You’ve probably sipped ginger ale to relieve a stomach ache, or drank ginger tea to shorten a cold, but there are even more ways to take advantage of all the health benefits of ginger. It has both a robust flavor and powerful nutrition.
What Is Ginger?
Ginger comes from the underground root, or rhizome, of the Zingiber officinal plant. It can be dried into a powder or consumed fresh, both with similar health benefits—whether you sip ginger water, turn it into ginger juice, a ginger smoothie, ginger tea, or a ginger stir-fry. The spicy flavor of ginger comes through a bit more when you use the fresh root, so a quarter teaspoon of ground ginger is roughly equivalent to a teaspoon of grated fresh ginger.
The Health Benefits of Ginger
A teaspoon of fresh ginger contains only two calories, but it’s no lightweight. In addition to its long history as a remedy for upset stomachs, this spice has some hard science behind it. Here are the health benefits ginger offers.
Act as an anti-inflammatory; “Ginger root contains several compounds such as gingerols that can prevent or reduce immune cell synthesis of cytokines that cause inflammation,” says David W. Hoskin, Ph.D., a professor at Dalhousie University in Canada. Ginger could help people with diseases caused by chronic inflammation, says Hoskin, and those anti-inflammatory properties might also protect against cancer. (Pair ginger with turmeric, which also has anti-inflammatory benefits, for extra defense.)
Aid recovery after intense exercise; training for a big event that will challenge your muscles? Eating ginger before a tough workout could help you feel stronger afterward, suggests a study published in Phytotherapy Research. People who consumed about four grams (just over two teaspoons) of ground ginger daily for five days before an intense session of resistance exercise were stronger 48 hours post-workout than those who consumed placebos instead.
Reduce LDL cholesterol; your heart will thank you for adding this spice to your diet. A study review published in the journal Phytomedicine revealed that people who supplemented their diet regularly with more than 2,000 mg per day (just a little more than one teaspoon) of ground ginger reduced their artery-clogging LDL cholesterol by about 5 points.
Help you control your blood sugar; ginger can help people with type 2 diabetes improve their condition over time, suggests a study review published in the journal Medicine. People with type 2 diabetes who consumed between just under a teaspoon and only over two teaspoons of ground ginger daily for eight to 12 weeks improved their hemoglobin A1C, a marker that indicates average blood sugar level over the past three months.
Soothe nausea during pregnancy; in a study review published in the journal Expert Review of Clinical Pharmacology, researchers analyzed eight common remedies for nausea in pregnancy. They concluded that ginger is the best choice to reduce both nausea and vomiting. Ginger could help you after the baby arrives, too; women who took a ginger supplement after a C-section recovered their ability to eat sooner than those who popped a placebo, according to research published in Scientific Reports.
Ginger reduces nausea from medical procedures; for people facing cancer treatment or other surgery, ginger can help relieve nausea. Ginger can also help chemotherapy patients feel better even when experiencing some nausea, according to research published in Nutrients.
Ginger eases symptoms of ulcerative colitis( an inflammatory bowel disease) and gastrointestinal condition (which, FYI, affects a lot of women). Taking ginger can reduce the severity of their disease and an increase in quality of life, according to a study published in the journal Complementary Therapies in Medicine.
Reduces cancer risk; the root might be a powerful weapon in the fight against cancer. Researchers have found evidence that gingerol (an active compound in ginger) has cancer-fighting abilities. Namely, it may help in the prevention and treatment of gastrointestinal cancers. Its high antioxidant content is likely responsible for fighting off cancer cell growth. The antioxidants in ginger may even help to slow the aging process.
Relieves menstrual cramps; when it comes to period pain, ginger might be right up there with pain medications, like Advil (ibuprofen). One study found that women who took 250 mg ginger capsules four times a day had the same pain relief as those who took 250 mg of mefenamic acid or 400 mg ibuprofen capsules four times per day.
Shortening or preventing the common cold; we often think of orange juice as the go-to drink for warding off a cold, but fresh ginger juice may be a better choice. The root has a warming effect, which helps with severe symptoms. Drinking ginger can keep you warm while also assisting the body in sweat and get rid of infections.
Keeps your mouth healthy; ginger’s antibacterial power may also brighten your smile. Active compounds in ginger called gingerols keep oral bacteria from growing. These bacteria are the same ones that can cause periodontal disease, a severe gum infection.
Protects against disease; ginger loaded with antioxidants, compounds that prevent stress and damage to your body’s DNA. They may help your body fight off chronic diseases like high blood pressure, heart disease, and diseases of the lungs, plus promote healthy aging.
With all the health benefits ginger has to offer, it’s a no brainer to start incorporating it into your daily life!