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Ginger is a miraculous herb that has a distinctive hot flavour. It is used to spice up curries, cakes, and beverages in many traditional cuisines in the world. In Indian, South Asian and Middle Eastern cuisines, ginger is one of the most commonly used condiments. Ginger is known to possess anti-inflammatory properties which can be useful in relieving arthritic pain. It can relieve menstrual cramps, reduce nausea and queasiness, and settle an upset stomach. It is used to treat minor problems of cold, flu and migraines. Gingerol and shogaol, two bioactive compounds in ginger, either raw or dried, are known for their anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory properties. Ginger also has compounds like zingerone, flavonoids, zurumbone, olioraisins etc. that are known to be antimicrobial in nature.
What is Ginger?
Ginger is a rhizome that belongs to the Zingiberaceae family. Ginger has a rich earthy hot flavour and is used as a spice in many cuisines around the globe. The word ginger owes its origin to the Sanskrit word srngaveram- srngam meaning horn and vera meaning body owing to the horned like look of ginger. Ginger has myriad health benefits and is hence a vital ingredient in Ayurveda and folk medicines. Recent researches on ginger and its extract revealed that the herb can be essential in curing a lot of health ailments. In this article, we have made a list of some of the health benefits of consuming ginger and its products.
Benefits of Ginger
1. Powerful Antioxidant
According to an article published by the National Centre for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) ginger is a powerful antioxidant. Gingerol and shogaol are proven to inhibit the production of pro anti-inflammatory cytokines. Regular consumption of ginger helps the cells combat oxidative stress that is caused by free radicals.
2. Can cure nausea
Another research article published by the NCBI suggests that ginger and its compounds accumulate in the stomach and intestines. It acts as a pain reliever and works as an anti-nausea agent. Ginger prevents queasiness, retching and vomiting tendencies associated with chemotherapy, pregnancy and other surgeries. It also prevents the gastrointestinal tract from infections.
3. Can reduce cholesterol levels
Ginger is effective in reducing LDL (bad cholesterol) and increasing HDL (good cholesterol) in the body. Bad cholesterol can lead to problems like type II diabetes and heart diseases. It also improves lipid metabolism of the body, an article published in the NCBI concluded. Diabetic people who consume ginger are shown to have lower levels of triglycerides than others.
4. Regulates Blood Pressure
An article published by the Pennington Biomedical Research Centre (PBRC) concluded that ginger is effective in regulating the body’s blood pressure. The efficacy of ginger as a potent regulator of blood pressure was assessed under varied dosages and researchers found reduction in platelet aggregation in Coronary Heart Disease Patients.
5. Prevents allergic reactions
Ginger and its compounds have anti- inflammatory properties that help reduce inflammation of the muscles, joints and bones. Asthma and other allergic reactions cause the inflammation of the respiratory tract thereby constricting the air passage. Ginger is effective in the prevention and treatment of allergies, according to a report published by the NCBI. It also reduces pulmonary inflation and gingerol is effective in reducing eosinophil and other allergens in the blood and lungs.
6. Anti-carcinogenic properties
Recent findings by the Pennington Biomedical Research Centre (PBRC) revealed that ginger can be used the prevention of benign or malign tumours and cancer. Ginger and its components suppress VEGF, a component that inducts tumours. It also inhibits the formation of new blood vessels that can lead to tumours and cancer.
7. Can prevent Diabetes
Diabetes Co. UK, in a published article suggested that researchers from Sydney, Australia found that regular consumption of ginger with high concentrations of gingerol can effectively cure diabetes. Another research by the NCBI also suggests that ginger has anti diabetic effect. When supplemented with ginger along with other things, the muscle can uptake more glucose without the use of insulin.
8. May prevent arthritis and osteoarthritis
Many researches have been conducted on the effectiveness of ginger to cure diseases like arthritis and osteoarthritis. Studies have claimed that ginger can effectively treat joint pains in arthritis and the herb has since a long time been used to cure pain. Arthritis Organisation too suggests that ginger is effective in treating arthritis. But the evidence proving the efficacy of ginger is weak. However, the inefficacy can also be attributed to clinical practices, dosage of ginger administered and instrumentation among other things.
9. Prevents morning sickness
More and more would-be mothers and their families are turning to traditional medicinal practices over modern medicines. Adverse effects of the chemical drugs on the foetus are making them choose herbal medication. A paper published by the NCBI concluded that ginger can be used as a convenient and accessible herb to cure gestational nausea and vomiting.
10. Prevents Bacterial Infections:
Ginger is known to possess antibacterial and antimicrobial properties. Ginger prevents the growth of Helicobacter Pylori in the stomach and small intestine. H Pylori is known to cause sores, ulcers, infections and cancer of the stomach and small intestine. Research showed that ginger is effective in the treatment of ulcers and other infections as it kills H Pylori and other such microbes.
Nutritional Values of Ginger
Nutritional value contained in 100 gms of Ginger
|Dietary Fiber||2 g|
|Thiamine B1||0.025 mg|
|Riboflavin B2||0.034 mg|
|Niacin B3||0.75 mg|
|Pantothenic Acid B5||0.203 mg|
|Vitamin B6||0.16 mg|
|Folate B9||11 µg|
|Vitamin C||5 mg|
|Vitamin E||0.26 mg|
Risks or Precautions when consuming Ginger
- Excessive consumption of ginger may lead to diarrhoea. Ginger accelerates the movement of digested food and stool through the bowels.
- Ginger is known for its anti-platelet or blood thinning properties. Although it is effective in the prevention of clots in the heart or brain, too much ginger can lead to excessive menstrual bleeding. The consumption of ginger is also discouraged when a person is bleeding.
- Ginger is used in the treatment of diabetes. But when supplemented along with diabetes medication, ginger can lead to hyperglycaemia where the blood sugar levels in the body drops below normal.
- The National Centre for Complementary and Integrative Health suggested that when consumed in large quantities, ginger can lead to gas, bloating and discomfort. It can also aggravate problems of gastroenteritis.
How to Consume Ginger
Ginger is an amazing food. It can be incorporated in the diet in many forms:
- Ginger Tea
Take half an inch of ginger, peel it, wash it and gate it. Then heat two cups of water over medium flame. As soon as it comes to a rolling boil, add the grated ginger and reduce the flame. Reduce the liquid to half of its initial quantity. Strain the liquid. Add a dash of lemon and a spoon of honey to the strained liquid. Your ginger tea is ready for consumption.
- Crystallized ginger
Take a cup of water in a saucepan and heat it over high flame till it comes to a boil. Lower the flame and add 250 gms of sugar. Once the sugar dissolves and the syrup is boiling, add in chopped pieces of ginger. Keep boiling till ginger pieces become tender. Place the ginger on a tray and let them air dry. Toss them in granulated sugar and store them in an airtight jar. Consume this candy post meals.
- Ginger marmalade
Ginger marmalade is one of the tastiest and wholesome things to be ever invented. You can make the marmalade using some simple ingredients like ginger, water, sugar, salt and pectin. Or you can purchase a can of marmalade straight from a grocery store and slather it on your toast for breakfast. Anyway it will do wonders for you.
Some Fun Facts about Ginger
- Ginger is a perennial herb that belongs to the family Zingiberaceae. Other herbs that belong to the same family are galangal, turmeric and cardamom.
- The origin of ginger is traced to the rainforests of the Indian subcontinent from where the plant spread to South Asia.
- Ginger is used as a key ingredient in many alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages like ginger ale, ginger beer and ginger wine.
- India is the largest producer of ginger in the world that alone accounts for 35% of the world’s produce of the herb.
Ginger can be consumed in many forms: raw, as ginger tea, crystallised ginger, ginger ale, candied ginger or can be added to curries or soups. While many medical researchers are being undertaken to mine the pharmacological properties of ginger, you can easily add this humble herb to your everyday diet to stay healthy and fit.