Ginger can be found in spice cabinets and pantries all over the world, however, its commonality doesn’t make it any less extraordinary. Not only is it delicious, but it has health benefits that may help treat chronic issues!
What is ginger?
Ginger is a tropical plant from Southwest Asia. The plant can grow up to 3 feet tall and produces gorgeous blossoms, but the root is the part we traditionally use. The inside of the root can be yellow, red, or white and can be consumed fresh, dried, as tablets, capsules, or liquid extracts.
Ginger contains more than 400 chemical compounds, but researchers believe that the root’s gingerol content is primarily responsible for its health benefits. Not only do they give the root its smell and flavor, but gingerol compounds have amazing properties that help the body in a variety of ways.
- Alleviates an upset stomach. The chemical compounds in ginger are believed to ease stomach pain and help digestion. Studies have shown that it is a safe and effective way to reduce nausea, particularly during pregnancy, after surgery, and during chemotherapy. The root can also help reduce indigestion symptoms by allowing the stomach to empty faster. A small study found that taking 1.2 g of ginger before a meal can help speed up the digestion process.
- Reduces inflammation. Because ginger is a powerful anti-inflammatory, it can be taken as a supplement for rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis (two painful conditions that can cause joint damage) and significantly reduce joint pain.
- Lowers blood sugar. Incorporating ginger into your diet can help in improving blood sugar levels and lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. A study found that people with type 2 diabetes who took 1600 milligrams of ginger powder for 12 weeks had improved insulin sensitivity, lower triglycerides, and lower total cholesterol when compared to a control group.
- Reduces cancer risk. Research has found that gingerol has cancer-fighting abilities. Specifically, it helps with the prevention and treatment of gastrointestinal cancers. The high antioxidant content in ginger is responsible for fighting off cancer cell growth. Additionally, the antioxidants in the root can even help in slowing down the aging process.
- Relieves menstrual cramps. In terms of soothing period pain, ginger is comparable to Advil. A study found that women that took 250 mg ginger capsules four times a day had similar pain relief as those who took 400 mg of ibuprofen capsules four times a day.
Including Ginger in Your Diet
There is no shortage of ways to implement ginger into your diet. It works in your tea, entrees, condiments, and even cookies! When purchasing it for your personal use, it is healthier to use the fresh root instead of the powder, but both will be beneficial. If you buy fresh, you want the root to be smooth and firm with no shriveling or mold. If you use the powdered version, be aware that the taste and smell will be different from fresh ginger and it will be concentrated, so you will likely need to use less. A fourth of a teaspoon of powdered ginger is equal to one teaspoon of fresh ginger.
For some extra ideas, you can use ginger in:
- Marinades for meat and fish
- Stir fry
- Salad dressing
- Sweet potato and carrot dishes
- Baked desserts
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