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Ginger is one of the most commonly consumed dietary spice used globally. Ginger is a member of a plant family that includes cardamom and turmeric and has been known to be used thousands of years in the management of certain illnesses. It is characterized by a strong and spicy aroma and can be used in different forms either fresh, powdered, dried, or made into capsules. Although India is considered to be the largest producer of Ginger, it is grown in many parts of the world and easy to access.

Ginger has little or no vitamins but is very rich in potassium and antioxidants. A 100g of raw ginger root contains;

  • 82 Calories
  • 8g of protein.
  • 8g of fat.
  • 7g of carbohydrate.
  • 2g of dietary fiber.
  • 415mg of potassium.
  • 13mg of sodium.
  • 0mg of vitamin C.

 

Benefits of ginger

1. Relieve menstrual cramps

Menstrual pain usually occurs during the days of menses and affects the quality of life of, especially young women. Several clinical trials have shown that ginger is as effective as Novafen and Ibuprofen in reducing menstrual cramps. Taking as low as 0.5g to 2g of ginger powder at the onset of menstrual flow can help reduce cramps and discomfort experienced in people with painful menstruation.

2. Ginger enhances immune function

The antioxidant property of this spice has been proven to help reduce oxidative stress which can compromise the immune system and predispose one to develop various diseases. Findings suggest that consuming ginger can help prevent kidney damage due to oxidative stress prompted by an inadequate blood supply to the heart muscles.

3. Reduces nausea and vomiting

Ginger can help reduce the urge to vomit experienced by pregnant women, or people with certain conditions. Most pregnant women reported feeling better after taking ginger anytime they have the urge to vomit. Also, a particular research study found that taking ginger 30 minutes before each dose of antiretroviral medication for about 2 weeks can help treat nausea and vomiting caused by the medication.

4. May enhance weight loss and improve metabolic health

Ginger can reduce your waist-hip ratio and body mass index and improve your lipid profile especially when taken as part of a healthy diet. A review of over 14 studies showed that supplementation with ginger significantly decreased body weight, waist-to-hip ratio hip ratio, fasting glucose, and insulin resistance index, and significantly increased HDL-cholesterol levels. Taking as low as 0.1g per kg body weight ginger can improve blood cholesterol levels.

5. Effective in the treatment of osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is a common health condition that is associated with aging. It is characterized by the rubbing of bones against each other at the joints due to the wearing off of the cartilage tissue usually resulting in chronic pain and disability. Several studies show that taking ginger can help reduce pain and stiffness of the joints.  A particular study found that supplementing ginger, turmeric extract, and black pepper, has the same effect on pain as Naproxen in patients with chronic knee osteoarthritis.

6. Ginger enhances gut health

Ginger is highly rich in antioxidants which help to protect the gut. It is mainly used as a home remedy and is of immense value in treating various gastric ailments like constipation, dyspepsia, belching, bloating, gastritis, epigastric discomfort, and gastric ulcerations. Ginger helps hasten the emptying of the stomach which can be of great benefit to people with chronic indigestion and stomach-related discomfort.

Ginger is also shown to be effective in preventing gastric ulcers induced by nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like indomethacin and aspirin.

7. Ginger may be useful in treating certain cancers

The main substance in ginger known as gingerol has been found to possess anticancer properties and may be useful in preventing and treating cancer. Although more research studies are needed, a few studies show ginger extract may help suppress certain cancer growth.

8. Effective in treating dementia and Alzheimer disease

Alzheimer’s disease is very common among the elderly and is characterized by a decline in brain function which is a result of oxidative stress and inflammation. Due to the high content of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties of ginger, it is very useful in reducing the effect of oxidative stress and preventing damage to brain cells. Some studies show that dried ginger may be effective in treating dementia experienced in people with Alzheimer’s disease.

How to incorporate ginger into your diet

Ginger can be incorporated in various ways into one’s diet. It can be used in the preparation of;

  • Soups
  • Sauces
  • Tea
  • Smoothie
  • Salad
  • Marinades

 Does ginger interact with medications?

If you are on certain blood thinners and NSAIDs, it is important to speak to your dietitian or doctor as these drugs have interaction with ginger. Taking ginger while on these medications may increase your risk of bleeding.

Summary

Ginger is one of the healthiest spices in the world. Incorporating this superfood into your diet will avail you of all the tremendous health benefits!

References

  1. An S, Liu G, Guo X, An Y, Wang R. Ginger extract enhances antioxidant ability and immunity of layers. Anim Nutr. 2019 Dec;5(4):407-409. doi: 10.1016/j.aninu.2019.05.003. Epub 2019 Jun 13. PMID: 31890918; PMCID: PMC6920395.
  2. Adib Rad H, Basirat Z, Bakouei F, Moghadamnia AA, Khafri S, Farhadi Kotenaei Z, Nikpour M, Kazemi S. Effect of Ginger and Novafen on menstrual pain: A cross-over trial. Taiwan J Obstet Gynecol. 2018 Dec;57(6):806-809. doi: 10.1016/j.tjog.2018.10.006. PMID: 30545531.
  3. Ozgoli G, Goli M, Moattar F. Comparison of effects of ginger, mefenamic acid, and ibuprofen on pain in women with primary dysmenorrhea. J Altern Complement Med. 2009 Feb;15(2):129-32. doi: 10.1089/acm.2008.0311. PMID: 19216660.
  4. Heidari-Beni M, Moravejolahkami AR, Gorgian P, Askari G, Tarrahi MJ, Bahreini-Esfahani N. Herbal formulation “turmeric extract, black pepper, and ginger” versus Naproxen for chronic knee osteoarthritis: A randomized, double-blind, controlled clinical trial. Phytother Res. 2020 Aug;34(8):2067-2073. doi: 10.1002/ptr.6671. Epub 2020 Mar 16. PMID: 32180294.
  5. Bartels EM, Folmer VN, Bliddal H, Altman RD, Juhl C, Tarp S, Zhang W, Christensen R. Efficacy and safety of ginger in osteoarthritis patients: a meta-analysis of randomized placebo-controlled trials. Osteoarthritis Cartilage. 2015 Jan;23(1):13-21. doi: 10.1016/j.joca.2014.09.024. Epub 2014 Oct 7. PMID: 25300574.
  6. Araya-Quintanilla F, Gutierrez-Espinoza H, Munoz-Yanez MJ, Sanchez-Montoya U, Lopez-Jeldes J. Effectiveness of Ginger on Pain and Function in Knee Osteoarthritis: A PRISMA Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Pain Physician. 2020 Mar;23(2):E151-E161. PMID: 32214292.
  7. Haniadka R, Saldanha E, Sunita V, Palatty PL, Fayad R, Baliga MS. A review of the gastroprotective effects of ginger (Zingiber officinale Roscoe). Food Funct. 2013 Jun;4(6):845-55. doi: 10.1039/c3fo30337c. Epub 2013 Apr 24. PMID: 23612703.
  8. Wang S, Zhang C, Yang G, Yang Y. Biological properties of 6-gingerol: a brief review. Nat Prod Commun. 2014 Jul;9(7):1027-30. PMID: 25230520.
  9. Choi JG, Kim SY, Jeong M, Oh MS. Pharmacotherapeutic potential of ginger and its compounds in age-related neurological disorders. Pharmacol Ther. 2018 Feb;182:56-69. doi: 10.1016/j.pharmthera.2017.08.010. Epub 2017 Aug 24. PMID: 28842272.
  10. Mahomoodally MF, Aumeeruddy MZ, Rengasamy KRR, Roshan S, Hammad S, Pandohee J, Hu X, Zengin G. Ginger and its active compounds in cancer therapy: From folk uses to nano-therapeutic applications. Semin Cancer Biol. 2021 Feb;69:140-149. doi: 10.1016/j.semcancer.2019.08.009. Epub 2019 Aug 11. PMID: 31412298.
  11. Mohd Sahardi NFN, Makpol S. Ginger (Zingiber officinaleRoscoe) in the Prevention of Ageing and Degenerative Diseases: Review of Current Evidence. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2019 Aug 20;2019:5054395. doi: 10.1155/2019/5054395. PMID: 31531114; PMCID: PMC6721508.
  12. Talebi M, İlgün S, Ebrahimi V, Talebi M, Farkhondeh T, Ebrahimi H, Samarghandian S. Zingiber officinale ameliorates Alzheimer’s disease and Cognitive Impairments: Lessons from preclinical studies. Biomed Pharmacother. 2021 Jan;133:111088. doi: 10.1016/j.biopha.2020.111088. Epub 2020 Dec 15. PMID: 33378982.

 

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