend to be quite minor. The biggest health impact comes from overconsuming any added sugars. Moderating ginger ale intake, regardless of sweetener used, is important for limiting added sugar and calorie intake from beverages.
Ginger ale made with real cane sugar offers a robust sweetness, while brands made with HFCS provide a thinner sweetness. However, sweetness preference is subjective, and flavor balancing from carbonation and ginger levels also impact sweetness perception. Reading labels and trying different brands allows you to find your favorite ginger ale sweetness profile. For health, it’s best to moderate ginger ale intake to limit added sugars, regardless of the type of sweetener used.