Switchel Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

Switchel, annotated

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman  

Switchel, also known as “Haymaker’s Punch,” is a popular drink made of apple cider vinegar, water, ginger juice, and a natural sweetener like honey, maple syrup, brown sugar, or molasses. Other ingredients like lemon juice and turmeric may also be added.

The vinegar-based drink is popular among wellness aficionados for its potential benefits related to energy, digestion, and more. However, more research is needed to support these claims. If you enjoy drinking switchel, here’s what it has to offer.

Switchel Nutrition Facts

Though switchel is made with just a few simple ingredients, the ingredients can vary depending on the recipe or brand. Therefore, the nutrition facts can vary.

The recommended serving size of switchel is 355ml or approximately 12 ounces. The following nutrition information for switchel is provided by the USDA.

  • Calories: 82
  • Fat: 0g
  • Sodium: 18mg
  • Carbohydrates: 19g
  • Fiber: 0g
  • Sugars: 15g
  • Protein: 0g
  • Calcium: 11mg

Carbs

Most of the carbohydrates in switchel come from added sugars. Even nutritious sugar alternatives like honey, maple syrup, molasses, and brown sugar are still sources of sugar. These are simple sugars, so you may feel an energy boost, but it may not be sustained.

Fats

Switchel is a naturally fat-free drink. It’s suitable for those on a low-fat diet or those who are trying to reduce their intake of dietary fat.

Protein

Protein is an essential nutrient, though drinks are not usually a significant source of protein unless protein sources like protein powder, spirulina, or chia seeds are added. Switchel is no exception. It doesn’t contain any protein.

Vitamins and Minerals

The main ingredient in switchel is water, and the other ingredients are added in smaller concentrations. Switch is not a significant source of micronutrients for this reason.

Calories

Switchel is a low-calorie beverage. It contains just over 80 calories per serving.

Summary

Switchel is a sugar-containing beverage that does not provide significant amounts of vitamins, minerals, protein, or fat. It is a source of simple carbohydrates derived from honey, maple syrup, molasses, or brown sugar.

Health Benefits

Switchel can be a nutritious alternative for sugar-laden drinks like soda and fruit punch. Its unprocessed ingredients are associated with many health benefits, and it’s a low-calorie drink that’s simple to make.

There isn’t a lot of research on the health benefits of switchel, but the individual ingredients have been studied for their effects.

May Reduce Inflammation

Chronic inflammation is associated with serious diseases like heart disease, cancer, diabetes, arthritis, and more. The ginger juice in switchel may help reduce inflammation. Ginger has been shown to alleviate pain and inflammation, especially related to arthritis.

May Support Gut Health

Apple cider vinegar, a key ingredient in switchel, is sometimes believed to help support gut health and alleviate digestive symptoms like bloating. These claims haven’t been supported by scientific research, but older studies have shown that apple cider vinegar may increase the rate of gastric emptying.

May Provide Antioxidant Properties

Antioxidants help protect against oxidative stress, which can cause cancer. Some foods with potent antioxidant properties have been linked to anticancer benefits. Ginger, an ingredient in switchel, is one of them. The antioxidant effects of ginger are well documented in scientific studies, and its components gingerols, shogaol, and paradols have anticancer properties.

May Help Boost Energy Levels

Some people opt for switchel in place of coffee or tea. While it doesn’t contain any caffeine, its sugars can provide energy. Switchel is often sweetened with honey, which is made up primarily of carbohydrates. The carbohydrates in honey have been shown to increase energy levels.

May Support Immunity

Apple cider vinegar gives switchel its tart flavor. It also acts as a source of probiotics, which are known for their positive effects on gut health and immunity. Probiotics can boost the immune system to help fight off colds and infections.

It's important to note that not all apple cider vinegar is not a good source of live active cultures. To be considered a probiotic the microbes must be alive. If the food has been baked, pasteurized, or filtered, the cultures may no longer be active. Look for apple cider vinegar that says "live active cultures" to benefit from the probiotics.

Allergies

While allergies to switchel are uncommon, some people do have a sensitivity to vinegar. Since apple cider vinegar is a core ingredient in switchel, it's possible to have an allergic-type reaction to the vinegar. Symptoms may include hives, stomach pain, and digestive discomfort.

Adverse Effects

The apple cider vinegar in switchel is highly acidic, so regular consumption of the drink can have adverse effects. High consumption of acidic foods can lead to tooth enamel erosion over time. Rinse your mouth with water or mouthwash after drinking switchel, but wait at least 30 minutes before brushing your teeth to avoid weakening tooth enamel further.

Excessive amounts of vinegar can also harm the digestive system, starting with the esophagus. Vinegar drinks are considered corrosive agents.

Depending on the sweetener, switchel can also be high in sugar. Too much sugar can increase the risk of cavities and lead to poor blood sugar regulation which can contribute to diseases like diabetes, kidney disease, fatty liver disease, and high blood pressure.

Varieties 

Switchel comes in a variety of flavors. A basic switchel recipe contains water, apple cider vinegar, honey, and ginger juice. Some varieties incorporate other ingredients, such as sparkling water, turmeric, maple syrup, lemon juice, club soda, mint, and cayenne pepper.

When It's Best

Switchel is available in specialty health food stores year-round.

Storage and Food Safety

Switchel should be stored in the refrigerator. If you make your own switchel, it can be stored in the refrigerator for several days. 

How to Prepare

While you can purchase switchel at a grocery store, you can manage all of the ingredients by making it at home. Here's how to prepare homemade switchel:

  1. Add 2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger to a jar. Add 1 cup hot water and let sit for 10 to 15 minutes.
  2. Add the juice of 1 lemon, 2 tablespoons honey or maple syrup, and 2 to 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar.
  3. Cover the jar with a lid and shake until combined.
  4. Leave the jar in a refrigerator overnight, or for at least 8 hours.

Serve the switchel over ice, with added lemon slices, or top with seltzer for a sparkling option.

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8 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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