Ginger (Zingiber officinale Roscoe) is a spice that has been valued for millennia for its culinary zing and healing properties. The latter benefit is largely attributed to components called shogaol and gingerol.
The good news is that it’s possible to combine these two positive features of ginger in delicious, convenient ways. That’s why along with the 10 reasons to eat ginger, I include some helpful hints on how to incorporate this spice into your menu.
Fights free radicals. If you are looking for a potent natural substance to fight disease-causing free radicals, then ginger may be a great choice. The rhizomes (root-like structures) of ginger contain more than 50 different antioxidants. Plants that contain such a wide variety of antioxidants are better able to fight free radicals throughout the body.
Relieves various types of nausea. Whether you or a family member is suffering from motion sickness, morning sickness, or bouts of nausea, ginger is a quick and easy remedy. Ginger also can help with those annoying symptoms that accompany nausea, such as cold sweats, dizziness, and vomiting. Try drinking ginger tea, taking ginger supplements, or eating real crystallized ginger candy for relief.
May fight cancer. Although the research thus far has been with animals or in the lab, active ingredients in ginger, especially gingerol, have been shown to be effective against cancer cells. One June 2015 study, for example, found ginger extract to be effective against pancreatic cancer cells. In addition, ginger has demonstrated effectiveness against colon cancer cells. This zesty spice has also been found to be somewhat effective against prostate cancer.
Aids digestion. Ginger possesses gut soothing properties, which means it can be helpful in preventing flatulence, bloating, and digestive discomfort. Ginger tea, supplements, and crystallized candies can be beneficial for digestive woes.
Reduces inflammation. Gingerol is the compound that can be most helpful in reducing inflammation associated with conditions such as arthritis and diabetes. For example, a new 2015 review noted that ginger has potential in the fight against rheumatoid arthritis. In a group of patients with type 2 diabetes, ginger was found to reduce inflammation, causing the authors to conclude that the spice “may be a good remedy to diminish the risk of some chronic complications of diabetes.”
Calms coughs. Use of ginger tea, candy, or supplements may increase the release of mucus associated with cough.
Benefits diabetes patients. Ginger has demonstrated several important features for people with diabetes. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial showed that an oral ginger powder supplement improved levels of fasting blood sugar, hemoglobin A1c, and other markers of the disease (e.g., apolipoprotein B, apolipoprotein A-1, apolipoprotein B/apolipoprotein A-1, and malondialdehyde).
Promotes heart health. Once again, gingerol is believed to be the component responsible for this health benefit. Gingerol is helpful in regulating blood pressure, reducing the risk of blood clots and atherosclerosis, and strengthening the heart.
Keeps you warm. Remember how I said ginger has zing? That property is useful in promoting circulation and perspiration, which helps keep you warm. When you feel chilled from dropping temperatures, be sure to consume some ginger to warm you up!
Promotes release of toxins. If you want to help eliminate the toxins in your body, then call on ginger. Along with its antioxidant powers, ginger also stimulates healthy sweating, which helps the body get rid of toxins.
How to enjoy ginger
I’ve already mentioned that ginger can be enjoyed as a tea, supplement, or crystallized candy. Because ginger’s active ingredients are so highly concentrated, you don’t need much to reap the benefits. So here are a few ways to incorporate ginger into your lifestyle.
- Buy ginger tea in bags, loose, or use fresh ginger. For the latter approach, steep one or two ½-inch slices of fresh ginger in 8 ounces of hot water for 15 to 20 minutes. You may want to add some fresh lemon or a drop of agave syrup or honey to your ginger tea.
- If you would rather eat fresh ginger, there are several ways you can include it in your meals. As little as a ¼-inch slide of fresh ginger grated or thinly sliced and added to a recipe can be enough to provide relief. For example:
- Sliced ginger is especially delicious when added to fresh vegetables or salads
- Grated ginger can be added to salad dressings
- Sliced or grated ginger is a tasty addition to stir-fry dishes
- Add a teaspoon or two or grated ginger to your favorite smoothie