Ginger has been a popular herb for centuries. Thousands of years ago, people in India and China grew ginger as a spice to flavor their food as well as a tonic to relieve a number of ailments. Research to verify the medicinal uses of ginger is ongoing, but there is plenty of anecdotal evidence that illustrates the herb's benefits.
Ginger is rich in nutrients, but the primary healthful ingredient is called gingerol, which has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. The following are some of the most potent health benefits of ginger.
1. Treating digestive problems
People who are experiencing problems with digestion may find that ginger will help relieve intestinal irritation. It has been known to slow down gastric contractions to alleviate chronic indigestion.
2. Treating nausea
Ginger is often used by women with morning sickness, and cancer patients have chewed on fresh ginger as a way of managing nausea during treatment. Motion sickness is another problem that ginger may eliminate.
3. Reducing pain
With anti-inflammatory qualities, ginger may reduce muscle pain brought on by exercise. It can also have a positive effect in managing headache and arthritis pain, and there is some evidence that if ginger is taken at the beginning of the cycle, it can reduce menstrual pain.
4. Controlling blood sugar
Researchers are still investigating how ginger impacts blood sugars, but there are some results indicating that it can lower fasting blood sugar. The same properties also result in reducing risks for heart disease.
5. Improving brain function
We want the best quality of life we can achieve throughout our lifetimes. Many believe that a key contributor to Alzheimer's disease is chronic inflammation, because it speeds up the aging process. Ginger's anti-inflammatory properties may help to reduce inflammation that affects the brain. Other studies suggest that ginger may help to improve brain function and protect against damage due to aging.
6. Lowering cholesterol
Studies are ongoing, but there are indications that ginger may play a part in reducing levels of LDL, the "bad" cholesterol, and lowering triglycerides.
7. Fighting infections
Gingerol is being tested to determine the extent to which it can help lower infection rates. It seems to slow or stop the growth of various bacteria, including rhinovirus, a main cause of the common cold. It may also be particularly helpful in controlling gum disease, including gingivitis and periodontitis.
8. Preventing cancer
There is still a lot of controversy about ginger's effectiveness in fighting off cancer, and much more research needs to be done to reach any solid conclusions. However, there is some evidence that the gingerol in ginger may help to protect against the growth of cancer cells.
9. Maintaining healthy blood circulation
Several of the minerals found in ginger, including chromium, magnesium, and zinc, help to improve blood flow.
10. Alleviating respiratory problems
Ginger contains a natural expectorant, so if you have a cough, it can help to break up mucus in your lungs.
11. Strengthening immunity
With its ability to fight inflammation, inhibit fatty acid deposits in arteries, fight infection, and reduce pain, ginger can help improve overall immunity.
How to add ginger to your diet
You may already use ginger as a spice in everything from seafood to pork or apple dishes. If you're buying fresh ginger, look for a smooth-skinned root with a spicy scent. Most often, you'll find recipes that call for fresh ginger to be peeled and grated. You can also make ginger tea using fresh ginger.
Other ways to enjoy ginger include purchasing ground ginger in the spice aisle of your grocery store, or looking for ginger capsules in your local drug store or online.
The powerful benefits you'll receive from adding ginger to your diet can be important for your health. In addition, you may find that doing so will spice up your meals.
Authority Nutrition: 11 Proven Health Benefits of Ginger
Medical News Today: Ginger: Health Benefits, Facts, Research
PubMed: Biological properties of 6-gingerol: a brief review