Ginger is easily one of my favorite flavours to use in the kitchen. It provides a zing to sweet and savory dishes that enhances the flavours. Caribbean, Indian, Asian cuisines all use ginger to flavour their meats, seafoods, and even their vegetable dishes. Western cuisines used ground ginger to add spice to cookies, preserves, breads, and in beverages such as ginger ale and tea. On top of providing a great flavor, this spice provides many health benefits. This spice improves your gastrointestinal health, has antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory properties. Additionally, this spice can improve your heart and brain health.
What is Ginger?
Ginger is a bumpy root from the ginger plant zingiber officiale. It belongs to the same family as turmeric and cardamom. Ginger originated in southeast asia and was traded to the western world. There are many different varieties of ginger root, however the most common has light brown skin and yellow flesh. The following are the six available forms of ginger: Fresh, dried, pickled, preserved, candied, and powdered.
Forms of Ginger
Fresh ginger is available in both the young and the mature forms. The young roots are called green or spring ginger. It has a pale, thin skin and requires no peeling. It is very tender and has a more mild flavour. Comparatively, the mature form of ginger has a tough skin that needs to be peeled away. Additionally It is tougher and has a stronger flavour compared to the young form. You might see a blue ring after slicing fresh ginger. This is not mold or fungus, it means you have a hawaiian variety.
Dried ginger has all its moisture taken from it. To make dried ginger you dehydrate it or cook it on low for several hours. You can also purchase it from grocery stores as whole fingers or in slices.
Pickled ginger is a popular accompaniment to sushi. Also known as Gari or Beni Shoga in japan. It has a bright red or pink colour after it has been pickled in sweet vinegar.
Preserved ginger is available in asian or specialty markets. It is commonly preserved in a salt or sugar mixture and used as a confection or added to desserts. Additionally, it is good with melons.
Candied ginger is another popular form of ginger. To make candied ginger you have to cook the ginger in a sugar syrup until it is tender. after it is tender you coat it in a granulated sugar. It’s sweetness makes it a popular addition to desserts.
Health Benefits of Ginger
Relieve Nausea and Vomiting Symptoms
Ginger has a long history of use in traditional and alternative medicine. It can treat nausea and vomiting in people undergoing certain types of surgeries. Additionally, it can help with chemotherapy-related nausea1. Finally, it is a common treatment for helping relieve the symptoms of morning sickness2.
Ginger has an interesting ability to help us lose weight. It does this by increasing the amount of calories that we burn throughout the day3. The evidence for ginger’s role has been more defined in animal studies. Mice or rats who drank ginger water saw a decrease in their body weight. Even if they were on a high fat diet, they would still lose weight4.
Reduce Blood Sugar
Research has shown that ginger has powerful anti-diabetic properties. A 2015 study showed that individuals who consumed 2g of ginger powder per day say their fasting blood sugar drop by 12%5. An additional study conducted in 2019 showed that ginger helped individuals diagnosed with type 2 diabetes lower their HbA1C levels6.
Improve Heart Health
Research has shown that ginger may help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Regular consumption of ginger helps reduce the Apolipoprotein B/A ratio5. Additionally, It reduces the malondialdehyde (MDA) levels within the body5. MDA is a byproduct of oxidative stress and a major risk factor for heart disease. Similarly to MDA, Apolipoprotein B/A is another risk factor for heart disease. Finally, a study conducted in 2018 showed that individuals who took 5g of ginger powder per day saw their bad cholesterol levels drop by 17.4% over a 3 month period7. This reduction in in bad cholesterol helps combat high blood pressure.
Ginger has been studied as an alternative remedy for several forms of cancer. Gingerol is the component within ginger that has the anti-cancer properties. Gingerol is an antioxidant which helps eliminate the free radicals from our bodies. Free radicals cause cellular damage that can lead to a range of diseases including cancer. There is some limited research showing that ginger can be effective against gastrointestinal cancers and liver cancers8.
Improve Brain Function
Oxidative stress can accelerate the aging process of our brain. This acceleration has been shown to be a key driver of alzheimer’s disease and cognitive decline. A study conducted in 2012 showed that daily doses of ginger helped to improve the reaction time and working memory of the participants9. Thus, ginger can help enhance brain function directly.
Fights Infections and Bacteria
Ginger extract has been used to reduce to growth of many different types of bacteria. Many people use ginger to help recover from a cold or the flu. Ginger has antibacterial properties that help combat infections10. Additionally, it has been shown to eliminate oral bacteria linked to gingivitis11.
Ginger’s anti-inflammatory properties make it a useful tool for reducing joint pain. One study showed that ginger was effective at reducing the inflammation and pain after knee surgery12. Additionally, studies showed that it helps reduce knee pain related to arthritis13.
Ginger is a powerful spice that has a variety of health benefits. It helps eliminate nausea, helps with weight loss, reduces blood sugar, improves heart health, fights cancer, improves brain performance, and reduces joint inflammation. Additionally, it adds great flavour to sweet and savoury dishes. Ginger is a superfood that should be apart of everyone’s diet.
- Soltani E, Jangjoo A, Afzal Aghaei M, Dalili A. Effects of preoperative administration of ginger (Zingiber officinale Roscoe) on postoperative nausea and vomiting after laparoscopic cholecystectomy. Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine. 2018;8(3):387-390. doi:10.1016/j.jtcme.2017.06.008
- Viljoen E, Visser J, Koen N, Musekiwa A. A systematic review and meta-analysis of the effect and safety of ginger in the treatment of pregnancy-associated nausea and vomiting. Nutrition Journal. 2014;13(1). doi:10.1186/1475-2891-13-20
- Venkatakrishnan K, Chiu H-F, Wang C-K. Extensive review of popular functional foods and nutraceuticals against obesity and its related complications with a special focus on randomized clinical trials. Food & Function. 2019;10(5):2313-2329. doi:10.1039/c9fo00293f
- Sayed S, Ahmed M, El-Shehawi A, et al. Ginger Water Reduces Body Weight Gain and Improves Energy Expenditure in Rats. Foods. 2020;9(1):38. doi:10.3390/foods9010038
- Khandouzi N, Shidfar F, Rajab A, Rahideh T, Hosseini P, Mir Taheri M. The effects of ginger on fasting blood sugar, hemoglobin a1c, apolipoprotein B, apolipoprotein a-I and malondialdehyde in type 2 diabetic patients. Iranian journal of pharmaceutical research : IJPR. 2015;14(1):131-140. Accessed January 14, 2021. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4277626/
- Huang F, Deng T, Meng L, Ma X. Dietary ginger as a traditional therapy for blood sugar control in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. Medicine. 2019;98(13):e15054. doi:10.1097/md.0000000000015054
- Murad S, Niaz K, Aslam H. Effects of Ginger on LDL-C, Total Cholesterol and Body Weight. Clinical & Medical Biochemistry. 2018;04(02). doi:10.4172/2471-2663.1000140
- Prasad S, Tyagi AK. Ginger and Its Constituents: Role in Prevention and Treatment of Gastrointestinal Cancer. Gastroenterology Research and Practice. 2015;2015:1-11. doi:10.1155/2015/142979
- Leech J. 11 Proven Health Benefits of Ginger. Healthline. Published October 7, 2020. Accessed January 14, 2021. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/11-proven-benefits-of-ginger#10.-May-improve-brain-function-and-protect-against-Alzheimers-disease
- Karuppiah P, Rajaram S. Antibacterial effect of Allium sativum cloves and Zingiber officinale rhizomes against multiple-drug resistant clinical pathogens. Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine. 2012;2(8):597-601. doi:10.1016/s2221-1691(12)60104-x
- Park M, Bae J, Lee D-S. Antibacterial activity of -gingerol and -gingerol isolated from ginger rhizome against periodontal bacteria. Phytotherapy Research. 2008;22(11):1446-1449. doi:10.1002/ptr.2473
- The effect and safety of highly standardized Ginger (Zingiber officinale) and Echinacea (Echinacea angustifolia) extract supplementation on inflammation and chronic pain in NSAIDs poor responders. A pilot study in subjects with knee arthrosis. Natural Product Research. Published 2017. Accessed January 14, 2021. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/14786419.2016.1236097
- Altman RD;Marcussen KC. Effects of a ginger extract on knee pain in patients with osteoarthritis. Arthritis and rheumatism. 2020;44(11). doi:10.1002/1529-0131(200111)44:11<2531::aid-art433>3.0.co;2-j