Showing posts with label health benefits of ginger root. Show all posts
Showing posts with label health benefits of ginger root. Show all posts

Friday, October 18, 2013

Health benefits of Ginger Root

Some might call it an ugly food.  Others call it a superfood.  Call it what you will, many scientists and health experts agree that ginger can do you a world of good, depending on what ails you.  And whether you’re ailing or healthy, you’ll find that ginger has a remarkable and unique flavor that can add a little zest and zing to many a lackluster dish.

Ginger root


Five health reasons to include ginger in your diet


Taste is a good enough reason to flavor your food with ginger, but the health benefits of ginger root may persuade you to make this ugly duckling of the superfood family a staple in your diet.
1.  Ginger boosts immunities
By boosting body heat, which ginger does thanks to two compounds, gingerol and shogaol, you can not only get warmed up from the inside (a handy thing on a cold day) but also get a boost to your immune system.  A little sweating from body heat is a good thing, especially when you have a cold or flu.  Not only does the sweat aid in detoxification but scientific research shows that sweat generates a germ-fighting agent – dermicidin – that combats infections.
2.   Ginger aids in many digestion problems
If your parents gave you a little ginger ale when you had tummy trouble, they were on the right track.  Even in a highly processed form, such as in a ginger soda, relief from stomach pains and nausea have been documented.   Ginger is often used to aid appetite as well, simply by munching a tiny amount before a meal to invigorate digestive juices. Having trouble with flatulence? Ginger can help there as well.

Note: while a lot of ginger will likely do you no harm, a lil’ dab’ll do ya, as they say; ginger’s active substances are concentrated enough that you can steep a half-inch sliver or two of fresh ginger into your tea water to get some anti-nausea benefit.
3. Ginger takes the flame out of inflammation
The anti-inflammatory effects of ginger are remarkable. One study showed that its anti-inflammatory effect is strong enough that it could eventually be used as a substitute for synthetic medications for inflammation. Ginger’s anti-inflammatory effects are the result of the gingerols.  If you struggle with osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis, taking as little as a fingernail-sized sliver daily provides enough gingerol to reduce pain and improve mobility.  In the studies, 75 percent of the arthritis patients experienced relief.  And in another study, published in Osteoarthritis Cartilage, involving those with knee arthritis, patients were given ginger over a six-month period and experienced reduced knee pain and swelling.  Various studies over the years have shown ginger’s pain relief benefits for those with upper respiratory tract infections, muscle soreness, menstrual pain, stomach pain, coughs, and chest and back pain. 
4.  Ginger may aid in cancer treatment and prevention
Two kinds of cancer issues appear to benefit from ginger intake: protection from colorectal cancer and destruction of ovarian cancer cells.  Studies by the University of Minnesota showed a reduction in the growth of colorectal cancerous cells when patients were treated with ginger.  The researchers concluded that the compounds in ginger compounds appear to be an effective chemopreventive with colorectal carcinomas.

University of Michigan research determined that ginger could destroy ovarian cancer cells as effectively as standard chemotherapy drugs.  Ginger’s phytonutrient gingerol, extracted for the study, was able to cause cell death in all the ovarian cancer forms studied in the experiments.  Remarkably, the researchers found that the ginger treatment even had an advantage over conventional chemotherapy agents; the ginger did not cause cancer cells to become resistant to the treatment, as often occurs with standard chemo drugs.  
5.  Ginger makes pregnancy easier
Those with common pregnancy issues such as vomiting and nausea have found safe relief from these symptoms by using ginger.  Using just a single gram of ginger in a University of Maryland study,  research participants experienced relief from morning sickness and a reduction nausea severity and frequency in early pregnancy – and without side effects on the mother or the unborn child.  This cannot be said for common anti-vomiting drugs, which can cause birth defects.

Ginger root in tea


Ginger recipes


Beyond Ginger's potential medicinal properties, Ginger is a wonderful way to spice up your recipes. Some quick-serve examples:
  • If you're a big fan of ginger's flavor, you can chew directly on the raw inner flesh. Just peel and eat.
  • Whether you like to make green smoothies or fruit smoothies, you can add a nice zest to it by including a little raw ginger in the mix. With its potent flavor, a piece of ginger root smaller than half your thumb is plenty.
  • For a slightly spicy lemonade, combine a little bit of freshly-grated ginger, lemon juice, your favorite sweetener, and add water to taste.
  • Used ginger gratings in a standard rice dish to give it a perky flavor and smell.
  • Looking for an easy and exciting dressing? Simply add soy sauce, olive oil, garlic and shavings of ginger together and you're good to go.
  • If you make homemade ice cream or sorbets, a little bit of grated ginger adds an amazing flavor to a fruit or vanilla recipe.
  • Add some life to any sautéed vegetable dish by stirring in a small amount of freshly minced ginger.

Here are a few more ginger recipes that make it even easier to infuse your family's diet with a healthy touch of ginger:


Ginger – a spice for life


Some final thoughts. First, while ginger in just about any form is good for you, fresh ginger is best, particularly if you are trying to get the most health benefit, not just flavor.  Raw ginger has the highest amounts of gingerol.  Second, when buying ginger root, which you can find in most supermarkets, pick ginger that is mold-free, smooth, and firm.  Third, the best way to store fresh ginger to keep it fresh is in the refrigerator. Unpeeled, it should be good for at least a week, and up to three weeks. 
In summary, for both health and flavor, it's best to go gingerly through life.

Ric Moxley 
Contributing Writer