Ginger has been used for food and medicinal purposes for centuries, both in the East and the West, from China and India to the United States. From sweet to savory, it has many health benefits. While some health benefits of ginger are still in debate (such as its effectiveness in treating motion sickness), other benefits have withstood both the test of time and medical scrutiny. Also, it can be made into nummy cookies that can be used to make teeny little holiday houses.
Ginger can be purchased in powder form to be sprinkled in your favorite dishes, or in root form to be chopped or grated. It is a flavorful addition to tea, soups, stir fry, cookies, or anything else your imagination can come up with. It is relatively inexpensive, available at nearly every grocery store, and easy to store at home. On top of medicinal benefits, it has relatively low side effects, unlike many prescription or OTC medicines.
Additional Ginger Information
- Do not give ginger to children under five.
- It may interact with other medications; notify your doctor if you decide to take ginger.
- Ginger should be safe to take while pregnant; however, you should still notify your doctor.
- Side effects may include heartburn, gas, and diarrhea.
- In general, adults should limit intake to 4 grams per day; pregnant women should limit intake to 1 gram per day.
One benefit of ginger is its ability to get rid of nausea. Gingerol, the active ingredient in ginger root, is well known for its health benefits, especially for digestive upset. When I was a little girl and had a stomachache, my parents would always give me 7 Up. Really, it was ginger ale they should have thought of. After having 7 Up and puking on the table at a Christmas party, that ended. This should not diminish the benefits of ginger. Real ginger in tea, food, and even some sodas, can quickly settle an upset stomach. Just be sure it is real ginger, with gingerol, and not ginger flavoring. Ginger flavoring lacks the depth of flavor AND the health benefits.
Ginger can get rid of morning sickness. Pregnancy can be an exciting but dangerous time for a woman and her child. Many common foods, additives, and over-the-counter medications should be avoided while pregnant. It can be just as effective as over-the-counter medications at reducing morning sickness, but without the side effects and possible hazards to the fetus. Ginger tea is one of the most effective ways to get rid of morning sickness. That said, be sure to contact your physician for information on what is/isn’t safe to consume while pregnant. Drug interactions and other negative side effects are always possible.
Ginger benefits include reducing inflammation. More research needs to be conducted, but some evidence suggests that ginger can reduce inflammation. The anti-inflammation properties in ginger root may be especially helpful for those suffering from osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis. While other medications may reduce inflammation, they may also have debilitating side effects such as liver damage or ulcers. Some medications may be habit forming. Ginger, on the other hand, has only mild side effects, if any, and is not habit forming. Ginger can also be hella cheaper than prescription or over-the-counter medication. As usual, talk with your doctor before taking ginger as an anti-inflammatory.
One possible health benefit of ginger may be antimicrobial attributes. There is mounting evidence that ginger may be antimicrobial in nature, meaning it kills those nasty, microscopic things that grow where they shouldn’t. This makes ginger an excellent spice for food preservation; one reason ginger’s popularity has spread, literally, around the globe. Spoiled or contaminated food is still a danger, although not quite as much as in the past. Ginger may also inhibit the growth of certain bacterias known to cause diarrhea. On top of these, ginger tastes way better than that pink chalky crap you have to choke down to get rid of diarrhea.
Ginger can benefit your health simply by being an awesome flavor. So many prepared foods are unhealthy. Salt can raise blood pressure and cause water retention. Sugar adds many unnecessary calories. Condiments, such as ketchup, are often little more than sugar or salt. Ginger, on the other hand, adds zest to sweet and savory foods. From cookies to cupcakes, stir fry to sushi, ginger adds flavor and all of its health benefits—without the addition of unhealthy salts, fats, preservatives, or common chemicals. Using ginger (with a little honey and soy sauce) instead of prepared stir fry sauce can get rid of hundreds of calories in one meal.
Ginger root. Go straight-up, purchased as-is at your local grocery store. This provides the freshest, most flexible form of ginger. Buy it from your local grocery store, wash it, and simply pop it into the fridge’s vegetable crisper for storage. From there you can peel it, dice it, pickle it, puree it, or steep it in hot water; it is incredibly flexible.
Powdered ginger. This form is most used in cakes, cupcakes, cookies, and other sweets. It will have a slightly different, less pungent flavor. One of the upsides is its ease of use. It can be put in a cupboard and pretty much forgotten until you bust it out for cookies. It should have the same benefits as fresh ginger.
Ginger tea. This is an excellent way to add ginger to your diet. It can help settle stomachs and get rid of morning sickness. Ginger tea can provide all the health benefits of ginger in a drinkable form. Choose either a pre-made tea, or make your own. Steeping peeled ginger root in hot water will release the gingerols and ginger flavor. Adding honey can provide additional health benefits as well as sweetness. We highly recommend Tazo Green Ginger tea, sold here at Amazon.
How to Prepare Ginger Root
One reasons Americans don’t consume as many fresh fruits and vegetables as they should is the difficulty in preparing/storing said fruits and vegetables. To make using fresh ginger root a little bit easier (and a little more likely), follow these steps. First, be sure to thoroughly wash and scrub the root. Rinsing it isn’t enough. The rough surface can hold a lot of grit. Scrub it well. Afterward, peel the skin. This can be done fairly easily with a vegetable peeler. From here, it can be sliced, ground, grated, pickled, or whatever it is you’d like to do with it. Just keep in mind that the nutritional benefits are typically most potent when fresh. Overprocessing can sometimes reduce the potency of the ginger (as in ginger cookies), though this isn’t always the case. Dried and powdered, it can increase the potency of the gingerols. Typically speaking, it is used to make tea, stir fry, and other savory dishes. Powdered ginger is often used in cookies, cakes, etc.