What Are the Benefits of Ginger: Healthy Tips
Although the delicious flavor of ginger has made it a favorite spice for thousands of years, there are numerous health benefits of ginger that make this spice a secret superfood.
In this article we’ll look at an overview of ginger, some of its health benefits, and a few ways that you can incorporate it into your diet. Let’s dive in!
What is Ginger?
Before we get to all of its incredible health benefits, let’s take a look at ginger in general.
Ginger is a plant that belongs to the Zingiberaceae family, the same family as cardamom and turmeric. It is thought that ginger originated in Southeast Asia.
Although ginger is a flowering plant, the part of the stem that grows underground is what is most commonly used in cooking. For this reason, ginger is sometimes referred to as ginger root.
Ginger comes in several different forms and can be bought fresh, dried, crystallized, candied, powdered, ground, pickled, as an oil or juice, etc. There are also several different types of ginger from different regions whose appearance and flavor vary slightly.
For these reasons, ginger is an extremely versatile spice that can be used in a multitude of different recipes.
Ginger has a delicious, distinct flavor that is spicy, peppery, and strong. When sold in a crystallized or candied form, ginger is often coated in sugar which cuts the spicy kick of fresh ginger.
Different Types of Ginger
The most common type of ginger is Chinese ginger, also known as yellow ginger. If you've ever bought ginger at the grocery store, it was likely Chinese ginger. This type of ginger is known for its tough, light brown skin and pulpy yellow inside. Japanese ginger resembles Chinese ginger but is smaller and more pungent.
Another popular type of ginger is Thai ginger which is often referred to as galangal. The main difference between Chinese ginger and galangal is that the later has a sharper, sweeter flavor with strong notes of citrus. Galangal also has white and pink flesh, so it’s easy to distinguish from Chinese ginger.
Benefits of Ginger
Alongside its delicious flavor, ginger is such a desirable spice because of its incredible health benefits.
In this section, we’ll take a look at some of those health benefits and the science behind them.
Rich in Antioxidants
One of the oils naturally found in ginger is gingerol which is one of the primary bioactive compounds in the spice. Gingerol has antioxidant properties meaning that it can help reduce the stress caused by excess amounts of free radicals in the body.
It’s important to eat foods such as ginger that are rich in antioxidants because free radicals are unstable atoms that have the ability to cause cell damage. Damaged cells lead to both illness and visible signs of aging. Antioxidant-rich foods can help support whole-body health and wellness more than most other nutrients you’ll consume in your day to day!
Helps Combat Nausea & Improves Digestion
For a long time it was common knowledge that ginger helps soothe an unsettled stomach. Recent scientific studies have shown that this is true, especially for pregnant women experiencing morning sickness.
It is thought that ginger combats nausea and improves digestion because it contains enzymes that break up the excess gas that builds up in your intestine. Ginger also positively affects the enzymes trypsin and pancreatic lipase, both of which aid digestion.
Soothes Muscle Soreness & Pain
Ginger also helps reduce muscle pain that stems from both exercise and menstruation. Although the effects are not rapid, ginger tends to ease pain gradually over time.
To use ginger for its soothing effect, it’s best to use fresh ginger either raw or heated.
Ginger has anti-inflammatory properties, which means that it reduces swelling caused by inflammation.
To reduce swelling with ginger, you can either consume it orally or use fresh ginger to make a patch to apply topically to your skin.
Lower Blood Sugars
Although there has not been extensive research done, some studies suggest that ginger can help maintain blood sugar levels and help your body use insulin properly. This could be incredibly useful for people who need to keep a close eye on their blood sugar levels.
How Can You Incorporate Ginger Into Your Diet?
Now that you know some of the incredible health benefits of ginger, let’s take a look at how you can easily and effectively incorporate this unique spice into your diet.
The beauty of ginger is that it works equally well in both sweet and savory recipes, so there’s a wide variety of ways to use ginger at home!
Although you might be wary at first, one great way to incorporate ginger into your diet is by adding ground ginger to your morning cup of coffee. Given that both coffee and ginger are sources of antioxidants, ginger coffee gives you a powerful boost in the morning.
For a more subtle start to the day, consider making yourself a cup of ginger tea in the morning. If you want to forego the premade tea bags and make your own ginger tea at home, you can easily do so by grating fresh ginger into hot tea and allowing it to steep for around 10 minutes, adding honey, agave, or sugar to taste.
If you’re craving ginger in an undiluted form, consider buying pure ginger juice. You can drink it straight or add it to smoothies, dressings, and other sauces to give them a strong ginger flavor.
Ginger is also used as an added flavor in many drinks such as tepache, a traditional Mexican drink made from fermented pineapple.
Ginger pairs nicely with garlic and makes a delicious addition to soups, sauces, and marinades. Thai ginger specifically is used in many Asian soup recipes to give them a sweet, citrus flavor.
Ginger is already a staple in so many classic baked good recipes, from gingerbread to ginger snaps, but feel free to break out of the traditional box when baking with ginger. It is a great addition to recipes with citrus fruits such as lemon and goes well in hearty treats such as scones and biscotti.
Wrapping It Up
Ginger is a delicious spice with several incredible health benefits. Although it comes in many forms, the most popular type of ginger is Chinese or yellow ginger. Regularly eating ginger can ease muscle pain, reduce inflammation, protect you against disease, and improve your gut functioning.
Although it might seem impossible at first, there are several easy ways to incorporate ginger into your diet. You can add a scoop of powdered ginger to your morning coffee or use galangal to make your own Thai soup at home.
Regardless of how you choose to consume ginger, it will undoubtedly have wonderful effects on your overall health and wellness -- not to mention its unique kick is a perfect addition to your favorite drink.