Ginger has many well established and amazing health benefits. It has been used since ages for its medicinal values and as a home remedy for minor ailments. Many times, it is used at home for treating various common ailments like nausea, indigestion, coughs and colds.
Ginger is the knotted underground stem (rhizome) of the plant zingiber officinale. It belongs to the same family of plants as turmeric, cardamom and galangal (Thai ginger). Fully mature ginger rhizomes are almost dry and fibrous.
Ginger is primarily grown in Asia and tropical regions around the world. The constituents of ginger have demonstrated anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor and antioxidant effects in several scientific studies.
People from ancient times have traditionally used ginger as a medicinal agent. It has been a part of treatment in many traditional and holistic systems of medicine like Ayurveda and Unani in India as well as other medicinal systems in countries like China and Japan.
How to use ginger
Ginger can be used in fresh raw form or dried and used in powder form. It can also be used in the form of ginger juice or oil.
Fresh ginger is generally peeled before use. It has a unique strong and sharp aroma and adds a distinct spicy flavor to food and drinks.
Ginger is a common and popular ingredient in cooking, especially in Indian and Asian cuisine and is commonly used as a unique fragrant spice or flavoring agent in cooking.
The following are the most common uses of ginger :
- Fresh raw ginger is an important ingredient in a variety of Asian dishes like curry based vegetables, lentils, soups, noodles, rice and stews.
- Pickled ginger is many times offered with sushi as a palate cleanser.
- Ginger is also used to make ginger lemon tea or added to tea to impart a sharp and refreshing flavor.
- This unique flavor also lends it to be used in a variety of smoothies, lemonades, cocktails and juices.
- It is also added to various cookies and even certain confectionery items like bread and biscuits.
- Being fragrant, it also finds use as a herbal ingredient in some varieties of soaps, shampoos, oils used for massaging, perfumes etc.
Nutritional information: Ginger Root (100 g)
Since ginger is generally added to food in such small quantities, it is not provide significant amount of calories or other nutrients. Take a look at the nutritional profile for 100g of fresh ginger root as per United States Department of Agriculture Nutrient Database. For reference, 1 tablespoon of chopped fresh ginger root weighs about 6g.
|Total lipid (fat)||0.75 g|
|Carbohydrate, by difference||17.77 g|
|Fiber, total dietary||2 g|
|Sugars, total||1.7 g|
|Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid||5 mg|
|Vitamin B-6||0.16 mg|
|Fatty acids, total saturated||0.203 g|
|Fatty acids, total monounsaturated||0.154 g|
|Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated||0.154 g|
|Fatty acids, total trans||0 g|
Major health benefits of ginger
1. Ginger is an anti-inflammatory
Ginger has long been known for its anti inflammatory properties. It is believed to boost the immune system and heal the body from within and thus is anti-inflammatory in nature. This belief has been tested by some scientific clinical studies, which report that ginger reduces the inflammation marker CRP (c-reactive protein) in the blood.
C-reactive protein (CRP), Erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), and plasma viscosity (PV) blood tests are commonly used to detect increase in protein in the blood and are used as markers of inflammation. Ginger blocks the inflammation and pain causing COX enzymes akin to the commonly used medicines aspirin and ibuprofen.
2. Ginger helps relieve colds, cough and sore throat
Ginger is considered a natural cure for coughs and colds. It is often used as a sore-throat remedy and ginger tea made from boiled water with ginger and lemon or normal milk tea flavored with fresh grated ginger is quite popular. You can make your own ginger tea by steeping grated ginger in boiled water and adding lemon or milk as per your taste.
Ginger juice and ginger chews are other home remedies, often given to alleviate cough and colds. Many times ginger juice and honey are taken together to sooth a sore throat and prevent the urge to cough frequently.
3. Ginger aids in upset stomach and digestion
Ginger has long been used to cleanse the digestive system and alleviate digestive problems. It is said to aid saliva flow and thus helps in digestion. Ginger is many times a part of appetizers as it is believed to stimulate appetite and has many compounds that improve the absorption of nutrients and minerals from the food. Various studies support that ginger exerts positive influence on the pancreatic digestive enzymes which could be a factor contributing to it being well recognized as a digestive.
Ginger aids the movement of food through the gastrointestinal tract. This reduces wind, bloating and acidity. It also activates the taste buds resulting in increased secretion of digestive juices.
4. Ginger is good for diabetics
Ginger has been shown to help reduce blood sugar levels and help regulate insulin response in people with diabetes. Some research studies have indicated that ‘gingerols’ which are active components of ginger can increase uptake of glucose into muscle cells without using insulin, and thus offers benefits in the management of high blood sugar levels.
5. Ginger promotes weight-loss
Ginger can promote weight loss by its positive impact on metabolism. Ginger tea is a good way to feel fuller and is a natural appetite suppressant. Having a drink of warm water mixed with ginger and lemon is considered to be helpful for weight loss.
6. Ginger helps relieve nausea
Ginger helps in curing nausea and vomiting, more so connected with morning sickness in pregnancy. It has long been used as a preventive measure to combat motion sickness and seasickness. It can relieve the symptoms of nausea and vomiting in patients who are undergoing chemotherapy or have undergone surgeries. There is a good amount of evidence for the beneficial effects of dry powdered rhizome on a number of conditions related to nausea and vomiting.
7. Ginger helps reduce arthritis associated pain & stiffness
To assess effects of a ginger extract on knee pain in patients with osteoarthritis (OA), 261 patients with OA of the knee and moderate to severe pain were enrolled in a 6 week study. The study concluded that ginger extract had a statistically significant effect on moderately reducing the symptoms of osteoarthritis of the knee.
8. Remedy for skin disorders and psoriasis
Ginger is considered to be beneficial in a range of health problems related to chronic inflammation. Ginger may help ease psoriasis symptoms in some people since psoriasis is also an inflammatory skin condition.
9. Ginger can help in preventing several diseases
Ginger is considered a natural antibiotic as it exhibits anti microbial properties with ability to fight many strains of bacteria. Ginger rhizome contains several constituents which have antibacterial and anti-fungal effects. Intake of dietary ginger can lower the chances of developing bacterial infections. Ginger extracts have demonstrated anti-tumor activity.
10. Ginger acts as an anticoagulant and has blood thinning properties
The chemical compound ‘gingerol’ found in ginger has a similar structure to acetyl salicylic acid. Thus ginger like aspirin reduces platelet aggregation and has its anti-thrombotic properties. Ginger thus acts as a natural blood thinner and prevents formation of clots that lead to heart attack or stroke.
How to store fresh ginger?
When purchasing ginger, look for hard and firm pieces of ginger, which have a thick, smooth and unwrinkled skin. Then place them in a ziplock bag and keep in the refrigerator. It is best to store ginger unpeeled, which will last for around 4-5 weeks in the refrigerator. You can also store cut pieces of ginger the same way, but they will stay fresh for a shorter time.
How to substitute fresh ginger root with dry ginger powder?
In most recipes, fresh ginger root can be substituted with dry ginger powder. To replace 1 tablespoon of fresh ginger or ginger paste in a recipe, you can use 1 teaspoon of ginger powder, since the dried form is more potent than fresh ginger.
Are there any side effects of ginger?
Consumption of ginger in moderate quantities is not known to cause any major side effects in most people. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s guidelines notes that ginger is considered safe and nutritious when eaten as part of a healthy diet. Concentrated supplements deliver the root’s chemical compounds in higher doses and run the risk of causing possible side effects, like heartburn, gas, or diarrhea. Medical professionals recommend not consuming more than 3–4 grams of ginger per day. If you have diabetes, heart conditions or are taking medications, it is best to consult your doctor before increasing your intake of ginger.
Is ginger known to interfere with some medications
Taking ginger along with medications that also slow blood clotting like aspirin, warfarin etc. may increase the chances of bruising and bleeding. Further ginger in form of ginger water of higher dose could slightly lower blood sugar and blood pressure and some caution may be needed when a person is already on such medications. This is generalized information only, please consult your healthcare provider in this regard.
Is it safe to consume ginger during pregnancy?
Ginger may help in curing nausea and vomiting during pregnancy, and studies have shown that it is safe to consume ginger during pregnancy. However some studies recommend not exceeding 1,500 mg of ginger per day for pregnant women. Always consult your doctor before taking any ginger supplements during pregnancy.
To sum up
Ginger is not only a great way to enhance the flavor of your food, but also has numerous health benefits. It helps in relieving a sore throat as well as nausea and has anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant and anti-tumor effects.
This is an easy ingredient to incorporate into your food, since it can be added to most dishes as a flavoring agent and can also be consumed in the form of refreshing teas or drinks. Do let us know in the comments below how you use ginger in your daily life.
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