What Is Ginger? Why Is It Good For You? How Much Ginger Can You Take?

Ginger has been used for thousands of years as both a cooking ingredient and for medicinal purposes.

When used in cooking, it gives a spicy, slightly sweet, pepper-like flavor with a strong and spicy aroma, while it is also very effective in treating several ailments like nausea or colds.

Ginger, whose official name is zingiber officinale, first originated from South-East Asia and is characterized by its narrow leaves and purple flowers. However, it is the plant’s rhizome, or its root, that is the part that we use, and contains all the benefits.

It can be used fresh, grated, dried, in oil form, as well as be made into capsules or liquid extract.

ginger benefits
Photo Credit: Pixabay

Scroll down to see a guide for ginger, from its nutritional values, health benefits, beauty benefits, how you can use it, and how frequently you should use it:

Nutritional values of ginger

Ginger has hundreds of compounds which can be used for healing, out of which, researchers believe that gingerol compounds are behind some of the biggest of the root’s benefits.

According to Medical News Today, in 100 grams of fresh ginger root there are:

  • 79 calories
  • 17.86 g of carbohydrate
  • 3.6 g of dietary fiber
  • 3.57 g of protein
  • 0 g of sugar
  • 14 mg of sodium
  • 1.15 g of iron
  • 7.7 mg of vitamin C
  • 33 mg of potassium

Ginger also includes a number of other nutrients, like vitamin B6, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, folate, iron, and vitamin C.

What are the health benefits of ginger?

Ginger has been used in medicine for thousands of years, and its benefits have now been scientifically proven. It is considered to be generally safe for use when it is a part of a healthy diet, and some of the health benefits of ginger include:

Reducing nausea

Ginger’s benefits when it comes to fighting nausea have long been known, but mostly passed down by word of mouth – however, recent research published in 2016 has scientifically confirmed it. The study has found that ginger is an effective and safe remedy for gastrointestinal complaints, and can safely reduce nausea and vomiting for people going through chemotherapy.

Helping with flu and cold symptoms

You have probably been given ginger and lemon tea to drink when you got a bad case of the flu. That’s because ginger has strong anti-fungal and antimicrobial properties, both of which make it a powerful homemade remedy to fight off infections or colds and to reduce dry-coughing.

ginger benefits
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Reducing inflammation

The main ingredient in ginger is gingerol, which has strong anti-inflammatory properties. While inflammation is good if you get an injury since it helps protect you by activating your immune system, sometimes our body can overdo it, and too much inflammation has been linked to several diseases like fibromyalgia or celiac.

Better digestion

Ginger is also known for creating better digestion because of its phenolic compounds which help relieve gastrointestinal (GI) irritation, suppress gastric contractions, and help with saliva and bile production.

Relieves menstrual cramps

Yes, good old ginger can also help you with your period cramps. In fact, according to a study, it was shown to be just as effective as mefenamic acid and ibuprofen.

Cancer prevention

This is a new area of research which needs more studying, but a recent study revealed that ginger was helpful in reducing pro-inflammatory signaling molecules in the colon, and suggested that ginger may help protect against pancreatic cancer, breast cancer, and ovarian cancer.

Other benefits of ginger

Other than internal health benefits, ginger can also help with the health of our skin and hair. It actually contains about 2 percent of essential oil, which are then used in the beauty industry for soaps or fragrances.

But ginger may also be used as a capsule or a homemade mask to get healthier skin and hair. Some of the benefits of ginger in hair and skin-care include:

  • Anti-aging, due to its anti-oxidant properties
  • Acne and blemish treatment, thanks to its antiseptic and cleansing properties
  • Skin toning, thanks to its toning, aphrodisiac, and antioxidant properties
  • Treatment of hypopigmentation (white scars), again because of ginger’s toning and anti-oxidant properties
  • Hair growth and hair loss, as it increases circulation of blood to the skin (or scalp in this case)
  • Dry and brittle hair, because it contains a blend of vitamins and minerals, as well as phosphorus
  • Dandruff, due to ginger’s antiseptic properties

Ginger can also be used to help with weight loss as it accelerates your metabolism.

 

How can you add ginger to your diet?

ginger benefits
Photo Credit: Natural Chef Carolyn Nicholas on Unsplash

Ginger is very versatile when it comes to its use in the kitchen since it can be incorporated in both sweet and savory food. There are countless recipes which use ginger to give the meal a boost of flavor but in a nutshell, you can use ginger in these ways:

  • As a tea
  • To marinate meat
  • To make salad dressing
  • Soups
  • Smoothies
  • Cocktails
  • Desserts
  • In fish recipes
  • In stir-fries

You can use both dried and fresh ginger in recipes, and they can often be substituted for one-another. If you have fresh ginger, you can store it in the refrigerator in a tightly sealed plastic bag, and grate it before you use it. If you do not peel it, you can store ginger in the fridge for up to three weeks.

How much ginger can you take a day?

Ginger is recognized to be a generally safe food additive by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). If you are using it in your food, you are probably eating appropriate amounts and not over-doing it.

ginger benefits
Photo Credit: Pixabay

However, if it is used as an extract or in capsule form, then it is not suggested to take more than 3-4 grams a day for an adult, whereas children under the age of 2 aren’t recommended to use it at all.  Pregnant women should not consume more than 1 gram of ginger extract per day.

An excessive intake of ginger (especially as an extract) can cause heartburn, make symptoms of acid reflux worse, irritate the mouth, and cause diarrhea.

Who should avoid ginger?

Though it’s generally safe for most people, ginger is not advised to be used by:

Pregnant women, because even though it’s good for nausea, many people believe that in high doses, it increases the risk of miscarriage. Pregnant women should consult with their doctor beforehand if they want to use it as a remedy for morning sickness.

People suffering from blood disorders like Haemophilia, which prevents the body’s ability to clot. Ginger can help with blood circulation, but for people with Haemophilia that can be a bad thing, as it can thin the blood further and lead to excessive bleeding from a minor injury.

People who suffer from diabetes, gallstones, should also consult with a doctor before taking ginger. The medications people suffering from the aforementioned conditions take can have a negative effect when combined with ginger, as can any type of blood-thinning medication. Ginger should also not be taken in combination with aspirin.

 

So there you go. If you’ve been neglecting ginger for whatever reason, hopefully, this article will make you grab it on your next grocery trip, and have you searching the internet for delicious ginger recipes.

 


Disclaimer: The contents of this article: text, graphics, images, and other materials contained are strictly for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical diagnosis, advice, or treatment. Please always seek the advice of a qualified health provider with all the questions that you have related to, or about, a medical condition.