I was interested in whether tonic water contains any sugar, as I’m looking to monitor my sugar intake.
So, I looked through the nutritional information for each, and here’s what I found.
Interestingly, Coca Cola has significantly more sugar than any other sodas.
And in most cases has double the sugar content of sodas like Pepsi, and Dr Pepper.
In this article I will explain everything there is to know about drinking tonic water, how much sugar it has, and how safe it is to drink.
Table of Contents
Is There Any Sugar in Tonic Water?
There are so many different soda options, not to mention the amount of different fizzy waters.
Therefore, it’s difficult to keep track of what the ingredients are in all of them.
So, here’s whether tonic water has any sugar…
Unless you drink a lot of carbonated water then it can be difficult to tell the difference in taste between tonic water, soda water, seltzer, and sparkling water.
The primary ingredients of all of these soda waters are water, and CO2 gas.
The CO2 gas is added to the water after it is made.
For the CO2 gas to be dissolved in the water the bottle needs to be kept pressurized.
You can also carbonate your own water at home using a SodaStream or a soda syphon.
I recently explained the difference between a SodaStream and soda syphon.
Read it here: sodastream vs soda syphon.
Why tonic water was invented – health benefits
One of the advantages of tonic water is that it can be used as a substitute for soda.
Many people report that they enjoy tonic water and other carbonated waters as much as soda.
However, they say that when they switched to carbonated water their mood and sleep improved.
In my opinion, it’s because they consumed less sugar, as well as artificial flavors and sweeteners.
On the other hand, though, some people really dislike the taste of carbonated waters like tonic water.
Tonic water today still contains quinine.
Quinine is a plant extract that is thought to have health benefits such as alleviating leg cramps and malaria.
Malaria isn’t a concern in most countries, outside of isolated countries such as in Africa.
In countries such as the USA, Canada, the UK, Australia, and New Zealand there is virtually zero chance of getting malaria.
So, then why do some soda companies still add it.
I guess it’s because they want to stay true to the original recipe.
It also adds a more bitter taste to tonic water.
Carbonated waters on their own have a bitter flavor to them that regular water doesn’t have.
This comes from the formation of carbonic acid. Which is a weak acid similar to citric acid found in lemons.
The formula is H2O + CO2 = H2CO3 .
Therefore, if you like to drink carbonated water because it helps your food go down, and quenches your thirst then tonic water or carbonated waters are a good way to go.
Is It Safe To Drink Tonic Water?
Tonic water does contain quinine, and you may be wondering if it’s safe to drink.
And how much of it you can drink.
Based on looking at the advice of various medical professionals, here’s what I found.
The FDA in the USA has a hard limit on how much quinine soda companies can put in tonic water.
However, if you want to drink more than 1 to 2 cups of tonic water a day, then you’re better to drink carbonated water that doesn’t have quinine.
Such as sparkling water, or soda water.
One of the most well-known sparkling waters is San Pellegrino, it’s fizzy water that doesn’t contain any quinine, and is widely available.
The tonic water of popular brands like Schweppes do contain quinine.
The easiest way to tell is by reading the nutritional label.
It was also believed that fizzy drinks are bad for your teeth.
However, it has been reported by dentists that drinking carbonated water such as tonic water is perfectly fine for your teeth and has no effect on them.
Is It OK To Drink Tonic Water Every Day?
Tonic water is refreshing and gives you the satisfaction of drinking a soda.
But, is it ok to drink tonic water every day?
Quinine in this dosage is typically only ever prescribed for the treatment of malaria.
However, when it’s taken in combination with other medication can lead to life-threatening health conditions (source: link).
Therefore, you should not drink more than 1 to 2 cups of tonic water a day.
A good substitute for tonic water, though, is soda water, seltzer, or carbonated fruit juice.
All of these options still contain zero added sugar and for the most part, contain zero quinine and taste identical to tonic water.
Or in my opinion, even better with carbonated fruit juice.
The same rule about tonic water applies to Coca Cola as well.
And you should not consume more than around a cup of Coke or other sodas a day.
They contain high amounts of sugar which are used as a sweetener.
Adds to your daily water intake
As you may know, it’s recommended for an adult to drink around 8 cups of water a day to maintain good health.
Interestingly, it was recently found that drinks like soda water, coffee, and tea also contribute to your daily water consumption.
I’ll provide a link to the findings in the sources.
So, you can replace regular water with soda water such as tonic water provided you don’t drink more than 1-2 cups of tonic water that contain quinine.
Which Tonic Water Has the Most Quinine?
It’s important to not consume too much quinine, and it’s known that many tonic waters contain quinine.
Which one, though, contains the most?
Therefore, it’s safer to make the assumption that any tonic water that contains quinine has the full amount.
There are many soda waters that taste virtually identical to tonic water that contains zero quinine.
If you do prefer the taste of tonic water with quinine then it’s perfectly fine to drink it.
But, just keep track of how much you drink, and you should aim to not drink more than 1 to 2 cups of it per day to maintain long-term health.
Quinine as a medicine
Malaria is extremely uncommon except for a small handful of countries.
However, if a person had malaria they would take around 500 to 1000 mg of quinine per day.
The maximum quinine a soda can contain based on restrictions put in place by the FDA is 83 mg per liter.
So, as you see using some rough math, 2 liters of tonic water contains 25% of a daily dose of quinine for malaria.
Malaria has been a known disease since the start of recorded history.
And was responsible for many deaths.
Somewhere around the 1800’s chemists discovered the positive effects of quinine and it was made into a tonic.
It was also believed that quinine was beneficial for treating leg cramps.
However, doctors at Harvard Medical School concluded that there is no evidence to suggest that quinine has any effect on leg cramps.
It is thought that this was one of the origins of the tradition of adding quinine to tonic water.
According to the WHO, malaria is reported to most commonly affect children, and the countries with the highest incidence of malaria-related death are Nigeria, Congo, Tanzania, Burkina Faso, Mozambique, and Niger.
All of which are countries in Africa.