Is Ginger Good For You?
If you’re wondering if ginger is good for you, the answer is yes. Loaded with vitamins and minerals, ginger is one of the healthiest spices in the world and has been utilized by various cultures for thousands of years. Ginger can be consumed in a number of ways and is used in cooking, cosmetics, and even medicine.
What is Ginger?
Ginger is a tropical flowering plant that was originally grown in Southeast Asia but can now be found all over the world. It’s a leafy plant that grows to be about three feet tall, but it’s the ginger root that is the sought-after part. Ginger is harvested by pulling the entire plant out of the ground to obtain the root, then discarding the leaves. Once harvested and cleaned, ginger root can be eaten fresh, dried and ground into a spice, or made into liquid extracts or tablets.
Close relatives of the ginger plant include cardamom and turmeric, also renowned for their health benefits. While its origins are unknown, we have evidence that ginger has been used both in cooking and for medicinal purposes all over the world for thousands of years.
Ginger Health Benefits
There are a number of vitamins and minerals found in ginger, including:
- Vitamin B3 and B6
- Vitamin C
While there are over 400 different chemical compounds found in ginger, the gingerol compounds are the ones accredited for the majority of the health benefits produced by the ginger root. The powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of gingerol have been proven to aid the body in a number of ways. Health benefits of ginger include:
- Eases stomach pain. Growing up, you may have been told to drink ginger ale to soothe an upset stomach. While drinking soda is not actually a recommended way to cure stomachaches, the “ginger” part of the myth definitely rings true. Chemical compounds found in ginger have been known to ease stomach pain and promote healthy digestion. Studies in pregnant women have shown ginger to significantly reduce morning sickness.
- Can shorten or reduce colds. Ginger root has a warming effect on the body, which can help the body sweat out infection. Gingerol, a compound found in the ginger root, has been known to reduce pain, lower fever, and help suppress a cough.
- Lowers blood sugar. Ginger has been known to help improve blood sugar levels, lowering the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
- Supports your immune system. The antioxidants found in ginger can help strengthen your immune system and have even been known to aid in cancer prevention.
- Promotes good breath. A lesser-known benefit of ginger is that the 6-gingerol compound found in the root stimulates an enzyme in saliva that breaks down the substances that cause bad breath.
- Reduces inflammation. The anti-inflammatory properties in ginger have been known to reduce muscle soreness and joint pain, which is why ginger is found in many bath soaks and scrubs.
- Relieves menstrual cramps. When it comes to menstrual cramps, ginger ranks alongside medications like ibuprofen in relieving the pain.
- Promotes healthy digestion. Consuming ginger reduces the time it takes to empty the stomach, which helps to treat indigestion.
How to Use Ginger
Ginger is used in dishes, medicines, and beauty products all around the world. While using ginger root in its fresh form is preferred for maximum health benefits, the powder form can be used as well and still contains valuable nutrients.
Cooking with Ginger
Ginger is a unique spice that is pungent, sweet, and spicy, with aromatics that are as strong as its flavor. Frequently used in both savory and sweet dishes, ginger brings a powerful punch to any meal. When selecting a ginger root, make sure to choose the one with smooth, firm skin and peel away the skin before cooking with it. Ginger is a popular ingredient in stir-fry, soups, salad dressings, and even cocktails. It can be blended, chopped, or sautéed into the dish of your choice for its delicious flavor and extraordinary health benefits.
Ginger pairs well with a wide variety of flavors, which is why it’s found in everything from chicken soup to ice cream. Here’s a quick guide to flavors that pair well with ginger:
- Spices like cumin, curry, basil, lemongrass, mint, turmeric, chili, cilantro, miso, and garam masala
- Fruit like apples, blueberries, figs, cherries, kiwi, peaches, lemons, limes, oranges, and melon
- Vegetables like mushrooms, asparagus, bok choy, cauliflower, carrot, fennel, potatoes, spinach, and eggplant
- Protein like poultry, beef, seafood, tofu, seitan, chickpeas, almonds, oats, rice, and lentils
If you aren’t sure how to utilize the ginger root you just bought at the grocery store for the first time, take to the internet and you’ll find millions of great recipe ideas. If you’re looking to incorporate ginger into your diet but would rather drink it than eat it, try making ginger tea by steeping chunks of fresh ginger in boiling water for twenty minutes. With all of the incredible benefits ginger provides, it’s definitely worth adding to your daily routine.
Ginger in Beauty Products
In addition to the many health benefits ginger provides, it’s also tremendously popular in the cosmetic world for its significant beauty benefits. Whether you’ve got fresh ginger root or ginger powder, consider using it in your next DIY hair mask, face mask, or bath scrub for healthy, vibrant, and invigorated hair and skin.
Beauty benefits of ginger include:
- Wrinkle prevention. The antioxidant properties of the ginger root help preserve naturally-occurring collagen created in the body, making it a common ingredient in anti-aging beauty products.
- Promotes healthy hair. Ginger increases circulation in the scalp and has been used for years to promote hair growth. The numerous vitamins and minerals found in ginger also aid in treating issues like split ends and dandruff.
- Clears up acne. The antioxidant properties in ginger are beneficial in clearing up acne, blemishes, and even reducing the appearance of scars.
- Reduces cellulite. Ginger is known to improve the elasticity of your skin and help prevent and reduce cellulite.
- Heals cuts and wounds. Loaded with antiseptic properties, ginger is a powerful aid in healing cuts and encouraging cellular regeneration.