Proven Health Benefits of Ginger
By Joe Leech, Dietitian |
Ginger is among the healthiest (and most delicious) spices on the planet.
It is loaded with nutrients and bioactive compounds that have powerful benefits for your body and brain.
Here are 11 health benefits of ginger that are supported by scientific research.
- Ginger Contains Gingerol, a Substance With Powerful Medicinal Properties
Ginger is a flowering plant that originated from China.
It belongs to the Zingiberaceae family, and is closely related to turmeric, cardomon and galangal.
The rhizome (underground part of the stem) is the part commonly used as a spice. It is often called ginger root, or simply ginger.
Ginger has a very long history of use in various forms of traditional/alternative medicine. It has been used to help digestion, reduce nausea and help fight the flu and common cold, to name a few.
This is what ground, fresh and sliced ginger looks like:
Ginger can be used fresh, dried, powdered, or as an oil or juice, and is sometimes added to processed foods and cosmetics. It is a very common ingredient in recipes.
The unique fragrance and flavor of ginger come from its natural oils, the most important of which is gingerol.
Gingerol is the main bioactive compound in ginger, responsible for much of its medicinal properties. It has powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects (1).
Bottom Line: Ginger is a popular spice. It is high in gingerol, a substance with powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
- Ginger Can Treat Many Forms of Nausea, Especially Morning Sickness
Ginger appears to be highly effective against nausea (2).
For example, it has a long history of use as a sea sickness remedy, and there is some evidence that it may be as effective as prescription medication (3).
Ginger may also relieve nausea and vomiting after surgery, and in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy (4, 5).
But it may be the most effective when it comes to pregnancy-related nausea, such as morning sickness.
According to a review of 12 studies that included a total of 1,278 pregnant women, 1.1-1.5 grams of ginger can significantly reduce symptoms of nausea (6).
However, ginger had no effect on vomiting episodes in this study.
Although ginger is considered safe, talk to your doctor before taking large amounts if you are pregnant. Some believe that large amounts can raise the risk of miscarriage, but there are currently no studies to support this.
Bottom Line: 1-1.5 grams of ginger can help prevent various types of nausea. This applies to sea sickness, chemotherapy-related nausea, nausea after surgery and morning sickness.
- Ginger May Reduce Muscle Pain and Soreness
Ginger has been shown to be effective against exercise-induced muscle pain.
In one study, consuming 2 grams of ginger per day, for 11 days, significantly reduced muscle pain in people performing elbow exercises (7).
Ginger does not have an immediate impact, but may be effective at reducing the day-to-day progression of muscle pain (8).
These effects are believed to be mediated by the anti-inflammatory properties.
Bottom Line: Ginger appears to be effective at reducing the day-to-day progression of muscle pain, and may reduce exercise-induced muscle soreness.
- The Anti-Inflammatory Effects Can Help With Osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis is a common health problem.
It involves degeneration of the joints in the body, leading to symptoms like joint pain and stiffness.
In a controlled trial of 247 people with osteoarthritis of the knee, those who took ginger extract had less pain and required less pain medication (9).
Another study found that a combination of ginger, mastic, cinnamon and sesame oil, can reduce pain and stiffness in osteoarthritis patients when applied topically (10).
Bottom Line: There are some studies showing ginger to be effective at reducing symptoms of osteoarthritis, which is a very common health problem.
- Ginger May Drastically Lower Blood Sugars and Improve Heart Disease Risk Factors
This area of research is relatively new, but ginger may have powerful anti-diabetic properties.
In a recent 2015 study of 41 participants with type 2 diabetes, 2 grams of ginger powder per day lowered fasting blood sugar by 12% (11).
It also dramatically improved HbA1c (a marker for long-term blood sugar levels), leading to a 10% reduction over a period of 12 weeks.
There was also a 28% reduction in the ApoB/ApoA-I ratio, and a 23% reduction in markers for oxidized lipoproteins. These are both major risk factors for heart disease.
This graph shows what happened:
Photo Source: Suppversity.
However, keep in mind that this was just one small study. The results are incredibly impressive, but they need to be confirmed in larger studies before any recommendations can be made.
Bottom Line: Ginger has been shown to lower blood sugar levels and improve various heart disease risk factors in patients with type 2 diabetes.
- Ginger Can Help Treat Chronic Indigestion
Chronic indigestion (dyspepsia) is characterized by recurrent pain and discomfort in the upper part of the stomach.
It is believed that delayed emptying of the stomach is a major driver of indigestion.
Interestingly, ginger has been shown to speed up emptying of the stomach in people with this condition.
After eating soup, ginger reduced the time it took for the stomach to empty from 16 to 12 minutes (12).
In a study of 24 healthy individuals, 1.2 grams of ginger powder before a meal accelerated emptying of the stomach by 50% (13).
Bottom Line: Ginger appears to speed up emptying of the stomach, which can be beneficial for people with indigestion and related stomach discomfort.
- Ginger Powder May Significantly Reduce Menstrual Pain
Menstrual pain (dysmenorrhea) refers to pain felt during a woman’s menstrual cycle.
One of the traditional uses of ginger is for pain relief, including menstrual pain.
In one study, 150 women were instructed to take 1 gram of ginger powder per day, for the first 3 days of the menstrual period (14).
Ginger managed to reduce pain as effectively as the drugs mefenamic acid and ibuprofen.
Bottom Line: Ginger appears to be very effective against menstrual pain when taken at the beginning of the menstrual period.
- Ginger May Lower Cholesterol Levels
High levels of LDL lipoproteins (the “bad” cholesterol) are linked to an increased risk of heart disease.
The foods you eat can have a strong influence on LDL levels.
In a 45-day study of 85 individuals with high cholesterol, 3 grams of ginger powder caused significant reductions in most cholesterol markers (15).
This is supported by a study in hypothyroid rats, where ginger extract lowered LDL cholesterol to a similar extent as the cholesterol-lowering drug atorvastatin (16).
Both studies also showed reductions in total cholesterol and blood triglycerides.
Bottom Line: There is some evidence, in both animals and humans, that ginger can lead to significant reductions in LDL cholesterol and blood triglyceride levels.
- Ginger Contains a Substance That May Help Prevent Cancer
Cancer is a very serious disease that is characterized by uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells.
Ginger extract has been studied as an alternative treatment for several forms of cancer.
The anti-cancer properties are attributed to 6-gingerol, a substance that is found in large amounts in raw ginger (17, 18).
In a study of 30 individuals, 2 grams of ginger extract per day significantly reduced pro-inflammatory signalling molecules in the colon (19).
However, a follow-up study in individuals at a high risk of colon cancer did not confirm these findings (20).
There is some, albeit limited, evidence that ginger may be effective against pancreatic cancer, breast cancer and ovarian cancer. More research is needed (21, 22, 23).
Bottom Line: Ginger contains a substance called 6-gingerol, which may have protective effects against cancer. However, this needs to be studied a lot more.
- Ginger May Improve Brain Function and Protect Against Alzheimer’s Disease
Oxidative stress and chronic inflammation can accelerate the aging process.
They are believed to be among the key drivers of Alzheimer’s disease and age-related cognitive decline.
Some studies in animals suggest that the antioxidants and bioactive compounds in ginger can inhibit inflammatory responses that occur in the brain (24).
There is also some evidence that ginger can enhance brain function directly. In a study of 60 middle-aged women, ginger extract was shown to improve reaction time and working memory (25).
There are also numerous studies in animals showing that ginger can protect against age-related decline in brain function (26, 27, 28).
Bottom Line: Studies suggest that ginger can protect against age-related damage to the brain. It can also improve brain function in elderly women.
- The Active Ingredient in Ginger Can Help Fight Infections
Gingerol, the bioactive substance in fresh ginger, can help lower the risk of infections.
In fact, ginger extract can inhibit the growth of many different types of bacteria (29, 30).
It is very effective against the oral bacteria linked to inflammatory diseases in the gums, such as gingivitis and periodontitis (31).
Fresh ginger may also be effective against the RSV virus, a common cause of respiratory infections (32).
- Anything Else?
Ginger is one of the very few “superfoods” that are actually worthy of that term.
Ginger’s Many Evidence-Based Health Benefits Revealed
By Dr. Mercola
Ginger is one spice that I recommend keeping on hand in your kitchen at all times. Not only is it a wonderful addition to your cooking (especially paired with garlic) but it also has enough medicinal properties to fill several books.
Fresh ginger root keeps well in your freezer. If you find yourself nauseous or with an upset stomach, mince up a small amount (about the size of your fingernail) and swallow it. You’ll be amazed at the relief it provides. Yet this is only the beginning…
Therapeutic Benefits of Ginger Noted for Thousands of Years
The medicinal uses of ginger have been known for at least 2,000 years in cultures all around the world. Although it originated in Asia, ginger is valued in India, the Middle East, Africa, and the Caribbean, among other regions.
The most commonly used medicinal part of the plant is the rhizome, the root-like stem that grows underground. It’s a rich source of antioxidants including gingerols, shogaols, zingerones, and more. Ginger actually has broad-spectrum antibacterial, antiviral, antioxidant, and anti-parasitic properties, to name just several of its more than 40 pharmacological actions.1
Ginger Has Anti-Inflammatory Properties That May Rival Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)
For instance, ginger (like many natural plant compounds) is anti-inflammatory, which makes it a valuable tool for pain relief. In 2001, research showed that ginger oil helped reduce knee pain in people with osteoarthritis.2
In 2013, a study also found that women athletes taking three grams of ginger or cinnamon daily (that’s less than one teaspoon) had a significant decrease in muscle soreness.3 Ginger has even been found to be as effective as ibuprofen in relieving pain from menstrual cramps in women.4
The pain-relieving potential of ginger appears to be far-reaching. Along with help for muscle and joint pain, ginger has been found to reduce the severity of migraine headaches as well as the migraine medication Sumatriptan – with fewer side effects.5
Another recent study, which was presented at the American Thoracic Society International Conference, found that adding ginger compounds to isoproterenol, a type of asthma medication called a beta-agonist, enhanced its bronchodilating effects. Because ginger enhances bronchodilation, it may provide a much safer alternative, or at least complement, to current asthma medications on the market.
Ginger Shows Promise as a Cancer and Diabetes Fighter
Ginger’s anti-inflammatory properties no doubt make it beneficial for many chronic inflammatory diseases including cancer. Indeed, research published in the British Journal of Nutrition6 has demonstrated the in vitro and in vivo anticancer activity of ginger, suggesting it may be effective in the management of prostate cancer.
Other research shows it has anti-tumor activity that may help defeat difficult-to-treat types of cancer, including lung, ovarian, colon, breast, skin, and pancreatic.7 Furthermore, because ginger helps prevent the toxic effects of many substances (including cancer drugs), it may be useful to take in addition to conventional cancer treatments.8
As for diabetes, ginger appears to be useful both preventively and therapeutically via effects on insulin release and action, and improved carbohydrate and lipid metabolism.
According to one comprehensive review, a clinical trial that was performed found that after consuming three grams of dry ginger powder for 30 days, diabetic participants had a significant reduction in blood glucose, triglyceride, total cholesterol, and LDL cholesterol.9 It’s thought that ginger has a positive effect on diabetes because it:
- Inhibits enzymes in carbohydrate metabolism
- Increases insulin release and sensitivity
- Improves lipid profiles
Ginger also has also been established to have a protective effect against diabetes complications, including offering protection to the diabetic’s liver, kidneys, central nervous system, and eyes.
The Power of Ginger for Nausea, Motion Sickness, and Digestive Upset
No article about ginger would be complete without highlighting its wonderful use for digestive upsets. In my book, it is one of the best natural remedies if you struggle with motion sickness or nausea (from pregnancy or chemotherapy, for example), ginger should be a staple in your diet. Research shows:
- Taking one gram of ginger daily may help reduce nausea and vomiting in pregnant women, and ginger has been shown to work better than a placebo in relieving morning sickness10
- Daily ginger supplementation reduces the severity of chemotherapy-induced nausea11
- Ginger may help reduce vomiting and other symptoms of motion sickness12
Ginger is also a must-have if you struggle with indigestion, and it does more than simply relieve pain. Ginger helps to stimulate the emptying of your stomach without any negative effects,13 and it’s an antispasmodic agent, which may explain its beneficial effects on your intestinal tract. Additionally, ginger inhibits H. pylori, which may help prevent ulcers, while also protecting gastric mucosa.14
From Heart Health to Weight Loss: 12 More Uses for Ginger
What else is ginger good for? Ginger is a metabolism boosting substance that may temporarily increase thermogenesis in your body, where your body burns stored up fat to create heat, with beneficial impacts on overall metabolism and fat storage. Research suggests that consuming thermogenic ingredients like ginger may boost your metabolism by up to 5 percent, and increase fat burning by up to 16 percent.15
Ginger may even help counteract the decrease in metabolic rate that often occurs during weight loss. This suggests ginger may be useful for weight loss, and that’s not all.
According to research compiled by GreenMedInfo,16, 17 ginger may also be useful for:
|Improving cognitive function in middle-aged women18
||Protecting against respiratory viruses19
|Enhancing fat digestion and absorption21
||Protecting against toxic effects of environmental chemicals, such as parabens22
||Helping prevent heart attacks23
|Relieving arthritis pain as well as Indomethacin, an anti-inflammatory drug commonly used to treat it24
||Preventing and treating nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)25
||Drug-resistant bacterial and fungal infections26
|Reducing damage and memory loss associated with small stroke27
||Protecting against the DNA-damaging effects of radiation exposure28
||Fighting bacterial diarrhea29
Ginger Tea, Fresh Ginger, or Extract: What’s the Best Way to Use Ginger?
This depends on what you’re using the ginger for. If you have a serious issue, work with an experienced natural health practitioner who can guide you on proper dosages and forms. For the most potent medicinal properties, ginger extract may be necessary, although there is also therapeutic benefit from fresh or even dried ginger.
Many people enjoy ginger tea on a regular basis, and this is one of the simplest ways to use it. Simply chop off a couple of inches of ginger root and let it steep in hot water for fresh ginger tea. You can also peel the root using a paring knife and then slice it thinly (or grate it or mince it) to add to tea or cooked dishes. You can’t go wrong by adding ginger to stir fries or even your favorite homemade chicken soup.
When left unpeeled, fresh ginger can be stored in your refrigerator for at least three weeks or in your freezer for six months or longer, making it incredibly easy to keep on hand. Try experimenting by adding fresh ginger and other warming spices, like cinnamon, to a cup of tea in the morning, evening, or after a meal… and see if you notice any of the health benefits I’ve just described. You can even try mixing a teaspoon of organic powdered ginger into a gallon of iced tea for added punch and health potential.
Aromatic, pungent and spicy, ginger adds a special flavor and zest to Asian stir fries and many fruit and vegetable dishes. Fresh ginger root is available year round in the produce section of your local market.
Ginger is the underground rhizome of the ginger plant with a firm, striated texture. The flesh of the ginger rhizome can be yellow, white or red in color, depending upon the variety. It is covered with a brownish skin that may either be thick or thin, depending upon whether the plant was harvested when it was mature or young.
Ginger, slices, fresh 1.00 TBS (6.00 grams) Calories: 5 GI: very low
This chart graphically details the %DV that a serving of Ginger provides for each of the nutrients of which it is a good, very good, or excellent source according to our Food Rating System. Additional information about the amount of these nutrients provided by Ginger can be found in the Food Rating System Chart. A link that takes you to the In-Depth Nutritional Profile for Ginger, featuring information over 80 nutrients, can be found under the Food Rating System Chart.
Historically, ginger has a long tradition of being very effective in alleviating symptoms of gastrointestinal distress. In herbal medicine, ginger is regarded as an excellent carminative (a substance which promotes the elimination of intestinal gas) and intestinal spasmolytic (a substance which relaxes and soothes the intestinal tract). Modern scientific research has revealed that ginger possesses numerous therapeutic properties including antioxidant effects, an ability to inhibit the formation of inflammatory compounds, and direct anti-inflammatory effects.
A clue to ginger’s success in eliminating gastrointestinal distress is offered by recent double-blind studies, which have demonstrated that ginger is very effective in preventing the symptoms of motion sickness, especially seasickness. In fact, in one study, ginger was shown to be far superior to Dramamine, a commonly used over-the-counter and prescription drug for motion sickness. Ginger reduces all symptoms associated with motion sickness including dizziness, nausea, vomiting, and cold sweating.
Safe and Effective Relief of Nausea and Vomiting During Pregnancy
Ginger’s anti-vomiting action has been shown to be very useful in reducing the nausea and vomiting of pregnancy, even the most severe form, hyperemesis gravidum, a condition which usually requires hospitalization. In a double-blind trial, ginger root brought about a significant reduction in both the severity of nausea and number of attacks of vomiting in 19 of 27 women in early pregnancy (less than 20 weeks). Unlike antivomiting drugs, which can cause severe birth defects, ginger is extremely safe, and only a small dose is required.
A review of six double-blind, randomized controlled trials with a total of 675 participants, published in the April 2005 issue of the journal, Obstetrics and Gynecology,has confirmed that ginger is effective in relieving the severity of nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. The review also confirmed the absence of significant side effects or adverse effects on pregnancy outcomes.
Ginger contains very potent anti-inflammatory compounds called gingerols. These substances are believed to explain why so many people with osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis experience reductions in their pain levels and improvements in their mobility when they consume ginger regularly. In two clinical studies involving patients who responded to conventional drugs and those who didn’t, physicians found that 75% of arthritis patients and 100% of patients with muscular discomfort experienced relief of pain and/or swelling.
Arthritis-related problems with your aging knees? Regularly spicing up your meals with fresh ginger may help, suggests a study published in a recent issue of Osteoarthritis Cartilage. In this twelve month study, 29 patients with painful arthritis in the knee (6 men and 23 women ranging in age from 42-85 years) participated in a placebo-controlled, double-blind, crossover study. Patients switched from placebo to ginger or visa versa after 3 months. After six months, the double-blind code was broken and twenty of the patients who wished to continue were followed for an additional six months.
By the end of the first six month period, those given ginger were experiencing significantly less pain on movement and handicap than those given placebo. Pain on movement decreased from a score of 76.14 at baseline to 41.00, while handicap decreased from 73.47 to 46.08. In contrast, those who were switched from ginger to placebo experienced an increase in pain of movement (up to 82.10) and handicap (up to 80.80) from baseline. In the final phase of the study when all patients were getting ginger, pain remained low in those already taking ginger in phase 2, and decreased again in the group that had been on placebo.
Not only did participants’ subjective experiences of pain lessen, but swelling in their knees, an objective measurement of lessened inflammation, dropped significantly in those treated with ginger. The mean target knee circumference in those taking ginger dropped from 43.25cm when the study began to 39.36cm by the 12th week. When this group was switched to placebo in the second phase of the study, their knee circumferences increased, while those who had been on placebo but were now switched to ginger experienced a decrease in knee circumference. In the final phase, when both groups were given ginger, mean knee circumference continued to drop, reaching lows of 38.78 and 36.38 in the two groups.
How does ginger work its anti-inflammatory magic? Two other recent studies provide possible reasons.
A study published in the November 2003 issue of Life Sciences suggests that at least one reason for ginger’s beneficial effects is the free radical protection afforded by one of its active phenolic constituents, 6-gingerol. In this in vitro (test tube) study, 6-gingerol was shown to significantly inhibit the production of nitric oxide, a highly reactive nitrogen molecule that quickly forms a very damaging free radical called peroxynitrite. Another study appearing in the November 2003 issue of Radiation Research found that in mice, five days treatment with ginger (10 mg per kilogram of body weight) prior to exposure to radiation not only prevented an increase in free radical damage to lipids (fats found in numerous bodily components from cell membranes to cholesterol), but also greatly lessened depletion of the animals’ stores of glutathione, one of the body’s most important internally produced antioxidants.
A study published in the February 2005 issue of the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine sheds further light on the mechanisms of action that underlie ginger’s anti-inflammatory effectiveness. In this research, ginger was shown to suppress the pro-inflammatory compounds (cytokines and chemokines) produced by synoviocytes (cells comprising the synovial lining of the joints), chrondrocytes (cells comprising joint cartilage) and leukocytes (immune cells).
Protection against Colorectal Cancer
Gingerols, the main active components in ginger and the ones responsible for its distinctive flavor, may also inhibit the growth of human colorectal cancer cells, suggests research presented at the Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research, a major meeting of cancer experts that took place in Phoenix, AZ, October 26-30, 2003.
In this study, researchers from the University of Minnesota’s Hormel Institute fed mice specially bred to lack an immune system a half milligram of (6)-gingerol three times a week before and after injecting human colorectal cancer cells into their flanks. Control mice received no (6)-gingerol.
Tumors first appeared 15 days after the mice were injected, but only 4 tumors were found in the group of -gingerol-treated mice compared to 13 in the control mice, plus the tumors in the -gingerol group were smaller on average. Even by day 38, one mouse in the (6)-gingerol group still had no measurable tumors. By day 49, all the control mice had been euthanized since their tumors had grown to one cubic centimeter (0.06 cubic inch), while tumors in 12 of the (6)-gingerol treated mice still averaged 0.5 cubic centimeter—half the maximum tumor size allowed before euthanization.
Research associate professor Ann Bode noted, “These results strongly suggest that ginger compounds may be effective chemopreventive and/or chemotherapeutic agents for colorectal carcinomas.”
In this first round of experiments, mice were fed ginger before and after tumor cells were injected. In the next round, researchers will feed the mice ginger only after their tumors have grown to a certain size. This will enable them to look at the question of whether a patient could eat ginger to slow the metastasis of a nonoperable tumor. Are they optimistic? The actions of the University of Minnesota strongly suggest they are. The University has already applied for a patent on the use of (6)-gingerol as an anti-cancer agent and has licensed the technology to Pediatric Pharmaceuticals (Iselin, N.J.).
Ginger Induces Cell Death in Ovarian Cancer Cells
Lab experiments presented at the 97th Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer, by Dr Rebecca Lui and her colleagues from the University of Michigan, showed that gingerols, the active phytonutrients in ginger, kill ovarian cancer cells by inducing apoptosis (programmed cell death) and autophagocytosis (self-digestion).
Ginger extracts have been shown to have both antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-tumor effects on cells. To investigate the latter, Dr Liu examined the effect of a whole ginger extract containing 5% gingerol on a number of different ovarian cancer cell lines.
Exposure to the ginger extract caused cell death in all the ovarian cancer lines studied.
A pro-inflammatory state is thought to be an important contributing factor in the development of ovarian cancer. In the presence of ginger, a number of key indicators of inflammation (vascular endothelial growth factor, interleukin-8 and prostaglandin E2) were also decreased in the ovarian cancer cells.
Conventional chemotherapeutic agents also suppress these inflammatory markers, but may cause cancer cells to become resistant to the action of the drugs. Liu and her colleagues believe that ginger may be of special benefit for ovarian cancer patients because cancer cells exposed to ginger do not become resistant to its cancer-destroying effects. In the case of ovarian cancer, an ounce of prevention—in the delicious form of liberal use of ginger—is an especially good idea. Ovarian cancer is often deadly since symptoms typically do not appear until late in the disease process, so by the time ovarian cancer is diagnosed, it has spread beyond the ovaries. More than 50% of women who develop ovarian cancer are diagnosed in the advanced stages of the disease.
Immune Boosting Action
Ginger can not only be warming on a cold day, but can help promote healthy sweating, which is often helpful during colds and flus. A good sweat may do a lot more than simply assist detoxification. German researchers have recently found that sweat contains a potent germ-fighting agent that may help fight off infections. Investigators have isolated the gene responsible for the compound and the protein it produces, which they have named dermicidin. Dermicidin is manufactured in the body’s sweat glands, secreted into the sweat, and transported to the skin’s surface where it provides protection against invading microorganisms, including bacteria such as E. coli and Staphylococcus aureus (a common cause of skin infections), and fungi, including Candida albicans.
Ginger is so concentrated with active substances, you don’t have to use very much to receive its beneficial effects. For nausea, ginger tea made by steeping one or two 1/2-inch slices (one 1/2-inch slice equals 2/3 of an ounce) of fresh ginger in a cup of hot water will likely be all you need to settle your stomach. For arthritis, some people have found relief consuming as little as a 1/4-inch slice of fresh ginger cooked in food, although in the studies noted above, patients who consumed more ginger reported quicker and better relief.
The spice ginger is the underground rhizome of the ginger plant, known botanically as Zingiber officinale. The plant’s botanical name is thought to be derived from its Sanskrit name singabera which means “horn shaped,” a physical characteristic that ginger reflects.
The flesh of the ginger rhizome can be yellow, white or red in color, depending upon the variety. It is covered with a brownish skin that may either be thick or thin, depending upon whether the plant was harvested when it was mature or young. The ginger rhizome has a firm, yet striated texture and a taste that is aromatic, pungent and hot.
Native to south eastern Asia, a region whose cuisines still feature this wonderfully spicy herb, ginger has been renowned for millennia in many areas throughout the world. Ginger is mentioned in ancient Chinese, Indian and Middle Eastern writings, and has long been prized for its aromatic, culinary and medicinal properties. After the ancient Romans imported ginger from China almost two thousand years ago, its popularity in Europe remained centred in the Mediterranean region until the Middle Ages when its use spread throughout other countries. Although it was a very expensive spice, owing to the fact that it had to be imported from Asia, it was still in great demand. In an attempt to make it more available, Spanish explorers introduced ginger to the West Indies, Mexico and South America, and in the 16th century, these areas began exporting the precious herb back to Europe.
Today, the top commercial producers of ginger include Jamaica, India, Fiji, Indonesia and Australia.
How to Select and Store
Whenever possible, choose fresh ginger over the dried form of the spice since it is not only superior in flavour but contains higher levels of gingerol as well as ginger’s active protease (it’s anti-inflammatory compound). Fresh ginger root is sold in the produce section of markets. When purchasing fresh ginger root, make sure it is firm, smooth and free of mould. Ginger is generally available in two forms, either young or mature. Mature ginger, the more widely available type, has a tough skin that requires peeling while young ginger, usually only available in Asian markets, does not need to be peeled.
Even through dried herbs and spices like ginger powder are widely available in supermarkets, you may want to explore the local spice stores in your area. Oftentimes, these stores feature an expansive selection of dried herbs and spices that are of superior quality and freshness than those offered in regular markets. Just like with other dried spices, when purchasing dried ginger powder try to select organically grown ginger since this will give you more assurance that it has not been irradiated.
Ginger is also available in several other forms including crystallized, candied and pickled ginger.
Fresh ginger can be stored in the refrigerator for up to three weeks if it is left unpeeled. Stored unpeeled in the freezer, it will keep for up to six months.
Dried ginger powder should be kept in a tightly sealed glass container in a cool, dark and dry place. Alternatively, you can store it in the refrigerator where it will enjoy an extended shelf life of about one year.
Tips for Preparing and Cooking
Tips for Preparing Ginger
To remove the skin from fresh mature ginger, peel with a paring knife. The ginger can then be sliced, minced or julienned. The taste that ginger imparts to a dish depends upon when it is added during the cooking process. Added at the beginning, it will lend a subtler flavour while added near the end, it will deliver a more pungent taste.
How to Enjoy
A Few Quick Serving Ideas
- Turn up the heat while cooling off by making ginger lemonade. Simply combine freshly grated ginger, lemon juice, cane juice or honey and water.
- Add extra inspiration to your rice side dishes by sprinkling grated ginger, sesame seeds and Nori strips on top.
- Combine ginger, soy sauce, olive oil and garlic to make a wonderful salad dressing.
- Add ginger and orange juice to puréed sweet potatoes.
- Add grated ginger to your favourite stuffing for baked apples.
- Spice up your healthy sautéed vegetables by adding freshly minced ginger.
For some of our favourite recipes, click Recipes.
Ginger is not a commonly allergenic food and is not known to contain measurable amounts of oxalates or purines.
For an in-depth nutritional profile click here: Ginger.
In-Depth Nutritional Profile
In addition to the nutrients highlighted in our ratings chart, an in-depth nutritional profile for Ginger is also available. This profile includes information on a full array of nutrients, including carbohydrates, sugar, soluble and insoluble fiber, sodium, vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, amino acids and more.
Introduction to Food Rating System Chart
In order to better help you identify foods that feature a high concentration of nutrients for the calories they contain, we created a Food Rating System. This system allows us to highlight the foods that are especially rich in particular nutrients. The following chart shows the nutrients for which this food is either an excellent, very good, or good source (below the chart you will find a table that explains these qualifications). If a nutrient is not listed in the chart, it does not necessarily mean that the food doesn’t contain it. It simply means that the nutrient is not provided in a sufficient amount or concentration to meet our rating criteria. (To view this food’s in-depth nutritional profile that includes values for dozens of nutrients – not just the ones rated as excellent, very good, or good – please use the link below the chart.) To read this chart accurately, you’ll need to glance up in the top left corner where you will find the name of the food and the serving size we used to calculate the food’s nutrient composition. This serving size will tell you how much of the food you need to eat to obtain the amount of nutrients found in the chart. Now, returning to the chart itself, you can look next to the nutrient name in order to find the nutrient amount it offers, the percent Daily Value (DV%) that this amount represents, the nutrient density that we calculated for this food and nutrient, and the rating we established in our rating system. For most of our nutrient ratings, we adopted the government standards for food labeling that are found in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s “Reference Values for Nutrition Labeling.” Read more background information and details of our rating system.
|Ginger, slices, fresh
GI: very low
Density>=7.6 AND DRI/DV>=10%
Density>=3.4 AND DRI/DV>=5%
Density>=1.5 AND DRI/DV>=2.5%
In-Depth Nutritional Profile for Ginger
- Akoachere JF, Ndip RN, Chenwi EB et al. Antibacterial effect of Zingiber officinale and Garcinia kola on respiratory tract pathogens. East Afr Med J. 2002 Nov;79(11):588-92. 2002.
- Bode A. Ginger is an effective inhibitor of HCT116 human colorectal carcinoma in vivo. paper presented at the Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research Conference, Phoenix, AZ, Ocbober 26-3-, 2003. 2003.
- Borrelli F, Capasso R, Aviello G, Pittler MH, Izzo AA. Effectiveness and safety of ginger in the treatment of pregnancy-induced nausea and vomiting. Obstet Gynecol. 2005 Apr;105(4):849-56. 2005. PMID:15802416.
- Ensminger AH, Ensminger, ME, Kondale JE, Robson JRK. Foods & Nutriton Encyclopedia. Pegus Press, Clovis, California. 1983.
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