Whether you steep it to make a calming tea or add it to a stir-fry, the health benefits of ginger are worth exploring. For centuries, it has been used in medical traditions to reduce inflammation, relieve pain, and combat nausea.
The wonders of ginger extend beyond your culinary masterpieces, and you may be surprised to know how it can possibly address some of your health concerns.
So, read on and discover the amazing health benefits of ginger, and the best ways to add more of this spice to your diet!
What is Ginger?
Ginger is a flowering plant whose rhizome, commonly known as ginger root, is used for both culinary and medicinal purposes. It belongs to the Zingiberaceae family along with turmeric, galangal, and cardamom.
Ginger is available in various forms including fresh, dried, ground, capsule, juice, tea, and even essential oil.
Its use has been associated with a multitude of health rewards including nausea relief, lower risk of fungal infections, and lower cholesterol levels.
Ginger: Nutrition Facts
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, ginger root packs a wide array of vitamins and minerals. The USDA Nutrient Data Base reveals that 100-gram raw ginger contains these nutrients:
- 80 calories
- Protein (1.82 grams)
- Fiber (2 grams)
- Potassium (415 milligrams)
- Magnesium (43 milligrams)
- Phosphorus (34 milligrams)
- Calcium (16 milligrams)
- Sodium (13 milligrams)
- Vitamin C (5 milligrams)
Aside from these vital nutrients, ginger also contains small amounts of vitamins B-6 and E, niacin, riboflavin, and thiamin.
What are the Health Benefits of Ginger?
Ginger’s health benefits are largely attributed to the spice’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Take a look at how these properties and ginger’s impressive nutritional profile can help boost your health:
It treats nausea
About 70 to 80 percent of pregnant women experience nausea and vomiting of pregnancy (NVP) or what is commonly known as morning sickness.
Luckily, ginger helps to combat this. In fact, this spice is prized for its ability to combat morning sickness and seasickness.
One study found that pregnant women who consumed ginger reported reduced nausea symptoms. The subjects also did not cite any side effects or adverse effects during their pregnancy.
The study concludes that ginger can be a harmless natural alternative for women suffering from NVP. Another study showed that ginger helped lessen the severity of nausea in adult patients receiving chemotherapy.
It reduces inflammation
Inflammation contributes to a number of diseases such as diabetes, obesity, arthritis, heart disease, autoimmune disorders, and even cancer.
Several studies show that ginger may reduce inflammation, too. One study found that ginger extract significantly reduced pain in patients with osteoarthritis of the knee.
Another research discovered that a combination of ginger, cinnamon, mastic, and sesame oil can decrease pain, morning stiffness, and limited motion in osteoarthritis patients.
A separate study found evidence that ginger exhibits antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, preventing the risk of chronic diseases like cancer.
Ginger’s anti-cancer potential is attributed to its powerful compounds such as gingerols, shogaol, and paradols.
It relieves menstrual pain
Most women understand what it’s like to go through period cramps. If you’re looking to ease your menstrual pain, you can seek the help of ginger.
One study concluded that ginger works just as effective as ibuprofen and mefenamic acid in reducing pain associated with dysmenorrhea.
It prevents fungal infections
Ginger also helps to combat disease-causing fungi, thanks to its anti-fungal properties. Some of the more common types of fungal infections include jock itch, athlete’s foot, and thrush.
Ginger extract was found to be effective in fighting fungal infections in the mouth, which are caused by two types of yeast.
It fights bacterial infections
Apart from its anti-fungal properties, ginger also possesses anti-bacterial powers, preventing urinary tract infections, and respiratory tract infections like bronchitis and sinusitis.
One study found that gingerol-related compounds suppressed the growth of oral bacteria linked to periodontitis.
It reduces cholesterol levels
Ginger not only helps to lower blood sugar levels but cholesterol levels as well.
Research shows that ginger can also reduce LDL or bad cholesterol, and triglycerides, which contribute to the development of heart disease. It also raises HDL or good cholesterol.
It prevents gastric ulcers
Stomach ulcers or gastric ulcers are painful sores that form in the lining of the stomach or small intestine. The most common symptom of a stomach ulcer is dyspepsia or indigestion.
Other symptoms include weight loss, vomiting, loss of appetite due to pain, and bloating.
Several studies discovered that ginger can help prevent the development of stomach ulcers. One animal study found that ginger powder reduced aspirin-induced gastric ulcer.
Ginger’s protective effect against stomach ulcers is attributed to its gingerol and shogaol content.
It promotes healthy digestion
This amazing spice is also touted for its ability to promote healthy digestion and prevent digestive problems like dyspepsia.
In one study, it was found that ginger accelerated gastric emptying in patients suffering from functional dyspepsia, a chronic disorder affecting the gastrointestinal tract.
A separate study discovered that ginger capsules stimulated stomach emptying and antral contractions in healthy volunteers.
It lowers blood sugar
Elevated blood sugar levels may lead to serious health problems. If it’s not addressed immediately, it can lead to health complications such as heart disease, kidney damage, nerve damage, and stroke.
Ginger is also touted for its ability to normalize blood sugar levels and prevent these serious side effects.
One study found that ginger reduced fasting blood sugar, and enhanced blood sugar control. The research concluded that ginger may have a role in reducing the risk of diabetes complications.
It relieves joint and muscle pain
Did you push your body too hard during your morning sweat session? Ginger might help ease your joint and muscle pain.
One study found that daily consumption of raw, heat-treated ginger resulted in a moderate-to-large decrease in muscle pain caused by exercise-induced muscle injury.
How Can You Add Ginger to Your Diet?
The best way to reap ginger’s health perks is by incorporating it into your regular nutrition. Luckily, there are many ways to add ginger to your diet. Here’s how you can sneak this spice into your beverages and dishes:
Perk up your drink
From juices to smoothies, ginger is ready to boost your favorite chug. Even your plain water can get a powerful spin with this spice!
After washing it thoroughly, you can cut fresh ginger root into very thin slices, and add to water. Let it boil for 10 to 20 minutes, then strain out the ginger slices. You can enhance its flavor by adding honey or lemon juice.
You can also perk up your smoothies and juices by throwing some ginger slices into your drink or spice up your coffee with ground ginger. These homemade ginger drinks can help settle your stomach, alleviate nausea, and relieve pain.
Make a ginger jam
For a change, why not try ginger jam? Spread some on toast or biscuits for a unique, comforting bite.
To make your own ginger jam, simply wash and peel 1 lb. of ginger root. Cut it into thin slices and place it into a pot.
Add sugar and lemon juice, and let it boil for 10 minutes or until the sugar dissolves and ginger slices soften. Cover the pot and let it simmer under low heat. You’ll know your jam is done when its consistency is already thick.
Remove it from heat and allow it to cool to room temperature. Transfer to an airtight container, and serve cold.
Use ginger syrup for your pancakes
You can also add a zesty twist to your breakfast pancakes by using ginger syrup instead of the usual maple syrup.
Simply boil water, sugar, and ginger slices slowly for 30 minutes. Then, strain the mixture through a fine mesh for a smoother texture. You can use this delicious syrup for your pancakes, waffles, baked goods, and drinks.
Add ginger to your salad dressings and stir-fries
Incorporate fresh ginger to your homemade salad dressings to take your salads to a whole new level. Grated ginger also works great in your stir-fries. If you want your dish spicy, add ginger when you’re almost done with your cooking.
What are the Potential Risks of Consuming Ginger?
Taking ginger in appropriate amounts is considered safe. Although it may have mild side effects such as:
- Stomach discomfort
- Mouth irritation
- Skin irritation (when directly applied to the skin)
Ginger may also interact with certain medications such as blood thinners and prescription drugs for diabetes and high blood pressure. It is best to see your doctor if you are taking any of these meds for proper assessment and guidance.
Now that you know how ginger can benefit your health, it’s time to add more of it to your regular nutrition. Luckily, you can savor it in so many ways.
Sneak it into your stir-fries, salad dressings, smoothies or make a ginger jam for a change. Incorporating this wonderful spice into your diet may help boost your health in more ways than one, so go ahead and explore more ginger recipes!