The Power of Ginger
It’s lemony, spicy, sweet and at the same time pungent, and peppery too. It is in use for thousands of centuries to add flavor to dishes and in alternative medicine. You can use it in different forms and is readily available. Do you like gingerbread or ginger cookies? Have you ever had ginger tea? Ginger is used in many ways and is extremely beneficial for the health. Read on to learn about the anti-inflammatory benefits of ginger.
Highlights – what you will learn from this article
- Ginger is a tropical plant belonging to the Zingiberaceae family
- We eat the rhizome or the root of the plant
- Ginger originated in China and later on spread all over the world
- It is an important spice used in Asian cuisine
- Gingerol is the chemical compound responsible for giving ginger its distinct smell and taste.
- Ginger has anti-inflammatory properties that helps in treating osteoarthritis and other diseases.
- The antioxidants present in ginger help it to fight cold, flu, and asthma.
- There is no side effect of using ginger and it is safe for everyone.
Ginger – Origins
Ginger belongs to and is closely related to turmeric and cardamom. It is a tropical flowering plant. We use the rhizome or the underground part of the stem and it is known as ginger root or simply ginger.
The history of this spice is quite interesting. It originated in Southern China and traveled to other parts of Asia like India and slowly, it reached West Africa. Europe was introduced to ginger during the 1st century when ancient Romans started trading with India. Again, during Marco Polo’s visit to Asia, ginger came into the limelight. It was a prized spice during the middle ages and spread throughout the world.
The name ginger is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘srngaveram’ or horn body. Ginger was widely used in China and India for its medicinal values. It was used to treat stomach issues, diarrhea, muscular and joint pains, cold, and flu. The medicinal value of ginger made it a part of Ayurveda and other alternative methods of medicinal treatment. Still today, it is used to treat a sore throat or menstrual cramps.
Use of ginger – how different countries adopt it
As we mentioned earlier, ginger is a common spice in the Asian kitchen. In India, it is commonly used to add flavor and thickness to different dishes. In the sub-continent region, ginger is put in gravies, curries, and lentils. Most dishes of Asia use a paste of onion, ginger, and garlic to make dishes tasty and thick.
Japanese cuisine also uses ginger extensively. Here, ginger is used to make Gari, which is prepared from young ginger. Beni shoga is another popular pickled ginger. In other south-east Asian countries like Malaysia and the Philippines, ginger is used both in curries and desserts.
Why you should have ginger in your diet
Ancient Indians did not include ginger only for its savor. It is packed with vitamins and minerals that are good for us. Let us dig deep and find out its nutritional values.
Fresh ginger contains vitamins C, B3, B6, iron, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, folate, zinc, niacin, and riboflavin. A tablespoon of ginger contains only 4.8 calories, 0.05 gm fat, 0.1 gm of sugar, 1.07 gm of carbohydrate, 0.11 gm of protein, and 0.12 gm of dietary fiber.
You can use ginger in different forms like fresh, dried, powdered, as an oil or juice. You will be amazed to know that this root spice contains more than 400 chemical compounds. The unique smell and taste of ginger are due to the presence of certain chemicals of which gingerol is main. This chemical has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that make it good for our health.
Anti-inflammatory benefits of ginger
Let us now discuss the benefits of ginger. Scientists and researchers have found out that the claims of ancient traditions regarding ginger are true. The chemicals present in ginger ease stomach pain and improve digestion. For many centuries, ginger has been used to treat morning sickness in pregnant women.
A randomized controlled study undertook 291 pregnant women and administered 1.05 gram of ginger daily for 3 weeks. The study confirmed that ginger reduces nausea during pregnancy and is an equivalent treatment to administration of 75 mg of synthetic vitamin B6.
Ginger is further effective in treating nausea and vomiting tendencies due chemotherapy treatments as well.
People who complain of indigestion can take ginger regularly to alleviate the symptoms. Have it after your meals and very soon you will find relief from heartburn and other digestive problems.
The anti-inflammatory properties of ginger are used to treat conditions like osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Ginger extract brings relief from joint pain and inflammation. Even applying the extract on the affected area also soothes the pain. Topical ginger treatments are becoming popular as you can reap the benefits of it without the side effects.
Another use of ginger is in treating diabetes. One study revealed that ginger reduces blood sugar level thereby lowering the risk of type 2 diabetes.
The medicinal benefits of ginger go beyond these. Nowadays, studies are being conducted to use ginger to fight cancer. Yes, researchers have found that gingerol can be effective in fighting ovarian cancer.
One of the most common uses of ginger is in reducing menstrual cramps. It is effective as any pain medication and is safe too.
In India, ginger is used regularly to ward off common cold and flu. Ginger keeps the body warm which helps in treating the cold. If you have any respiratory infection, you can take fresh ginger to reduce the symptoms.
How to use ginger in your daily food
Do you think you should include ginger in your diet? Of course! it is one of the best things you can do for your body. This root will boost your health in many ways. The best thing is you can use it in different forms and it is easy to incorporate in your daily diet.
Ginger has a unique flavor that makes it so popular with people. When added to tea, it gives it a nice twist which is healthy also.
It is better to consume fresh ginger rather than dried or powdered one as you will take in gingerol in larger quantities.
An easy way to consume ginger is to use in marinades for meat or fish dishes. You can add ginger paste while stir-frying veggies. Soups will become tastier when you put ginger in them. This spice goes well with sweet potato and carrot recipes also.
Ginger tea recipe
This is one of the easiest ways to consume ginger and benefit from its medicinal properties.
Boil water with crushed ginger or fresh ginger juice, lemon, and some raw honey to taste. Your ginger tea is ready. This drink is refreshing, good for your stomach and sore throat.
You can also add tea leaves for an extra boost of health.
If you go the supplement route, opt for organic, non-gmo, whole-root extracts. Avoid isolated ginger extracts, such as gingerol, even for topical use.
Risks and final thoughts
It is natural to wonder whether ginger is safe and doesn’t cause any side effects.
We want to assure you that ginger is safe for daily consumption. If you are adding it to your daily dishes, there is less chance of overeating it. When you consume it as capsules it is in concentrated form and can lead to stomach ache, or diarrhea in some cases. Take care when consuming ginger on an empty stomach, especially with pre-existing stomach issues, such as, stomach ulcers, gastritis, etc.
There is no report to show that ginger interacts with any medication. Still, you should talk to your doctor before increasing its intake.