Ginger: Health benefits and dietary tips
Author: Megan Ware RDN LD
Reviewed by Deborah Weatherspoon, PhD, RN, CRNA
Ginger is a popular ingredient in cooking, and especially in Asian and Indian cuisine. It has also been used for thousands of years for medicinal purposes.
Possible health benefits include relieving nausea, loss of appetite, motion sickness, and pain.
The root or underground stem (rhizome) of the ginger plant can be consumed fresh, powdered, dried as a spice, in oil form, or as juice. Ginger is part of the Zingiberaceae family, alongside cardamom and turmeric. It is commonly produced in India, Jamaica, Fiji, Indonesia, and Australia.
It is available fresh and dried, as ginger extract and ginger oil, and in tinctures, capsules, and lozenges. Foods that contain ginger include gingerbread, cookies, ginger snaps, ginger ale, and a wide variety of savory recipes.
Fast facts on ginger:
Here are some key points about ginger. More detail is in the main article.
- Ginger has long been used for culinary and medicinal purpose.
- Possible health benefits include reducing nausea, pain, and inflammation.
- Ginger can be used to make tea, chopped or crushed in curries and savory dishes, and dried or crystalized in sweets and confectionary.
Root or powdered ginger adds flavor to many dishes, and it can benefit health too.
Consuming fruits and vegetables of all kinds has long been associated with a reduced risk of many lifestyle-related health conditions.
However, some herbs and spices may offer additional health benefits. One of these is ginger.
Scientific analysis shows that ginger contains hundreds of compounds and metabolites, some of which may contribute to health and healing. Of these, the gingerols and shogaols have been most extensively researched.
The phenolic compounds in ginger are known to help relieve gastrointestinal (GI) irritation, stimulate saliva and bile production, and suppress gastric contractions as food and fluids move through the GI tract.
At the same time, ginger also appears to have beneficial effects on the enzymes trypsin and pancreatic lipase, and to increase motility through the digestive tract. This suggests ginger could help prevent colon cancer and constipation.
Chewing raw ginger or drinking ginger tea is a common home remedy for nausea during cancertreatment.
Taking ginger for motion sickness seems to reduce feelings of nausea, but it does not appear to prevent vomiting.
Ginger is safe to use during pregnancy, to relieve nausea. It is available in the form of ginger lozenges or candies.
3. Cold and flu relief
During cold weather, drinking ginger tea is good way to keep warm. It is diaphoretic, which means that it promotes sweating, working to warm the body from within.
To make ginger tea at home, slice 20 to 40 grams (g) of fresh ginger and steep it in a cup of hot water. Adding a slice of lemon or a drop of honey adds flavor and additional benefits, including vitamin C and antibacterial properties.
This makes a soothing natural remedy for a cold or flu.
Recipe tips for ginger
Here are some tasty ways to use ginger:
- Add fresh ginger to a smoothie or juice
- Add fresh or dried ginger to a stir-fry or homemade salad dressing
- Make ginger tea by steep peeled fresh ginger in boiling water
- Use fresh or dried ginger to spice up any fish recipe