During the Nutritional Diploma I am currently doing, ginger is something that keeps coming up for its various benefits. So I thought of sharing more information about this humble root.
Benefits of ginger
Ginger has been used in herbal and ayurvedic medicine for centuries and I have grown up with lots of ginger teas for colds and coughs, when I was little. It is not surprising that now ginger is getting more attention for its health advantages.
Ginger has antiemetic properties. It has been seen to reduce the nausea and vomiting associated with early pregnancy (1). In fact in this randomised controlled trial ginger was more effective than vitamin B6, which is sometimes used a treatment for nausea and vomiting related to pregnancy. It has also been seen to be beneficial for nausea symptoms associated with chemotherapy (2)(3).
It is interesting to note that the antiemetic properties were not noticed to be beneficial when used with nausea and vomiting related to post-operative surgical procedures (4).
Analgesic effect of ginger has shown to be beneficial with period pains (5). The anti-inflammatory properties are the ones that have been the most studied. In one study ginger was seen to have an add on effect to pain relief in knee osteoarthritis while in another the effects were shown to be similar to ibuprofen- this was really interesting to me as ibuprofen is known to have several side effects, where ginger is pretty harmless in small amounts which we use in food and drinks (7) (8).
These health benefits of ginger have been seen to be due to the phenols gingerols and shogaols, which act as anti-oxidants responsible for the anti-inflammatory, anti-emetic and analgesic effect (6).
In a very recent paper, consistent evidence of ginger and its effect on reduction of insulin resistance has been discussed. So ginger has been seen to have a positive effect on controlling sugar levels in diabetics. This journal article also showed beneficial effect of ginger on weight loss, blood pressure control and gastrointestinal symptoms, though the evidence was small. (9)
Fresh ginger vs dry ginger
The fresh root contains more of the gingerols as compared to the dry ginger which has more of the shogaols. The antioxidant properties are more in the dry form which I was surprised to learn, but heating and cooking does destroy the antioxidant effect. Shelf life is a big reason for choosing one over the other, as dry ginger can last for ages. Not to forget, the powder form is easier to carry and incorporate in recipes.
From benefit point of view, I did not find any evidence that one is better than the other, so I would choose whichever one goes with your plan!
Ways to add ginger to daily diet
So enough of the information and let’s see some simple tips to include ginger in day to day routine.
- Adding to smoothies– this is my favourite way to make sure I get my daily dose and I use half an inch of fresh ginger most days.
- In tea– Having grown up with ginger teas, I still like to make a nice brew when the temperatures start dipping. I mostly use fresh ginger for my masala chai but also make a nice blend of dry ginger, cinnamon powder with turmeric which I can carry when I am travelling.
- Adding to curries– I add ginger to most of my Indian, Thai and Chinese dishes. My boys don’t like bits of ginger in food so I tend to use freshly grated ginger for these recipes.
- Baking with ginger – I just love the aroma in the house when making gingerbread men or ginger pudding. For baking I mostly use dry powder form.
- Grated fresh ginger to soups– I love adding fresh ginger to some of my soups right at the end and it just lifts the flavours so much. Specially in pumpkin soup!
- Adding to water– simply adding some chunks of ginger to a jug of water with fresh lime or mint can add flavour. I have to do these little tweaks as I find it hard to keep up my water intake if I don’t.
The good thing is that no major side effects are caused by using ginger and the only one mentioned in research is heartburn with high dosage (4). So adding small amounts to our meals or drinks should not be a cause of concern, given all the other benefits we have just discussed.
Let me know if you have other ways you use ginger…always happy to learn something new!
Have a blessed week.