Ginger is a popular tangy spice used in everything from curries to cocktails. But aside from sprucing up your Sunday dinner, did you know that it has a wide range of health benefits as well?
In fact, the health benefits of ginger are almost too many to count with preventing chronic disease, boosting immunity, and calming tummy troubles just a few on the long list. It’s no wonder people have been utilizing the popular herb for over a century!
Let’s explore some of the most surprising health benefits of ginger and see which ones have the research to back up their claims.
What Is Ginger
Ginger is the root of the ginger plant. When it is raw, it has a knobby, tan appearance, but you may know it better as the ground-up spice or the pickled condiment at a sushi restaurant. The ginger root is part of the same family as turmeric, another spice that has been used for centuries due to its many benefits.
There are many benefits of ginger root, and many ways to consume it, including teas, chews, juices, and spices.
Is ginger a vegetable?
Ginger is technically a vegetable because it is the root of the ginger plant. However, it is widely considered a spice because small quantities of it add tons of flavor.
Unlike carrots, which are also root vegetables, you might not enjoy eating a large piece of ginger root raw. Additionally, unlike other vegetables, ginger lacks a rich nutrient profile. However, it does contain magnesium and potassium, as well as gingerols, which are phenols that give ginger its flavor and benefits.
What does ginger taste like?
Ginger has a potent, spicy, and slightly sweet flavor. It is a common everyday spice that is often used in Chinese and Indian cuisine. As it is cooked, the flavor becomes more mellow. When it is candied, pickled, or used in beverages, the flavor is cut with sugar and other ingredients.
What Are the Health Benefits of Ginger
There are several well-known health benefits of ginger from promoting digestion to easing stomach pain, and boosting immunity. However, its uses go well beyond this. It may also help lower high blood pressure, reduce oxidative stress and inflammation as well as even improve blood sugar for type 2 diabetics.
Let’s explore some of the surprising health benefits of ginger and what the research has to say about each of these claims.
1. Reduces Inflammation
Multiple studies have shown that ginger has anti-inflammatory properties. However, this has mostly been studied in the context of how it relates to osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
According to a meta-analysis, ginger improved osteoarthritis conditions by reducing pain and levels of pro-inflammatory proteins called cytokines. Another study demonstrated that taking a powdered ginger supplement for 3 months to 2 years offered patients with rheumatoid arthritis relief from pain and swelling. If you find yourself struggling with inflammation, try adding a pinch of ginger to your meals to see if it helps you out over time!
2. Lowers Blood Pressure
Some research suggests that ginger could help lower blood pressure in certain populations. In a large cross-sectional study, daily ginger consumption was associated with a decreased risk of hypertension in adults ages eighteen and older. Furthermore, a review of several clinical studies found blood pressure significantly decreased in patients 50 years of age and younger with ginger supplementation of at least 3 grams per day for 8 weeks or less.
High blood pressure causes damage to blood vessels over time, which can lead to numerous health problems. Talk to your doctor to see if adding ginger to your diet could be an effective supplement to help lower your blood pressure. Additionally, be sure to check out our simple tips to lower high blood pressure.
3. Improves Blood Sugar & Body Weight
There is some interesting research surrounding the benefits of ginger for diabetics with just 2 grams per day shown to improve insulin response and lower fasting blood sugar. Another follow-up study supported these findings and showed that individuals who took similar dosages also experienced significantly lower fasting blood glucose levels and hemoglobin A1C.
Furthermore, ginger may help with weight loss as well. According to a meta-analysis of 473 overweight and obese subjects, supplementation with ginger significantly decreased body weight.
Both healthy body weight and healthy fasting blood sugar are keys to metabolic health — a group of risk factors for a number of chronic diseases. So, by helping reduce body weight and blood sugar, adding ginger to one’s diet could decrease the risk of a number of other health conditions.
4. Reduces Chemotherapy Side Effects
Nausea and vomiting are common side effects of chemotherapy. Numerous studies have been conducted on the effectiveness of ginger for reducing chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting (CINV) in cancer patients. A meta-analysis of some of these studies discovered that ginger does help reduce acute CINV. Thus, ginger supplementation could be beneficial for patients that are undergoing chemotherapy. However, be sure to talk with your doctor before starting any new supplement during your medication regimen.
Does ginger help with nausea?
Ginger does help with nausea that arises for a number of reasons, from chemotherapy to morning sickness and sea sickness. In fact, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends ginger for expectant mothers dealing with nausea and vomiting to help settle the stomach.
Why does ginger help with nausea? It is believed that ginger eases the digestive tract by breaking up and expelling intestinal gas. If you are experiencing nausea, talk with your doctor to see if a ginger supplement could help.
Is ginger good for acid reflux?
There is limited evidence that ginger helps acid reflux, or heartburn, despite being used in this way for centuries in Chinese medicine. However, it can help ease the digestive discomfort that often accompanies heartburn. If you’re struggling with heartburn, try these home remedies to see if you can ease the discomfort.
Is ginger good for sore throat?
Ginger has been used for centuries as a sore throat remedy. However, research is unclear on how effective ginger is at relieving a sore throat.
Despite the lack of evidence, ginger may still be good for a sore throat for a couple of reasons. Its anti-inflammatory properties may help relieve swelling and irritation that comes with a sore throat. Relieving these symptoms may help ease the pain associated with a sore throat. Additionally, ginger has antimicrobial properties that may help fight off infections causing a sore throat.
Where To Buy Ginger
Ginger is available at most grocery stores. You can find it raw in the produce section or in a powdered spice form alongside other spices. Ginger tea is also extremely common and available at most grocers. At health food stores, you may be able to find ginger shots and juices as well. However, for pickled ginger, you may need to visit a specialty market.
How To Store Ginger
You can store ground ginger in the form of a spice safely in the pantry for multiple years. However, for raw ginger, there are a few different ways to store it to keep it fresh for as long as possible.
Raw, unpeeled ginger can be stored at room temperature, in the fridge, or in the freezer. Yet, once it has been peeled it becomes more prone to expiration. If you need to store peeled ginger, make sure you pat dry any excess moisture and store it in a container or bag in the fridge or freezer.
Can you freeze ginger?
Yes, you can freeze ginger. In fact, freezing ginger can help it stay fresh for longer. You can also buy pre-frozen and pre-portioned ginger in the freezer aisle at many supermarkets. Many people find this form of ginger particularly useful for cooking.
Is Ginger Good For You
Ginger is good for you and has a substantial number of benefits with relatively few side effects. It can be a delicious and helpful addition to anyone’s diet. However, like anything else, it’s possible to have too much of a good thing.
Eating too much ginger can cause stomach pain, heartburn, and diarrhea. For this reason, it is recommended to consume less than 4 grams of ginger per day or about one tablespoon.
Ginger has many health benefits and good flavor to boot. By sipping ginger tea and adding the spice to your sautés and sauces, you can reap some of these benefits. If you have a serious health condition and think ginger may help, talk to your doctor to determine if ginger supplements are right for you.
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