Filling Your Plate with Ginger

By Sarah LeVesque, Recent ASU Nutrition Student

As a common addition to juices and smoothies, ginger has been on a rise in popularity. My mother used to tell me that artists in the Philippines would eat ginger to help them sing better. I couldn’t help but wonder how that was possible. I just knew she would always put it in a traditional Filipino dish that my brothers and I would eat at least once a month when we were growing up. Every time I would bite into the lightly crunchy, surprising piece of ginger, it felt like my taste buds would quiver due to the flavor that it held inside no matter how long she cooked the pieces for. I learned to love ginger over time.

  • Ginger is a nutritionally important root.

Ginger is a good source of vitamin C, magnesium, potassium, copper, and manganese. New research has suggested that ginger can help lower blood sugar levels. Ginger consumption in type 2 diabetes patients has also shown to improve heart disease risk factors. This low calorie, small but mighty addition to our diets can do so many things. Hopefully, researchers will be able to apply the benefits of the components in ginger to develop medicines across the board. This versatile root has the potential to change the way we look at food.

  • Treating Nausea and Indigestion with Ginger.

Ginger is available fresh, dried, powdered, as an oil, or even as a juice. Just like garlic, ginger has been known for its medicinal properties. It is an old wives tale that promotes the consumption of ginger to ease morning sickness. It has been studied in its usefulness to reduce nausea and vomiting in seasickness, morning sickness, and chemotherapy-induced nausea. Ginger hasn’t shown adverse effects, but it’s always important to talk with your health care provider before consuming substantial amounts of anything!

As ginger helps with the stomach illnesses, it’s believed to help speed up the process of emptying the stomach which in turn, reduces chronic indigestion or acid reflux. Used in Chinese medicine, studies have yet to be done to observe the effect in acid reflux, but its effectiveness can be attributed to its anti-inflammatory properties. Yet again, too much of anything good can be bad. So eating too much ginger can actually cause indigestion or acid reflux. It is best to keep consumption moderate (under 4 grams of ginger) and in real food form, staying away from powders and sticking to the fresh root available in the produce section of most grocery stores.

  • Ginger for Dysmenorrhea, Muscle Pain, Soreness, and Joint Stiffness.

Ginger isn’t just helpful during times of upset stomachs. It also demonstrated its effectiveness in reducing exercise-induced muscle pain. That’s right! Eating ginger after an intense leg day or workout can help reduce the “good sore” that you might feel the day(s) after a workout. The effects of ginger aren’t immediate but helps in reducing the muscle pain during your recovery. This -herbal medicine’s anti-inflammatory effects have been proven time and time again. Ginger rivals the properties of a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug.

Because it acts as an anti-inflammatory, studies were done to see how it can positively impact osteoarthritis. One study showed that those who consumed ginger extract didn’t need to take pain management medicines and felt less pain. For someone who is suffering from joint pain or muscle soreness might not want to constantly take medicines to mask their pain.

Consuming ginger during that time of the month. Another anti-inflammatory use for ginger would be for those who suffer from cramps. A study was done on a group of 150 women who took 1 gram of ginger a day during the first 3 days of their period. Ginger has been shown to reduce the pain as effectively as ibuprofen.

  • Ginger helps your immune system in small doses and big ways.

Ginger should be included in the list of superfoods. Ginger has been proven helps treat degenerative disorders, digestion health, cardiovascular disorders, vomiting, diabetes mellitus, and cancer.  An active ingredient in fresh ginger called gingerol (easy enough to remember) can lower the risk of infections and bacteria and plays a key role in learning and memory. It’s being studied further for it potential benefits against cancer.

  • Ginger gives us more brain power.

Ginger’s bioactive phytochemicals might benefit our bodies more than we think. Recent studies have shown promise for the treatment or prevention of degenerative brain diseases like Alzheimer’s. We can hope that a cure or preventative measure can be developed from such natural and ingredients. Ginger has shown to improve cognitive function and memory and protect against brain damage. It enhances attention and cognitive abilities in healthy, middle-aged women.

Being smart enough to add fresh ginger to your diet can provide benefits both cognitively and physically, and has been proven to help our brains and bodies work to their fullest potential, naturally.

We’ve been told we are what we eat. Diving into the health benefits from foods like ginger or garlic prove that eating a well-balanced diet with variety can benefit more than our waistlines; it could mean a longer life. Ginger can be as beneficial as your ibuprofen, cholesterol medicine, your anti-acid medicines, and can help boost your body’s natural defenses in your immune system and brain function. As always, before making the switch from any medications, it’s best to talk with your doctor.

Today more than ever it’s been easier to incorporate fresh ginger into your diet. With a rise in popularity of juicing or smoothies, it is common to see ginger on the list. It’s easy to add to your favorite smoothie at home! Just add a grated or chopped ½ inch to 1-inch piece into the mix, and blend. It makes green drinks a little less green and is available in shots in some juicing restaurants.

Next time you’re in the stores, stop by and check out the ginger in the produce section. When picking out fresh ginger root in the stores, it should be firm and smooth. To keep the ginger at its best, store it in your fridge. My mother taught me the easiest way to peel the skin off the ginger: with a spoon!

If you liked this article then you will love the Fill Your Plate blog. New articles are posted every week. Looking for fun recipes for the family? Check out the Fill Your Plate recipe section.


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