Food meets several needs in our lives. It’s used to provide fuel for energy to help us move and carry out daily tasks. It’s used to provide pleasure and help us celebrate special occasions. It keeps us alive and gives us nutrients to remain healthy on the inside. But we can only be healthy if we consume healthy foods, foods that our bodies can use to function properly. Beyond those reasons, however, food has long been used for medicinal purposes as well. And herbs and spices are at the top of the list of healing foods. In this “Food is Medicine” profile, we are going to take a look at some of the health benefits of ginger.
Health Benefits of Ginger: Recent Rise in Fame
Ginger has been used for thousands of years in many cultures in many different ways. That said, we are only just now really discovering how good it is for us. There are new, interesting, and helpful ways this root can benefit our health as well as our taste buds! My favorite thing about ginger is using it in yummy Asian dishes or in cookies for that spicy kick, but there are some surprising health benefits of ginger that will have you adding it to your go-to spice list. Without further ado, here, in no particular order, are 5 of the top health benefits of ginger.
Health Benefits of Ginger #1: Soothe Thy Stomach
One of the most well-known benefits of ginger is its ability to help soothe the stomach. Many doctors recommend its use for pregnant women to relieve morning sickness. But it goes beyond prenatal care. Other intestinal benefits include relieving motion sickness, helping with nausea or loss of appetite after surgery or cancer treatment, treating diarrhea, blocking acid from heartburn, and neutralizing gas in the digestive system. Ginger not only relieves every day digestive discomfort, it also has been shown to reduce your risk of bacterial infections in the stomach. The next time your tummy is in distress, try a warm ginger tea.
Health Benefits of Ginger #2: Reduce Inflammation
Another natural health benefit of ginger is that it is an anti-inflammatory. That’s good news because so many of today’s diseases have inflammation at the root of them: arthritis, diabetes and even cancer! A study published in the British Journal of Nutrition has shown that ginger has “anti-cancer” properties which help fight off the disease, including the more difficult to treat lung, ovarian, colon, breast, skin, and pancreatic cancers. It is also helpful in opening up the bronchial tubes for those that suffer with asthma because of its anti-inflammatory and analgesic (pain-relieving) properties. Speaking of pain-relieving…
Health Benefits of Ginger #3: Pain Reliever
We know that when we reduce inflammation in the body, we have less pain. But ginger is also known for relieving other kinds of pain, all without the side-effects some medicines cause. It can reduce the pain of migraines, calm menstrual cramps, reduce pain that comes with osteoarthritis, and ginger can be used to treat “exercise-induced muscle soreness.”
Health Benefits of Ginger #4: Bolster Immune System
Another health benefit of ginger is that your immune system strength is improved when you consume it. A recent study reported solid evidence that ginger can help prevent respiratory illness. Not only that, but ginger can aid in you getting healthy more quickly if you do come down with something because it acts as a natural expectorant, breaking up mucus in the sinuses and “getting things moving.”
Health Benefits of Ginger #5: Metabolism Booster
One of my favorite health benefits of ginger is its ability to help boost metabolism (the rate at which you burn calories) and your body’s ability to burn fat. Who wouldn’t like a little help in that area? Research in this area shows that ginger is a “thermogenic” spice, meaning it increases thermogenesis in your body. Thermogenesis is the process in which the body burns calories to utilize the foods you have just eaten. So by including ginger in our daily diet we can boost metabolism by up to 5% and fat burning by up to 16%. I’ll take it!
Health Benefits of Ginger: How to Consume It
In order to realize the health benefits of ginger, we obviously have to consume it. Most commonly, ginger is used in meals like stir fry and other Asian dishes, salad dressings, cookies, cakes, and even some sodas (ginger-ale anyone?).
Here is a great ginger-infused recipe that I really like. Thanks to LetsDishRecipes.com for sharing it with the world.
Honey-Ginger Roasted Carrots Ingredients
- 1 pound carrots, peeled (whole or cut into pieces; larger carrots may need to be halved lengthwise)
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 12 teaspoons fresh grated ginger
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- Salt & pepper, to taste
- Sesame seeds, for garnish (optional)
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray.
- In a large bowl, whisk together honey, olive oil, ginger, soy sauce, garlic, brown sugar and salt and pepper.
- Place carrots in bowl with glaze and toss.
- Bake for 15-25 minutes (depending on the size of your carrots), turning and stirring once during cooking, until carrots are tender.
- If desired, sprinkle with sesame seeds before serving. Serves 4.
Tea is a simple and very soothing way to enjoy ginger. In fact, the other night I made ginger tea foe my bellyache and I can tell you that it definitely helped! There are many ginger teas on the grocery store shelves. Look for an “all natural” brand without additives or sweeteners. It’s always best to add your own sweetness to your foods so you can control the amount of sugars you’re consuming.
Making your own ginger tea is pretty simple. You can cut off a couple of inches of the root, slice it thinly, and let it steep in hot water. You can also peel the root and add minced ginger to whatever tea you are already drinking. And you don’t have to make it one ingredient flavor. Have fun with it. Add things such as lemon, honey, or cinnamon to make your own varieties of ginger tea.
And in the summertime, if you prefer iced tea rather than hot, you can mix one teaspoon of organic powdered ginger per gallon of tea. Add some lemon in there and you have a great anti-inflammatory drink that will help keep you cool as well!
NOTE: As a general rule, you should not consume more than 4 grams of ginger per day. If you’re using it in your recipes here and there, that won’t likely be an issue. But if you develop a ginger tea addiction, you may need to watch out!
Health Benefits of Ginger: How to Buy Ginger
You can buy ginger in the raw from most grocery stores in the produce section. It’s a strange looking beast, but don’t be intimidated by it. Of course ground ginger can also be found in the spice aisle. Or if you want to get really fancy, you can find concentrated ginger in liquid form as an extract. So for cooking, raw, ground, or extract form are your primary options and are widely available.
Health Benefits of Ginger: Conclusion
As you can see, ginger is relatively easy to add to many dishes to “spice them up.” Not only will your taste buds be enjoying themselves as you add ginger to your meals, but your body will be thanking you as well. The health benefits of ginger are proof positive that indeed, food is medicine.