Ginger is the root of a flowering plant that belongs to the zingiberaceae family, like turmeric or cardamom. It has a spicy flavor and aroma, with an intense citrus and fresh touch. Although it can be found almost anywhere, it is still a somewhat unknown food, but with many possibilities and benefits.
It is a plant widely used in traditional medicine for thousands of years. Originally from Southeast Asia, it is now common to find it anywhere in the world. In fact, the main producers are not only Asian countries (China, India, Nepal or Bangladesh), but also others such as Jamaica.
Ginger can be taken in many forms: fresh, dried, powdered? It is used mainly in gastronomy, but also in the world of cosmetics. This is because it has a large number of health benefits thanks, above all, to one of its most important components: gingerol. Gingerol is an essential oil that gives ginger its spicy flavor and is the active compound responsible for most of its medicinal properties. It also contains many other nutrients, as raw ginger is rich in minerals such as calcium, sodium, potassium or phosphorus and in certain vitamins, such as C, B2, B3 and B6.
Table of Contents
Main properties of ginger
These are the main properties of ginger that make it so popular in dishes and products all over the world.
Like drugs such as ibuprofen, gingerol inhibits the production of postaglandins, the substances that generate the inflammatory response in the body. Thanks to this, it can be useful to combat menstrual cramps or intestinal inflammation.
Ginger is very rich in antioxidants, molecules that slow down cell damage. For this reason, it is widely used in the cosmetics industry, as it helps slow down aging and reduces cell damage.
It favors the elimination of infectious microorganisms, such as E.coli bacteria, staphylococci or salmonella. In addition, it is also effective against bacteria that appear in the mouth and create diseases such as gingivitis or periodontitis.
4. Combats halitosis
Again, gingerol is the key, as it stimulates an enzyme contained in saliva that helps break down malodorous substances. This makes the breath smell better. You can get it by grating some ginger and adding it to water.
Gingerol has an analgesic effect, so it is useful to combat migraines and headaches. It also reduces the symptoms of certain diseases, such as osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis, which occurs when the cartilage that surrounds the bones of the joints wears away and causes stiffness and pain.
6. Helps with nausea and dizziness
Gingerol is a pungent substance that stimulates the flow of saliva and the secretion of gastric juices. It acts in the stomach and intestine against gas or nausea. Therefore, people who suffer from motion sickness, i.e. who get dizzy when traveling, can benefit from it. On the other hand, there is no consensus on its consumption to relieve nausea in pregnant women, so it is always recommended to consult a doctor first.
Platelets are the cells that prevent bleeding. They do this by creating a clot in the area that is bleeding, which blocks the passage of blood while the wound is being repaired. However, these clots can be dangerous if they are created inside a blood vessel, because they can prevent blood from passing to the rest of the body. Ginger slows this blood clotting process.
8. Promotes expectoration
It has properties that fight congestion and many of the symptoms of colds (cough, phlegm …).
9. Helps reduce blood sugar levels.
Recent studies suggest that it increases insulin levels and helps lower blood sugar levels. Although more research is needed to confirm this finding, it is very important that diabetics always consult with their doctor before consuming ginger frequently.
Although ginger has been shown to have a multitude of benefits for our body, sometimes its consumption can be counterproductive. Therefore, in the following cases it is best to consult a specialist:
– If you suffer from hypertension.
– If you are taking anticoagulant drugs.
– If you have gastritis, gastric ulcers, irritable colon or colitis.
– If you are diabetic.
– From the third month of pregnancy.
How to preserve ginger
How to preserve ginger? If it is fresh, it is best to store it unpeeled in the refrigerator wrapped with absorbent kitchen paper and placed in a hermetically sealed bag to remove all the air, it can last for months. If it is dry, it can be kept in a dark, humidity-free place and will be perfect for up to six months. It can also be frozen, but it is best to cut it into pieces and store it in a freezer bag. Its fresh and spicy flavor goes well with almost all kinds of dishes.
How to consume ginger
It is advisable to consume between one and two grams of ginger a day to take advantage of all its benefits and better fresh than powdered, as it contains more gingerol. These are the healthiest ways to incorporate it into our lives:
The most famous way to consume it is ginger tea. Just boil a few pieces in a pan of water for about fifteen minutes, let it steep and add a squeeze of lemon to taste. There are also many types of ginger infusion that are already sold ready to consume, in which its flavor is combined with citrus fruits, such as lemon, or with sweets, such as honey. Experts recommend one or two cups of ginger tea a day.
It can be a perfect finishing touch to a meat dish, either grated or powdered. For fish, the combination of ginger with lemon will bring an extra freshness and spiciness.
In salads and soups
It can also be added raw or grated to a salad, as an extra ingredient. Or use it to make a nice condiment (for example, a simple mixture of soy sauce, water and liquefied ginger will go great in a salad). Of course, it can also be used in soups. A very simple, yet nutritious and tasty recipe is a simple onion, carrot and ginger broth.
Stir-fry with vegetables
Almost any grilled vegetable can be sautéed with a little grated ginger and to give it a more oriental touch you can add some sesame seeds and a little soy sauce and sesame oil. It combines perfectly with broccoli and carrots.
They can also be taken in capsules, ideal for those who want to strengthen their immune system, reduce the feeling of dizziness and nausea, and contribute to the proper functioning of the intestine, it is also very useful in cases of fatigue. It may also be advisable for all those women who want to promote their digestive well-being during the first trimester of pregnancy, avoiding nausea and vomiting, in this case it must always be done under medical prescription and without consuming amounts greater than one gram per day. Whenever one decides to take capsules with ginger, it is recommended to carefully read the instructions for use that are enclosed in the packaging and follow the manufacturer’s instructions to take the appropriate daily dose.
Ginger and the skin
Finally, as mentioned above, ginger has antioxidant properties thanks to the gingerol it contains, which prevents the accelerated degradation of collagen and protects our skin from free radicals, making it take longer to age and to appear the dreaded wrinkles. So it is highly recommended to apply it on the skin as a mask or use gels, creams and shampoos containing ginger.