Ginger, also known as Zingiber officinale, is a pretty incredible spice that not only delivers beautiful flavor, but marvelous health benefits as well.
It’s not the prettiest root, but it sure does get the job done! Keep reading to find out why this root is one of our favorites, and how it can help you in your day-to-day preventative routine.
What is it?
Ginger belongs to the Zingiberaceae family, and is closely related to spices like turmeric and cardomon. It’s fairly customary to find many of these ingredients together, whether in food or in medicine.
Native to South-east Asia, India and China, ginger is an integral component of the region’s diet, but has been hugely popular in the Western world for it’s medicinal properties. Other ginger-producing countries include Nepal, Australia, Nigeria and Fiji. But, what if I told you that you can grow ginger in your own backyard? Ok, maybe not everyone can, but it’s actually possible in places like Southern Texas and Louisiana, Florida, Southern and coastal California, Central Valley, Southern Arizona, and Hawaii!*
Ginger contains gingerol, a substance with powerful medicinal properties. The rhizome (underground part of the stem) is the part commonly used as a spice. This spice can be ingested in powder form, liquid (juiced from the root), or eaten fresh from the root itself (raw or cooked).
Not only does ginger contain gingerol, but it also contains compounds called shogaols, which give the root its pungent taste. It’s spicy, to say the least!
We’ll dive deeper into the benefits, Quality Control, and any contraindications below. Keep reading to learn more!
If you’re curious about how healthy ginger can be on a nutritional level, take a look at these nutritional benefits!
10g serving of fresh ginger provides*:
- 4 kcals
- 2g protein
- 1g fat
- 8g carbohydrate
- 2g fibre
- 42mg potassium
Ginger has a plethora of medicinal benefits, including but not limited to the following:
- Protects against disease: Because ginger is high in antioxidants, it can help reduce various types of oxidative stress. Oxidative stress happens when too many free radicals build up in the body. Free radicals are toxic substances produced by your metabolism or other factors. Dietary antioxidants like ginger help the body get rid of free radicals.
- Relieves indigestion: This means improving digestion as a whole and reducing your chance of gas!
- Relieves nausea: ginger’s compounds may increase digestive responsiveness and speed stomach emptying, which may reduce nausea. It could also be the due to the anti-inflammatory properties, which may improve digestion and support the release of blood-pressure-regulating hormones to calm your body, which reduces nausea.
- Helps ease cold/flu symptoms: Have you ever had ginger + honey tea while you had a cold? The spice with the addition of honey help to soothe and coat the throat!
- Relieves pain and reduces inflammation: Ginger is great for those with arthritis or chronic joint pain. It contains anti-inflammatory compounds that function in the same way as COX-2 inhibitors, which are drugs used to treat pain and inflammation. Ginger is your healthy, natural alternative!
- Supports cardiovascular health: Ginger helps reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke by inhibiting the action of several of the genes involved in the inflammation process. The University of Maryland Medical Center cites a number of studies that suggest ginger may lower cholesterol and prevent blood from clotting. This blood-thinning or anti-coagulant effect is important for people with heart disease, and it comes directly from the gingerol compound of Ginger.
So what do you do if you don’t like the spicy taste of ginger? You wouldn’t be alone in feeling this way. Although I love the spice from Ginger, I understand it can be quite potent for some. You can enjoy ginger in many ways/forms and still get the same benefits!
That doesn’t mean you can’t get all the benefits of this superfood. At NutraChamps, we have tried and tested many different Ginger supplements, but none seem to add up to what many of our team would consider our favorite Gummy Supplement. Our Turmeric & Ginger Gummies provide 12mg of Ginger Root Extract as well as 270mg Turmeric Root Extract.
Gingerol, the main bioactive compound in ginger has both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Turmeric and ginger have been paired for ages, making ginger the perfect addition to our Turmeric Curcumin Gummies.
Designed for men, women and kids, NutraChamps Turmeric Curcumin Gummies are a deliciously great choice for healthy joints, anti-inflammatory support, brain and heart health, immune function and overall wellness. Loaded with 95% standardized turmeric curcumin extract, our gummies deliver virtually the same powerful benefits you can expect from a high quality curcumin capsule product.
What to look for
Although a lot of Ginger looks similar, you’ll want buy a specific kind to get all the nutritients you possibly can.
Ginger is commonly consumed in foods, as a supplement (powder, liquid, gummy, syrups), or in tea. Ginger has most often been used by adults in doses of 0.5-3 grams by mouth daily for up to 12 weeks. Ginger is also available in topical gels, ointments, and aromatherapy essential oils to be applied to the skin or in an air diffuser.
Always speak with a healthcare provider to find out what type of product and dose might be best for a specific condition or for you! Everyone will react differently to this spice and it’s best to be safe than sorry!
When picking out fresh ginger from the store, there are a few things to keep in mind:
- Look for ginger with shiny, taut skin. The skin should be thin. You should be able to easily nick the skin with your nail and get right to the fleshy part on the inside.
- Take a whiff. Is it pungent and spicy? It should be!
- Make sure the root has no soft spots
- Store it properly! If you use ginger frequently (2-3 times a week), store it in a resealable bag (with all the air removed) in the crisper drawer of your fridge. If ginger doesn’t show up as often in your cooking, store it in the freezer and grate it whenever you need it. I got this great tip from this source.
Like any other medicine, there are a few contraindications to look out for. These include:
- Anticoagulant drugs
- Antiplatelet drugs and herbs
- NSAID (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs)
The two things to be aware of:
First: If you have a bleeding disorder, using ginger in large amounts may prolong bleeding time and increase your risk of bruising. Use ginger with caution and always ask your doctor if what you’re taking is going to be safe considering your condition.
Second: When using ginger in large amounts, you may slow blood clotting. If you’re coming out of surgery (even during), you will need to consider taking a break from ginger. Stop using it at least 2 weeks before your scheduled surgery.
I personally love using ginger, because I enjoy the taste! It adds spice, but also a slight sweetness to your meal, smoothie, tea, or salad dressing.
It’s been a great addition to my daily supplement routine, but I find myself using it more often in very specific situations, such as when I’m in a car or plane for a while (motion sickness), when I go for a long run (I use it to ease my stomach by blending it with maple syrup, salt, and water), and lastly, I swear by Ginger mixed with turmeric when I feel the slightest twinge of a cold or flu coming on. I tend to automatically do this as the temperature changes (whether it’s getting cooler or warmer), since I know this is when I tend to have a lower immune system.
Have you added Ginger to your daily routine yet? Is it something you swear by as much as I do? If not, what’s holding you back? Let me know in the comments!