By Rashmi Cherian
Ginger is one of the most commonly used spices in Indian cooking. It’s versatile, easy to use & is full of nutrients & bioactive compounds that may contribute to health & healing. Ginger also known as Zingiber officinale, belongs to the same family as turmeric & cardamom. It has antimicrobial, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Active compounds in ginger include gingerol, shogaol, paradol, zingerone, zerumbone, 1-dehydro-(10)-gingerdione, terpenoids, and flavonoids. It is also a good natural source of vitamin C, magnesium, potassium, copper, and manganese.
Proven Health Benefits of Ginger
1. Eases nausea, especially morning sickness: Ginger is known to relieve nausea & vomiting in cancer patients & is most effective in pregnancy related morning sickness. Chewing raw ginger or ginger tea is a common home remedy to reduce nausea.
According to a review of 12 studies that included a total of 1,278 pregnant women, 1.1-1.5 grams of ginger can significantly reduce symptoms of nausea.
2. Reduces muscle pain & soreness: Ginger contains Gingerol, the main bioactive compound which has anti-inflammatory properties. Due to this property, ginger is effective against exercise induced muscle soreness. In one study, consuming 2 grams of ginger per day, for 11 days, significantly reduced muscle pain in people performing elbow exercises.
3. Helps with menstrual cramps: Ginger helps in reducing the symptoms of dysmenorrhea, the severe pain that some women experience during a menstrual cycle. Ginger is effective if consumed in the beginning of the menstrual cycle. A study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine showed that ginger was as effective at reducing menstrual pain as medications like ibuprofen and
mefanamic acid. Ginger works by reducing the levels of prostaglandins (high levels are considered to cause menstrual cramps) which in turn reduces cramps.
4. Relieves digestive problems: Ginger stimulates peristalsis. In the case of indigestion it helps in accelerating stomach emptying in the small intestine. In a study of 24 healthy individuals, taking 1.2 grams of ginger powder before a meal accelerated emptying of the stomach by 50%. Also ginger has beneficial effects on trypsin & pancreatic lipase enzymes which suggests that ginger can help in preventing colon cancer & constipation.
If you would like to know in detail about superfoods in India, you should definitely buy Rujuta Diwekar’s book ‘Indian Superfoods: Change the Way You Eat’.
5. Treats cold & flu: Ginger boosts immunity as the compound Gingerols also have anti-microbial & anti-fungal properties to fight infections. It is diaphoretic which means it induces sweating & keeps the body warm from within.
6. Helps in arthritis: Several researches have found that ginger helps in reducing joint pain & improved mobility in people with osteoarthritis & Rheumatoid arthritis.
7. Prevents Heart Disease & lowers high cholesterol levels: Ginger can help in reducing LDL cholesterol level, lowering the risk of blood clotting thereby reducing the risk of heart diseases. In a 45-day study of 85 individuals with high cholesterol, 3 grams of ginger powder caused significant reductions in most cholesterol markers.
8. Improves Brain function: Ginger can enhance brain function as the antioxidants present in it can inhibit inflammatory processes happening in brain. Along with other brain functions, ginger also improves memory. In a study of 60 middle-aged women, ginger extract was shown to improve reaction time and working memory.
9. Fights Cancer & Signs of Ageing: Ginger is packed with antioxidants, which fight free radical damage & help in protecting the body from cancer, especially from ovarian cancer. These antioxidants also help you look younger.
10. Prevents fungal & bacterial infections: Ginger has powerful anti-fungal & anti-bacterial properties, which help in killing off disease-causing fungi & bacteria. It is very effective against gingivitis & periodontitis. Ginger also helps cure respiratory infections caused by RSV virus.
GINGER RISKS & SIDE EFFECTS
Sometimes ginger can have side effects for gall stones patients. So in gall bladder conditions, always consult a doctor before consuming ginger.
It may aggravate acid reflux in some individuals.
Avoid consuming ginger at the same time as blood thinning medications as ginger can affect blood clots.
[A] Lemon Ginger Tea
1 inch fresh ginger piece
I tsp lemon juice
1 tbsp honey
1 tsp tea leaves
1 cup water
1. Grate ginger in a pan & pour 1 cup water.
2. Allow it to boil. Steep ginger for few minutes & then add tea leaves.
3. Meanwhile in a cup put lemon juice & honey. Strain ginger tea into the cup.
4. Stir to mix honey & lemon juice
[B] Cucumber Ginger Lime Juice
1 medium cucumber (peeled & chopped)
1 inch ginger piece (grated)
1. In a blender or food processor, blend together the ginger, cucumber and 1/2 cup cold water. Strain
and press the puree through a mesh sieve.
2. Add half a lime juice to the cucumber ginger juice.
3. Serve it chilled.
[C] Broccoli Ginger Salad
2 cups broccoli florets
1 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
6 almonds, coarsely chopped
1/2 tablespoon canola oil
1 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoons seasoned vinegar
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon skin
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
1/2 clove garlic, minced
1 ½ scallions, thinly sliced
1. Steam broccoli over boiling water until just tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Run broccoli under cold water to stop cooking and drain.
2. Heat medium skillet over medium heat. Add almonds and oil to hot pan. Cook, stirring frequently, until the nuts are just toasted, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat and cool.
3. Whisk together juice, vinegar, ginger, lemon skin, pepper and garlic in a medium sized bowl. Add the remaining oil to the liquid in a thin stream, whisking briskly.
4. Add broccoli and scallions to dressing and toss to coat. Sprinkle with toasted nuts.
Ginger is one of the super-foods that nature has offered us. Make ginger a regular spice for your meals & you will reap its benefits.
Editorial Note: For more informative insights on nutrition, check out our section on Nutrition Inspiration.
About the Author
Rashmi Cherian is a Registered Dietitian with a Master’s Degree in Food & Nutrition and a Certified Sports & Exercise Nutritionist. She has been awarded “National Health Award” 2017 for Sports Nutrition by Central Govt of India for her exemplary work in the field of Sports Nutrition. She has been providing nutritional counselling for almost a decade displaying a vast diversity of clientele seeking her expertise. A leading Sports Nutritionist, Rashmi works with a wide variety of professional and amateur athletes in swimming, tennis, badminton, triathlon, cycling, football, basketball, cricket, golf, go karting etc. She teaches them how to have more energy, lose undesired body fat, enjoy a winning sports diet—and feel confident about their food choices. She currently serves as the Official Sports Nutritionist for Birel Art (Italian Motorsport Org) and consults many other Sports Academies. As Rashmi’s love for helping others continued to grow, she decided to open WELLNESS VOWS Nutrition Clinic, which focuses on overall wellness, sports nutrition, weight imbalances, lifestyle disorders, auto immune diseases etc.
Rashmi has been a key note speaker at conferences, lectures, sports academies, schools and corporations across the country. She is also featured as a Sports Nutritionist on SWIM INDIA, biggest online portal for swimmers in India. She is also a regular nutrition expert for various media outlets, writer for various magazines & newspaper, featured on television & Radio.
Her 2 research papers have also published in 2 international journals – “Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry” and “Nutritional Neuroscience”. Rashmi’s nutrition philosophy is one that looks at the total person. She believes “If YOU take care of your body, it will take care of you.” Outside of her work, Rashmi loves cooking, is a fitness freak and a proud mother of a young boy.
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