Tonic Water Nutrition Facts

Calories in Tonic Water and Its Health Benefits

calories in tonic water
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Is tonic water healthy? It sounds like it should be because it has "water" in the name. But this popular mixer is loaded with 124 calories per bottle. Find out what's in tonic water that makes it less healthy than sparkling water or mineral water.

Tonic Water Nutrition Facts

Tonic Water Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 12 fl. oz. can (355 mL)
Per Serving% Daily Value*
Calories 130 
Calories from Fat 0 
Total Fat 0g0%
Saturated Fat 0g0%
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g 
Monounsaturated Fat 0g 
Cholesterol 0mg0%
Sodium 55mg2%
Potassium 0mg0%
Carbohydrates 33g11%
Dietary Fiber 0g0%
Sugars 32g 
Protein 0g
 
*Based on a 2,000 calorie diet

Tonic water has a bitter taste that comes from quinine. Quinine is a natural substance found in the bark of the Peruvian cinchona tree, high in the Andes mountains. All tonic water brands contain quinine but the amount may vary from brand to brand. Most brands also contain natural or artificial flavors from fruits or herbs to temper the bitterness.

The reason that tonic water is relatively high in calories (compared to calorie-free sparkling water or club soda) is that it contains a sweetener in some form. Some brands contain high fructose corn syrup, while other brands include cane sugar or simply sugar in the ingredients. When you add an alcoholic ingredient, like gin, to make a gin and tonic cocktail, the calorie count can increase to 200 calories or more per serving.

Tonic water can also be a source of sodium, depending on the variety that you buy and the amount that you drink. Seagram's brand tonic water, for example, provides 20 milligrams of sodium per serving; Schweppes brand tonic water provides 55 milligrams of sodium per serving.

So is diet tonic water any better? Not all brands make a diet version of their popular mixer. But you'll eliminate the calories if you can find and use the diet variety. The diet beverages don't contain sugar. But you may consume more sodium. Schweppes Diet Tonic Water, for example, contains 105 milligrams of sodium, almost twice as much as the regular version.

Tonic Water Health Benefits

Quinine, a key ingredient in tonic water, can be used to treat malaria. The substance is FDA-approved in specific doses to treat the disease. But the amount of quinine in tonic water is less than what is generally prescribed for medicinal purposes.

Some consumers have also tried to used quinine for leg cramps. But the FDA has warned that this off-label use is not recommended and may cause harm.

And finally, some drinkers may use tonic water to relieve stress. Tonic water is often combined with gin to make the popular gin and tonic cocktail. While drinking alcohol in moderation may be safe, drinking too much or too often can cause harm.

Tonic Water Alternatives

If you enjoy tonic water plain or as a mixer, you may want to try one of these water alternatives to cut back on calories, sodium and added sugar.

  • Seltzer. Seltzer is plain water that has been carbonated. It is very similar to club soda. It contains no calories and no added sweeteners. Add lemon or other fruit for flavor.
  • Plain water. Plain water doesn't provide any bubbles but many people top off their favorite liquor with water instead of high-calorie mixers.
  • Mineral water. Mineral water tastes very much like seltzer but the carbonation is usually natural.

    Whether you use tonic water or sparkling water, you'll want to keep your bottled water tightly capped and chilled so that the carbonation is maintained and it is always ready for your cold drink.

    Make Your Own Tonic Water

    Did you know that you can make your own tonic water? You can. Try experimenting with different herbs and flavors with Pinch and Swirl Homemade Tonic Water. The tonic water you make at home may or may not be lower in calories than the store-bought brands, but you can at least control the ingredients to create a beverage that caters to your personal tastes. And once you have your homemade version you can use it to make a cocktail or ​blend a non-alcoholic drink with tonic water.

    Sources:

    U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Serious risks associated with using quinine to prevent or treat nocturnal leg cramps, September 2012

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