Gin Nutrition Facts and Health Tips

Gin is a distilled beverage made from juniper berries. The origin of gin is a subject of debate with some believing that it was originally developed in the 12th century Italy where it became popular for its medicinal benefits and others linking it to the development of jenever, a traditional Dutch and Belgian liquor, also used medicinally.

Today gin is used in popular alcoholic drinks including a gin and tonic, gin fizz, or gin rickey. While some report that gin can provide health benefits, there is very little high-quality evidence to support those claims.

Gin Nutrition Facts

The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA for one shot (42g or 1.5 ounces) of gin.

  • Calories: 97
  • Fat: 0g
  • Sodium: 0.42mg
  • Carbohydrates: 0g
  • Fiber: 0g
  • Sugars: 0g
  • Protein: 0g
  • Alcohol: 14g

Carbs

A single serving of gin is about 1.5 ounces or one shot (also called a jigger). There are zero carbs in a single serving.

However, some flavored gins may include additional ingredients that can change the nutrition facts. For example, certain brands of strawberry gin have about 1-2 grams of carbohydrate per serving because of the flavorings that are added. Also, many cocktails made with gin include ingredients that contain carbohydrates. For example, tonic water provides 8.5 carbs—all sugar—per 100ml serving.

The glycemic of gin is zero. Glycemic index is a ranking system that measure the impact of carbohydrates on blood sugar. Since gin has no carbs, it is not measured for its GI ranking.

Fats

There is no fat in gin.

Protein

Gin provides no protein.

Alcohol

Since gin does not provide any carbohydrates, protein, or fat, you might wonder where the calories come from. Gin provides 14 grams of alcohol. Each gram of alcohol provides 7 calories. Therefore, all of the calories in gin come from alcohol.

Keep in mind that higher proof gin provides more alcohol and more calories. Sometimes called navy-proof or navy-strength gin, this product is 57% alcohol by volume. One jigger provides 17.8 grams of alcohol and 124 calories.

Vitamin and Minerals

While there are trace minerals in gin (phosphorus, potassium, iron, zine), you will not gain any substantial micronutrients when you consume it.

Health Benefits

There are some purported health benefits of drinking gin. Because juniper berries are used to make gin, some believe that you will gain health benefits associated with juniper when you drink gin.

Juniper berries are known to contain antioxidants. They have also been linked to better digestive health and even the prevention and management of conditions including cancer and rheumatoid arthritis.

Currently there is no evidence that drinking gin will provide these benefits. Alcohol consumption in general may provide certain benefits. But for every benefit there is a potential drawback, depending on dose.

Cardiovascular Health

Some (widely cited) studies have shown that habitual light to moderate alcohol intake (up to 1 drink per day for women and 1 or 2 drinks per day for men) is associated with a decreased risk for total mortality, and conditions including coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, and stroke.

Studies often investigate red wine consumption for heart-healthy benefits but one study found that drinking gin helped reduce inflammatory biomarkers of atherosclerosis as well as red wine.

However, study authors, including the authors of the 2014 Mayo Clinic Proceedings, are also quick to advise that higher levels of alcohol consumption are associated with an increased risk of adverse cardiovascular events.

Stress Reduction

Alcohol is often used as a quick and easy way to reduce stress. This benefit is supported by research evidence. Studies dating back into the 1980s and before have shown that moderate alcohol consumption can help reduce stress. Current studies also show that consumption of a moderate dose of alcohol after a mental stressor may help you rebound faster.

However, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism notes that the relationship between stress and alcohol is tricky. Turning to alcohol to manage stress can take a substantial psychological and physiological toll on the body.

Diabetes Prevention and Management

A 2014 study showed that light to moderate drinking is associated with a lower risk for type 2 diabetes. But those study authors also wrote that the relationship between alcohol and glucose control is complex in people with type 2 diabetes.

Authors of a related study advised that overall nutrition is an important component of the complicated findings related to the effects of alcohol on the regulation of insulin and glucose metabolism. Research findings have been inconclusive about the relative benefits and risks of alcohol consumption in those with this condition.

Bone Health

There has been substantial research on the relationship between alcohol intake and bone health. One study showed that light alcohol intake (2–3 times per week and 1–2 glasses per occasion) in South Korean postmenopausal women was linked to higher bone mineral density. Non-drinkers and heavy drinkers had a slightly higher risk for osteoporosis than light drinkers.

However, in a large-scale research review for the National Institute for Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, research authors conclude that chronic, heavy alcohol consumption in women compromises bone health and increases the risk of osteoporosis. They add that the effects are particularly striking in young people but chronic alcohol use in adulthood can also harm bone health. More recent studies have confirmed these findings.

Adverse Effects

Even though drinking alcohol can provide certain social and relaxation benefits, there are evidence-based drawbacks if you drink too much. These adverse effects should be considered if you choose to include gin in your diet.

The USDA Dietary Guidelines 2015–2020 provides guidance for the consumption of alcohol with a few notes of caution. According to their recommendations, moderate alcohol consumption can be incorporated into the calorie limits of most healthy eating patterns. But they provide guidelines about the amount of alcohol to consume.

According to the USDA, if alcohol is consumed, it should be in moderation—up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men—and only by adults of legal drinking age.

A standard drink is considered to be:

  • 12 ounces of beer
  • 5 ounces of wine
  • 1.5 ounces of distilled liquor

The NIH National Institutes of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism provides the same guidelines for moderate drinking as the USDA. Government health experts do not recommend that you start drinking if you don't currently drink.

Also, because alcoholic beverages are not a component of the USDA Food Patterns, if you do choose to consume alcohol, the calories in your beverage should be accounted for so that recommended calorie limits are not exceeded.

If you drink more than the guidelines suggest, the NIAAA advises that you put yourself at higher risk for harmful consequences or adverse health effects.

Alcohol Use Disorder

Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is one consequence of consuming too much alcohol. Binge drinking (usually 4 drinks for women and 5 drinks for men in about 2 hours) or heavy alcohol use (more than 4 drinks on any day for men or more than 3 drinks for women) puts you at higher risk for AUD.

Signs of AUD may include drinking more than you had intended, being unable to cut back, or continuing to drink despite problems with family or friends. The disorder can be classified as mild, moderate, or severe.

Increased Stress and Loneliness

Isolation and stress may put you at higher risk for AUD. It is also possible that while isolation and stress may increase the compulsion to overdrink, drinking too much during stressful times may lead to increased stress and potentially increased loneliness.

"Although alcohol temporarily dampens the brain and body’s response to stress, feelings of stress and anxiety not only return, but worsen, once the alcohol wears off. Over time, excessive alcohol consumption can cause adaptations in the brain that intensify the stress response. As a result, drinking alcohol to cope can make problems worse and one may end up drinking to fix the problem that alcohol caused."

—George Koob, PhD. NIAAA Director

Personal stress can be a factor that impacts drinking behavior, but mass stress—or stress experienced by a large community can also be problematic.

A series of studies were published in the years following the 9/11 attacks in New York City. Researchers found that increased exposure to news reports about the incident plus a past history of drinking problems predicted heavier drinking in the year after the event. They also determined that the intensity of exposure to 9/11 had long‐lasting effects, with greater exposure to the attack associated with binge drinking even five to six years later.

During the COVID-19 outbreak, researchers responded to those studies noting that boredom, stress, economic distress, are key factors that can precipitate a recurrence of alcohol use disorder.

Researchers also know that long-term, heavy drinking can lead to increased anxiety and a decreased ability to deal with stress due to the release of higher amounts of cortisol and adrenocorticotropic hormone. According to the National Institutes of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, a long-term heavy drinker may experience higher levels of anxiety than others when faced with a stressful situation.

Isolation may also aggravate AUD. In a paper discussing alcohol use and misuse during the COVID-19 outbreak, researchers discuss the way that isolation may play a role in problem drinking patterns.

They suggest that extended isolation might lead to a spike in alcohol misuse, relapse, and potentially the development of alcohol use disorder in at-risk individuals. Researchers also know that those dealing with substance abuse are more likely to experience stronger feelings of loneliness.

Reduced Immune Health

Authors of one study published in Alcohol Research Current Reviews report that there has been an established association between excessive alcohol consumption and adverse immune-related health effects such as risk for pneumonia.

The study authors note that alcohol disrupts immune pathways that can impair the body’s ability to defend against infection, contribute to organ damage associated with alcohol consumption, and impede recovery from tissue injury.

Increased Risk for Heart Disease and Stroke

Excessive alcohol consumption is the third leading cause of premature death in the United States. Heavy alcohol use is one of the most common causes of reversible hypertension, it accounts for a third of all cases of nonischemic dilated cardiomyopathy, it is a frequent cause of atrial fibrillation, and it substantially increases the risk of stroke—both ischemic and hemorrhagic.

Overweight and Obesity

Alcohol consumption is associated with unhealthy weight gain and obesity. But again, the dose matters.

Authors of one study note that light-to-moderate alcohol intake is not associated with fat gain but heavy drinking is consistently related to weight gain. According to study authors, experimental evidence is mixed and suggests that moderate intake of alcohol does not lead to weight gain over the short-term but alcohol intake may be a risk factor for obesity in some individuals.

Contraindications

There are some people who should not consume alcohol at all—even in limited amounts. For example, certain over-the-counter and prescription medications cause drowsiness and should not be taken with alcohol. A label on your prescription bottle should indicate whether or not alcohol consumption is safe. Check with your healthcare provider or pharmacist for personalized advice.

NIAAA also advises that women who are pregnant should not drink alcohol. According to the organization, "prenatal alcohol exposure can result in brain damage and other serious problems in the baby. The effects are known as fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, or FASD, and can result in lifelong physical, cognitive, and behavioral problems."

If you plan to drive or operate machinery, you should avoid alcohol. Also, those with food allergies, celiac disease, or gluten-sensitivity should check the manufacturer to be sure that their beverage of choice is safe to consume.

Allergies

According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, there are reported cases of alcohol allergy. Symptoms may include rash, swelling, or throat constriction. If you experience any related or unusual symptoms after consuming gin, talk to your health care provider for personalized advice.

Also, juniper allergy is a known allergy. If you have a juniper allergy, you should not consume gin.

Varieties

There are flavored varieties of gin, but not as many as you'll find with other varieties of liquor. For example, there are strawberry-flavored gins, and gins made using floral and tea extracts. You'll also find damson gin (flavored with a plum-like fruit), blood-orange, lavender, and lemon-flavored gins.

Storage and Food Safety

Gin is usually served cold, so it is best kept in the refrigerator. You can also keep gin in the freezer.

It's usually best to consume gin within a year after opening.

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