The health benefits of ginger easily make it one of the most popularly used herbs in Asian cooking. Spicy and pungent, it can add flavor to many dishes. Add to it the fact that it is easily available and does not cost a fortune.
Known botanically as Zingiber officinale, it was introduced in Europe in the ninth century and has since become a part of many exotic dishes even outside the Asian frontiers.
10 Health Benefits of Ginger
You might have been using ginger all the while without knowing about the numerous benefits associated with regular intake of this humble spice. There’s obviously more to it than the sharp, pungent flavor!
Here are some of the health benefits of ginger:
1. Loaded with antioxidants:
Ginger is one of the top five naturally occurring antioxidants known to mankind. Zingerone, an antioxidant present in it helps neutralize the effect of peroxynitrite (an oxidant) due to which it helps fight Alzheimer’s disease and many other degenerative diseases.
2. Ginger and digestion:
Consuming small amounts of it regularly help in cleansing the colon by stepping up the production of digestive juices, prevents formation of gas and also helps in treating bowel disorders. Ginger ale has been known to help cure acid reflux/ GERD.
Having a mild ginger tea can help digest heavy meals.
3. Ginger for treating and preventing cold, flu and other respiratory problems:
Ginger has long been used as a potent remedy for fighting cold and flu and for keeping respiratory infections at bay. A few drops of ginger juice added to honey can go a long way in curing a bad throat or a sinus infection. Adding a small piece of it to tea aids in clearing the nasal passage which helps in conditions like asthma and other problems of the respiratory tract.
4. Ginger for lowering blood cholesterol:
Research has proved that having small amounts of it as a matter of routine can help keep the level of blood cholesterol under check by lowering the levels of triglycerides and high density lipoproteins. The health benefits of ginger extend to keeping cardiovascular disease at bay.
5. Ginger for controlling blood sugar levels:
Ginger is a rich source of gingerol, a compound which gives ginger its pungent smell. Gingerol helps increase the production of insulin and, therefore, can be extremely beneficial of diabetics due to its ability to keep the level of blood sugar under check.
6. Ginger for treating morning sickness and nausea:
Adding a few small slices of ginger to a cup of warm water helps fight morning sickness and get rid of early morning nausea. This is probably due to its high vitamin B6 content, though the exact cause of this is still unknown.
7. Ginger as an analgesic:
It possesses anti-inflammatory properties and is a highly potent natural painkiller due to which it provides great relief in problems of the joints like arthritis. According to Chinese medicine, having ginger tea containing a little brown sugar can also provide relief from menstrual cramps (perhaps due to this very reason).
8. Ginger and migraine relief:
A study conducted at the Denmark has proved that it helps reduce platelet aggregation (stickiness of blood) and in blocking chemicals which cause inflammation of the blood vessels present in the brain by acting in a manner very similar to aspirin does.
The results of this finding hold great significance for people who are allergic to aspirin or do not want to pop too many pills (like me!) and would rather prefer the natural way out. If the migraine is not too severe, mix half to 1 teaspoon of fresh ginger juice in about 50 ml of lukewarm water and to get fast relief. It might not taste too good but it sure is better than throwing in handful of chemicals inside your body.
9. Ginger and cancer prevention:
Making ginger a part of your diet can also greatly reduce the risk of various types of cancers. Experts at University of Minnesota have confirmed that health benefits of ginger include a slowdown in the rate of growth of cells which cause colorectal cancer. Similar studies conducted at the University of Michigan have proved that it helps kill cells which cause ovarian cancer.
10. Ginger and acne:
Rubbing a few drops of fresh ginger juice on acne prone area helps reduce the inflammation of the area and causes the acne to fade away gradually after a few days, due to its anti-inflammatory properties.
The list given above is by no mean comprehensive and it has also been known to be effective for treating burns, possess anti microbial properties and in weight loss.
Recent researchers have just gone a step ahead and given scientific evidence to support what our ancestors had been saying for many centuries. Extensive use of this spice in many traditional foods (particularly in South Asia) is probably because the learned Chinese, Indians and Japanese were aware of the many health benefits of ginger.