Having a slightly unpleasant and strong aroma and light sweet and peppery flavor, the mighty ginger is a popular culinary ingredient worldwide. It is also one of the basic ingredients used in Asian cuisines. But, the most interesting fact about this culinary spice, vegetable, or root (whatever you call it) is that it is also a medicinal marvel.
Native to Southeast Asia, this plant root is packed with more than 400 nutrients and bioactive compounds that offer loads of benefits to both the body and the brain. No wonder ginger is considered one of the healthiest spices on the planet!
Health Benefits of Ginger
To gain a better idea of what this plant root offers, let’s discuss some of the wonderful science-backed health benefits of ginger:
· Reduces Inflammation and Pain in Joints
Ginger is packed with powerful anti-inflammatory properties and has long been known to be effective for relieving inflammation and pain in joints, even if it is due to arthritis. Ginger supplements are also, sometimes, given to patients suffering from osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis to ease their pain and lessen joint damage. As excessive consumption of ginger or ginger extract may cause some unpleasant effects, such as upset stomach, scientists have been researching and testing the effects of using topical ginger treatments for reducing joint pain in arthritis patients.
· Treats Nausea
Ginger has long been known as a highly effective treatment for different forms of nausea. This includes nausea and vomiting that patients experience post-surgery, during and after chemotherapy sessions, and due to sea sickness. But, the plant root is considered most effective for relieving morning sickness.
Although ginger is safe for consumption, some people believe that consuming large amounts of the plant root during pregnancy can increase the risk of miscarriage. However, there are no scientific studies that support this claim. To be on the safe side, pregnant women are recommended to talk to their doctor before using ginger as a treatment for morning sickness.
· Soothes Sore Muscles
Although ginger won’t provide you with instant relief from muscle pain, it can help reduce muscle soreness over time. Incorporating ginger root into their regular diet is considered to be highly effective for athletes and people who work-out regularly.
· Lowers Blood Sugar Level
Research shows that consuming ginger on a regular basis, as part of one’s diet, can help the body utilize insulin in a better way, which then improves blood sugar levels and reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes.
A study conducted on type 2 diabetic patients found improved insulin sensitivity, reduced triglyceride level and reduced total cholesterol levels from the use of ginger powder for 12 weeks.
· Improves Digestion
Ginger is packed with phenolic compounds, which are great for the digestive tract. They not only help stimulate saliva and bile production, but also regulate the production and release of pancreatic lipase and trypsin (the enzymes that play a key role in the digestion of fats and proteins). That is not all!
The phenolic compounds found in ginger also help relieve gastrointestinal irritation. The plant root is also an effective solution for dyspepsia (chronic indigestion).
· Prevents and Treats Common Cold
Ginger juice and tea have been used to keep the body warm in winters and as a home remedy for cold, flu, and sore throat since ancient times.
Being diaphoretic in nature, ginger promotes sweating, which makes you feel warm within. This factor, when combined with the anti-bacterial properties of ginger, helps the body get rid of infections.
Gingerol and Shogaol, the chemical compounds found in fresh ginger root, are also known to help fight off cold. From lowering fever and reducing body pain to soothing sore throat and relieving cough, these natural active compounds of ginger are great for treating respiratory infections.
· Helps Prevent and Fight Bacterial Infections
Due to its powerful anti-bacterial properties, ginger root not only prevents the growth of different types of bacteria in the body, but also helps fight against them. The chemical compounds naturally found in ginger are even effective against Shigella and E. coli
It is specifically great for oral infections and gum diseases, like periodontitis and gingivitis.
· May Have Anti-Cancerous Properties
Since ginger is packed with anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, a great deal of research has been conducted on its potential for preventing and treating different types of cancers. Clinical studies suggest that ginger compounds can suppress the proliferation of cancer cells in humans by inducing apoptosis or cell-cycle arrest. However, these studies are still in the preliminary stages and a lot more research is needed to validate the hypotheses.
How to Use Ginger Root to Get Maximum Health Benefits
Ginger is widely used in a variety of forms and ways in the culinary world. It can be used fresh, ground, dried, powdered, pickled, crystallized, and even in candied forms. These forms of ginger are used in a huge variety of recipes – from curries and gravies to rice and sushi to desserts and drinks. But, here we are highlighting some of the best ways that ginger root can be used to obtain the maximum health benefits. So, let’s get to it without further ado!
· Fresh Ginger
Fresh ginger root is the most versatile of all forms and can be used in all types of food. However, fresh is also the most potent form of ginger, so be careful and only use a small amount.
· Ground/ Powdered Ginger
Ground ginger can be used the same way as fresh ginger. Powdered ginger is great for baking.
· Ginger Capsules
The easiest way to incorporate ginger into your daily diet is in the form of ginger capsules or supplements. This is particularly great for people who do not like the flavor of this plant root.
· Ginger Essential Oil
Used both internally and topically, ginger oil has amazing soothing and pain-relieving properties.
· Ginger Chews
Ginger chews have a mild flavor and are great for making children eat this wonderful ingredient. However, always check the label to make sure the chews you are using do not contain any unhealthy ingredients, like corn syrup.
Here are a few ideas you can consume ginger:
· Hot Ginger Tea
This is one of the best drinks for the fall and winter seasons to not only keep yourself warm from the inside, but also prevent and/or fight against cold, flu, and sore throat. Try out this hot ginger tea to experience the benefits yourself.
- Water: 1 cup
- Ginger Root: 3 ounces, thinly sliced
- Honey: 1 teaspoon or to taste (optional)
Add both the ingredients to a small pot and bring the water to a boil on medium heat.
Strain into a serving mug, add honey (if using) and enjoy!
· Ginger and Lime Iced Tea
If you are not a fan of hot drinks and are looking for ways to consume it during the hot summer days, or want to give it to the young ones in your family, this ginger iced tea is the best choice. The lime and honey in this recipe perfectly balances the strong flavor of ginger and make a delicious, refreshing, and healthy drink.
- Water: 8 cups
- Fresh Ginger: 6 ounces, peeled and thinly sliced
- Honey: 3 tablespoons
- Limes: 3, juiced and zested
Bring water to a boil in a medium-sized pot. Now add the ginger and lime zest and let it boil for 6 to 8 minutes.
Take off the pot from heat and add honey in it. Cover the pot with a lid and let it steep for an hour.
Add lime juice, give it a stir and strain the tea into a glass containing ice.
· Ginger and Turmeric Milk
This powerful ginger and turmeric milk, also known as the Golden Milk, is not only good for cold but also reduces inflammation in the body, prevents cell-damage, supports brain function, lowers blood sugar levels, boosts the immune system and improves one’s mood.
Here’s how you can make this super-healthy drink:
- Milk (any of your choice): 2 cups
- Fresh Ginger: ½ inch piece, thinly sliced or Dried Ginger: 1 teaspoon
- Turmeric powder or dried turmeric: 1 teaspoon
- Black Pepper: A pinch
Add all the ingredients in a small saucepan. Stir well and bring the milk to simmer on medium-low heat.
Let the milk simmer for one or two minutes while stirring frequently. Take off the heat, cover the pot with a lid and let the mixture sit for about 10 minutes.
Strain milk into a serving mug, add honey and enjoy!
· Ginger Juice
To get relief from health problems, you can also use a teaspoon of ginger juice mixed with honey.
For this, simply grate the ginger root and place it on a paper towel. Grab the edges of the paper towel to make a small bundle or pouch and squeeze it to extract ginger juice. Mix it with a bit of honey and consume!
Ginger is the wonder spice. Take the maximum benefit of this nature’s gift to mankind to stay healthy and fit. Do you have any other ways, tips and tricks to incorporate ginger into your diet? Do share them with us!