What is ginger good for?

Ginger binging
Botanical name: Zingiber officinale

Ginger Nutrition Facts

Ginger, also known as ginger root, is the underground rhizome of the ginger plant (Zingiber officinale), and was prized in Asia for thousands of years because of its medicinal and culinary properties. There are many varieties of ginger, but the most common and sought-after variety has light-brown skin and creamy yellow or light green flesh.1

Ginger has a peppery and slightly sweet taste, with a pungent and spicy aroma. It is a versatile addition to soups, sauces, marinades and a number of other dishes, from baked apples to stir-fried vegetables.

To get the most out of its complex, flavorful nuances, add ginger at both the beginning and end of cooking your meal, and peel it as little as possible.2 In addition to meals, ginger also makes for a pleasant and soothing cup of tea.

Roman traders carried ginger from Arab traders to northern Europe, where it became one of the most popular spices during the Middle Ages.3 Henry VIII even suggested it as a remedy for the plague.4 Nowadays, China, India and Indonesia are some of the top commercial producers of ginger.5

Ginger is available fresh, dried, pickled, candied, ground and powdered. When purchasing fresh ginger, check if the root is firm, smooth and mold-free. Store ginger in the fridge with its peel still on for a longer shelf life. If you accidently cut more ginger than you need, put the extra pieces in a paper bag before storing them in the fridge — they should keep for about a week.6

Health benefits of ginger

Ginger is a good source of vitamin C, magnesium, potassium, copper and manganese.7 It is also listed as an herbal medicine with carminative effects, as it may help promote the release of intestinal gas.8 It has spasmolytic properties as well, making it useful for helping relax and soothe the intestinal tract.9

This herb may be used to help settle an upset stomach,10 relieve vomiting,11 inhibit nausea12 and ease diarrhea.13 It’s also considered a safe, natural remedy against morning sickness, motion sickness and chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting.14,15,16

The main bioactive compound of ginger is gingerol, which is responsible for many of its medicinal properties, including antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, analgesic and anti-nausea.17 Studies also found ginger to be protective against several cancers, including ovarian,18 colorectal,19 lung20 and breast cancers.21

Research supports the effectiveness of ginger as a pain reliever. A study published in the Journal of Pain found that daily consumption of raw and heat-treated ginger may help reduce muscle pain caused by exercise-induced muscle injury.22

Another study published in Arthritis also found that the phytochemical constituents of ginger may help relieve the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.23 To learn more about the nutritional value of ginger, check out the table below:24

Ginger nutrition facts

Serving Size: 1 tsp (2 grams), root, raw
  Amt. Per
Serving
% Daily
Value*
Calories 2  
Calories from Fat 0  
Total Fat 0.01 g  
Saturated Fat 0.04 g  
Trans Fat    
Cholesterol 0 mg  
Sodium 0 mg  
Total Carbohydrates 0.36 g  
Dietary Fiber 0 g  
Sugar 0.03 g  
Protein 0 g  
Choline 0.6 mg Vitamin C 0.1 mg
Potassium 8 mg Iron 0.01 mg

Studies on ginger

A randomized, controlled study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine evaluated the safety and efficiency of ginger extract against diclofenac, a prescription drug, when it comes to managing osteoarthritis of the knee or hip. Diclofenac is a type of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), and is the leading cause of one of the most common and serious osteoarthritis therapy complication: gastropathy.

Forty-three patients were divided into two groups; Half were given ginger, while the other half were given diclofenac (as well as 1,000 milligrams of glucosamine) every day for four weeks. Gastrointestinal pain, dyspepsia and esophageal mucosa levels were evaluated in each.

The ginger patients reported higher mucus levels and significantly lowered dyspepsia pain, while the diclofenac group showed increased dyspepsia pain and significantly decreased stomach mucosa. The researchers concluded that ginger is as effective as prescription drugs at alleviating osteoarthritis, but it’s much safer as it doesn’t cause gastrointestinal problems.25

Another study published in the Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology found that ginger may help fight against breast carcinomas by promoting apoptotic cancer cell death.26 A compound extracted from ginger root was also shown to be toxic to colorectal cancer cells in other research, making it potentially useful in reducing the risk for colorectal cancer.27

One study published in Anticancer Agents in Medicinal Chemistry also found that ginger has a chemoprotective effect against lung cancer, as its polyphenolic extract may help neutralize and inhibit the proliferation of a lung cancer cell line.28

Ginger healthy recipes:
Pickled cucumbers with ginger

Ginger Healthy Recipes

Ingredients:

4 cucumbers, peeled

½ cup sea salt

1 cup brown rice vinegar

2 tsp stevia, or to taste

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

6 tablespoons sliced fresh ginger, peeled

   

Procedure:

  1. Slice the cucumbers very thinly. Place in large bowl and sprinkle with sea salt. Using your hands, toss around the cucumber slices to coat them well with salt, lightly squeezing the slices as you toss.
  2. Cover the bowl and let sit at room temperature for one hour. The salt will draw the water content out of the cucumber slices.
  3. Pour the cucumber slices into a colander to drain. While in the colander, use your hands to squeeze out as much water as possible from the slices, and then put them back to the bowl.
  4. Add in the vinegar, stevia, salt, pepper and ginger. Toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate 12 to 24 hours.
  5. Remove from refrigerator and taste. It should be tart with a bit of sweetness and spice. Adjust flavors if necessary by adding more stevia or pepper. If it tastes watery, drain some liquid and add more vinegar.

This recipe makes four servings.

(From “Healthy Recipes for Your Nutritional Type” by Dr. Joseph Mercola)

Ginger fun facts

Ginger ale was invented in Ireland in 1851, quickly becoming one of America's favorite beverages by the 1880s.29 However, soda made from chemically enhanced concoctions, artificial flavoring and high-fructose corn syrup edged it out by the end of World War II.30,31

Summary

There's hardly a culinary use that ginger can't enhance. But while ginger cookies, ginger tea and ginger in stir-fries, salad dressings or desserts are tasty, this ancient root is also noteworthy for its important therapeutic capabilities.

Drinking hot ginger tea allows you to obtain its saponins, flavonoids and other beneficial compounds that may help improve your cardiovascular function.32 It's also effective in alleviating nausea and vomiting caused by motion sickness, morning sickness and chemotherapy.33,34,35

Ginger may help reduce osteoarthritis pain and joint inflammation without side effects.36 It may also help protect against several cancers, including ovarian,37 colorectal,38 lung39 and breast40 cancers. The beauty of ginger is its versatility in nearly every type of food. Try mixing organic powdered ginger in tea for a refreshing and soul-healing thirst-quencher.