Bitter lemon is an enjoyable drink that is a slight variation from tonic water.
Tonic water is a carbonated drink that is a mixture of sweeteners, caffeine, and quinine.
And Bitter lemon drink is made when you add lemon juice to this mixture.
Some of the ingredients found in bitter lemon drink include:
- Carbonated water
- Citric acid
- Flavoring (contain quinine hydrochloride)
- Lemon juice
Alternatively, you can buy tonic water from the supermarket, then add lemon juice, and voila..! you have a bitter lemon drink.
It is the best method because you do not have to measure the ingredients.
Many people assume that the lemon is the reason the drink is bitter, but no, quinine is the one that adds the bitterness, and lemon only adds the tartness.
Read on to find out the uses of bitter lemon and how much quinine is in a liter of bitter lemon drink.
We also discuss the difference between bitter lemon and lemon tonic.
Table of Contents
What Is Bitter Lemon Used For?
Bitter lemon was invented in the 19th century in Africa to fight malaria.
It was a refreshingly enjoyable drink that was adopted by many.
That is why in the 20th century the soft drink marketing targeted adults.
Its mixability with alcoholic beverages has made it the most sought-after soft drink by clubs and people who love cocktails.
You can mix it with alcoholic beverages, such as gin, whiskey, liquor, and sloe gin, to make cocktails like gin tonic.
You can also drink it plain.
Several brands have come up with bitter lemon drinks, and these include:
- Polar Beverages
Allegedly it is suitable for people looking to lose weight; bitter lemon might not be an excellent choice for you.
It is high in calories and does not give you many nutritional benefits crucial for your body.
Therefore, pay attention to different brands, as each differs from the other in terms of:
- Protein content
Bitter lemon lacks protein, which is a pretty crucial nutrient in the body as it provides amino acids, which help in muscle development and other body tissues.
The daily protein intake per kg of body weight is 0.8g.
You can avoid the risks of heart disease if you increase your protein intake by 25 percent.
- sodium content
Bitter lemon has a low sodium content as an 8oz bottle contains 30mg of sodium, equivalent to 1% of the recommended daily intake.
- Fat Content
Bitter lemon does not contain any fats.
Eating unsaturated fats is unhealthy.
However, your body needs healthy cholesterol to stay in optimal health.
The recommended daily fat intake should range between 50 and 70 g of healthy cholesterol, of which you should get 16 g or less from saturated fat.
- Carbohydrate content
Bitter lemon is rich in carbohydrates; that’s why it’s not a dietary drink.
An 8oz bottle contains 32g of carbohydrates, of which most of it is sugar.
Sugar promotes tooth decay and increases the risks of heart problems and diabetes.
- Calorie Content
Bitter lemon is high in calories as an 8oz bottle contains 120 calories, equivalent to 6% of recommended daily intake of 2000 calories.
But you can quickly burn the calories through exercise.
Benefits Of Bitter Lemon Drink
- Promotes digestion
After you’ve eaten, you can drink bitter lemon to promote digestion; this is especially good if you have issues with your digestive system.
Bitter lemon encourages the secretion of stomach acid, which makes it easier to digest and absorb food, thus preventing toxin buildup.
- Clear stool
If you tend to suffer from constipation, then make a bitter lemon drink your new friend.
After consuming it, it will help clear your intestines, thus flushing out all the toxins.
Therefore, why it’s best for detoxification.
- Vitamin C supplement
A bitter lemon drink has plenty of vitamin C and vitamin P, which is good for your body as they help supplement the amount of vitamin needed by the human body.
Vitamin C helps treat the common cold or ease its severity.
Allegedly it reduces the risk of heart diseases, stroke, and hypertension when consumed in lower dosages.
It also helps promote the production of skin collagen, which makes you look younger.
The lemon in bitter lemon contains antioxidants that help in rejuvenating your skin, keeping it looking fresh.
- It gets rid of free radicals.
Regularly drinking bitter lemon helps in eliminating free radicals in your body, giving you a healthy body.
It also leaves you in an energetic, mental state.
Bitter lemon helps in rehydrating and can suppress appetite as it gives you a feeling of fullness.
The cons of overindulging in bitter lemon drink
If you drink a lot of bitter lemon on an empty stomach, you increase the chances of suffering from hyperacidity and stomach pain.
It is especially so in young children and the elderly.
- Teeth Decay
Because bitter lemon is very acidic, it is advisable to rinse/brush your mouth after consumption to avoid tooth decay.
It is because it can quickly erode your enamel, which can be a dental nightmare.
Is Bitter Lemon The Same As A Lemon Tonic?
No. Bitter lemon is a slight variation from a lemon tonic.
To get a bitter lemon drink, you need to add lemon juice to the lemon tonic.
Below is a clear distinction between bitter lemon and lemon tonic.
|Bitter Lemon||Lemon Tonic|
|Bitter lemon is a bitter lemon-flavored soft drink made by mixing up tonic water with lemon juice—the taste of bitter lemon results from bitter lemon peels reinforced by the bitter alkaloid quinine.||Lemon Tonic is a carbonated beverage made of sweetener, caffeine, and quinine.|
|Bitter lemon is famous for its tart taste.||Lemon tonic has a sweet taste because of the sweeteners. However, in the beginning, it was known for its bitter flavor.|
|It contains 44mg of quinine per liter of bitter lemon drink||It has 83mg of quinine per liter of lemon tonic|
|Higher in calorie content. You find an 8oz bottle contains 120 calories, equivalent to 6% of the recommended daily calorie intake.||Lower calorie content as 8oz bottle contains 96 calories.|
How Much Quinine Is In Bitter Lemon?
Drinks containing bitter lemon or tonic water contain a certain amount of quinine.
It is because quinine use as a flavoring in many beverages is quite common.
Quinine is a bitter compound that is mainly extracted from the bark of the cinchona tree and was initially used to fight malaria.
That is why you’ll find it in bitter lemon and other tonic drinks.
In small amounts, quinine is safe to consume as it prevents legs from cramping at night.
The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) in the U.S allows tonic water to contain no more than 83 parts per million quinine.
It is because too much quinine can have adverse effects on the body.
Every liter of bitter lemon should contain approximately 44mg of quinine.
You should steer clear of bitter lemon if you take some of these medications as they counter-interact with quinine. These include
- Mefloquine- increases risks of convulsions and ECG (electrocardiogram) abnormalities. However, if you must drink bitter lemon, take 12 hours after your last dose of mefloquine. If you take them concurrently, make sure to be hospitalized to monitor your heart rate and seizure activity.
- Warfarin- increases the risk of bleeding because it prevents the production of clotting factors.
Other side effects of consuming too much quinine include;
- Cinchonism entails a range of symptoms, such as blurred vision, headaches, tinnitus, nausea and vomiting, and temporary hearing loss.
- Gastrointestinal distress, including stomachache, cramps, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting
- Haemolytic uraemic syndrome
You should avoid anything with quinine if;
- You are pregnant or nursing
- Have heart problems
- You have issues with your liver or kidney
- Suffer from low blood sugar
- Taking medication that may interact with quinine
Does Bitter Lemon Have Caffeine?
Since Bitter lemon drink is a slight variation made from tonic water made from sweeteners, caffeine, and quinine, then your bitter lemon will have caffeine as an ingredient.
A bitter lemon drink can be in the form of a soda, tea, or detox drink.
For instance, the Red Bull Organic Bitter Lemon drink does not contain any caffeine.
Therefore, it depends on the brand; if you are opposed to caffeine, check the ingredient before buying.
From our discussion above, it’s clear that bitter lemon adds more benefits to your body; however, use it with caution to avoid overindulging.
Otherwise, you will suffer from the side effects of quinine and hyperacidity.
What are you waiting for? Get the ingredients and make your bitter lemon drink, or buy from reputable brands.
Then share your experience in the comment section.