If you haven’t yet learned about the amazing health benefits of ginger, now is the time. Ginger is a root vegetable that has an incredibly aromatic and spicy flavor that is used most often in Asian dishes. It is easy to find in your local grocery store; the flesh is usually yellow, white, or sometimes red, depending on its origin. The skin is typically brown and easily peeled off. Once you know how to use it in recipes, it becomes very simple and easy to use. Ginger comes from the root of the ginger plant and can be harvested when the plant is either young or mature.
There are so many health benefits of the ginger plant. In fact, many cultures have used it for centuries for medicinal purposes. Afflictions. Such as gastrointestinal issues, inflammatory problems, and much more. In herbal medicine, it is one of the most used items. It has many beneficial antioxidant effects both when you are sick and even as preventive medicine.
WHERE DOES GINGER COME FROM?
Ginger is a plant that is native to southeast Asia, and this is why it features prominently in the cuisine of this area. Throughout history, it has been used in ancient Chinese, Indian, and Middle Eastern medicine. These cultures knew right from the start both the delicious ways it could be used in the food and the healing properties that it possessed.
Ancient Romans were the ones who originally imported it to Europe, and eventually, it was the Spanish who took it to the Americas.
The ginger that you will find in your grocery store today is grown and harvested for export in counties such as Australia, Indonesia, India, and Fiji, just to name a few.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF GINGER
GINGER OFFERS RELIEF OF GASTROINTESTINAL ISSUES FOR ALL AGES AND REASONS
If you suffer from motion sickness, dizziness, or nausea of any kind, ginger is a fantastic natural form of relief. Almost more so than over the counter medicines. It works well for seasickness, car motion sickness, and air sickness. It can be given to children of any age, and it is safe as much as it is useful. Also, it can be used as relief from morning sickness in pregnant women. Only a small dose is required before seeing relief, and it is much safer than any of the anti-vomiting medications, which have at times been the cause of severe birth defects.
THE ANTI-INFLAMMATORY EFFECTS OF GINGER
Within the ginger plant, there are anti-inflammatory compounds that are incredibly potent. They are called gingerols. These fantastic little compounds can reduce pain and improve mobility in people who suffer from health issues such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. To be most effective, people with these afflictions are recommended to take ginger regularly. These issues are muscle-based, and the relief comes from the anti-inflammatory effects that the ginger provides.
It even works well if you have other health issues. The anti-inflammatory properties work on the muscles as well as the joints. Many people have knee problems as they age, but taking ginger can help. Swelling in the knee has been shown to decrease with the consumption of ginger.
So how does ginger do this? It’s actually quite simple. One of the reasons is because it can protect against free radicals. Free radicles occur in the body due to oxidative stress, which in turn causes disease. So, when ginger enters the body, it can work against this and give relief from many symptoms.
Inflammation occurs after illness or injury, it’s actually the body’s way of trying to heal. It can also happen in auto-immune disorders. People with these health problems have an overactive immune system and can end up with inflammation that is caused by their disease. When inflammation happens, the white blood cells wake up and become active. Ginger is effective at relieving the pain associated with inflammation as well as decreasing the amount of inflammation in the body.
GINGER’S ABILITY TO PROTECT AGAINST CANCER
Sadly, these days, it seems like cancer has become an epidemic. Everyone has either lost a loved one or had a brush with it themselves. This is due in part to our modern lifestyle and environmental issues, but there are things we can do to control it. Ginger has been proven to offer protection against colorectal cancer and ovarian cancer cells. The main component in the plant, which is also the one that is responsible for its strong smell and taste are the gingerols. Gingerols have been shown to inhibit the growth of cancer cells colorectal cancer and ovarian cancer in particular but can have similar effects in other types as well. It can inhibit the growth of the tumors and possibly even prevent them in the first place if you consume a lot of ginger throughout your lifetime. Basically, the ginger has been shown to kill off the cancer cells, which is what chemotherapy is for, but in this case, as ginger is a natural substance, there are no adverse side effects the way there is with chemo.
Another great advantage is that ginger alleviates nausea. Many chemo patients have massive amounts of nausea after treatment. Nausea happens when there is an increase of serotonin in the body. It occurs in the vagus nerve, which then activates the stomach and gut lining, which in turn causes nausea.
IMMUNE BOOSTERS WITH GINGER
One of the fantastic abilities of ginger is how it can warm you up. After consuming it, you literally feel warmer because it promotes sweating. This is fantastic for when you are suffering from any kind of cold or flu. When you begin to sweat, your body will both detoxify and begin to create germ-fighting agents that will help you to feel better and recover faster.
You also don’t need to take too much of it to start feeling its benefits. Using ginger in tea is one of the most popular ways to consume it for its health benefits. For nausea, in particular, merely steep a small piece of about an inch or two in hot water, and your stomach will begin to settle often after just a few sips. Using it to cook within recipes is a great way to keep a consistent amount of ginger in your body on a preventative basis, but the tea will give you a faster and more immediate effect for an acute issue.
HOW TO CHOOSE YOUR GINGER AND TIPS TO STORE IT
There is a difference between fresh and dried ginger. Fresh is by far a better choice, so if you have the option, always choose fresh. The fresh ginger will have higher levels of gingerol, which is, as we said above, the leading property that contains all the health benefits. This is where all the anti-inflammatory compounds are found.
Your ginger root will be found in the fresh produce area of your local grocery store, and it should be firm and smooth. It will either be young ginger or mature ginger. The differences between the two are typical that the mature ginger has a more hardened skin and requires a solid peeling. It might even feel more like tree bark. Whereas the young ginger will have a thin skin that is as easily peeled although it does not need to be. It can be consumed with the peel intact. If your local grocer doesn’t have any (which would be atypical as it is relatively common) then, any Asian grocery store will most definitely have it.
Ginger is also available as a dried spice in the form of ginger powder. Other formats are candied, pickled and crystallized ginger. All can be useful depending on what your recipe calls for.
Another great thing about ginger is that it is long-lasting. It can be stored in the fridge for up to three weeks as long as it has not been peeled yet. In the freezer, though, it can be kept for about six months. Dried, of course, is even longer. As long as it is in a sealed container, the dried ginger powder can last for a year or so just like any other spice. Store it in a dark pantry or even in the fridge, and you’re good to go!
COOKING WITH GINGER
Let’s assume that you have a fresh piece of ginger. All you need to do is remove the skin by peeling it and then chop, slice, mince, or whatever the recipe calls for. It will immediately begin to release a strong, aromatic smell and even more so if you heat it up in a skillet. Your food will taste different depending on how and when you add the ginger to the rest of the ingredients. If you are adding the ginger at the beginning of the recipe, it will have a more subtle flavor because it will have had more time to cook down. Adding it in towards the end will give your recipe a stronger, more pungent ginger taste.
STARTING TIPS FOR THE BEGINNER GINGER USER
- Golden milk (almond milk, turmeric, and ginger)
- Ginger lemonade (water, lemon juice, a sweetener like honey or agave and grated ginger
- Grated ginger and sesame seeds as a topping on Asian recipes and steamed vegetables.
- Salad dressing (ginger, soy sauce, olive oil, and garlic)
- Sweet potato puree (add orange juice and ginger)
Ginger is a fantastic way to help prevent future health issues and help manage the pain and discomfort of current ones. It tastes great and can be used in many ways in the kitchen. Just remember to reach for the fresh ginger unless there really is no other option. It will taste better, have stronger effects, and provide you with much more powerful health benefits than its dried counterpart. It can be stored for long periods, which makes it very cost-effective, and most importantly, it can work better than some medications. When you have the choice to choose a natural substance versus a man-made chemical one, the option should be a no-brainer.
So much of our modern world is filled with things we cannot control. Environmental factors that we don’t see hear, taste, or feel, yet they are doing great harm to our bodies. Using a fresh, organic vegetable that has proven its value for centuries over and over is clearly worth it. So, head out to the grocery store today, search up a few recipes on Pinterest and get to work in learning how you can best use ginger in your daily life. Your taste buds and your health will thank you.