Ginger, normally used in Asian and Indian cuisine, indeed offers a unique taste – hot, zesty, sweet, and biting. Strong in taste, ginger has an equally strong history when it comes to medicine, used for thousands of years to help cure certain diseases. Branded as a ‘superfood,’ the health benefits of ginger are rather extensive, from acting up as simple flu relief to containing anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce cancer risk. It is loaded with nutrients and bioactive compounds with powerful benefits for both the body and brain. This makes ginger a must-have in every kitchen.
Health Benefits of Ginger
1. Acts as cold and flu relief
Ginger is quite famous for its ability to warm the body up. It is diaphoretic, which means that it induces perspiration. Combined with lemon, the potent ginger can help clear sinuses. Also, ginger and honey combined can work to soothe a scratchy throat. Drinking a hot ginger tea is a good way to keep warm especially during cold days.
2. Treats nausea
Different kinds of nausea are addressed by ginger. Ginger has a long history of use as a remedy for sea sickness. Chemotherapy or surgery related nausea can also be combated. Pregnancy-related nausea like morning sickness can also be helped. Although ginger is considered safe, it is advised to consult a physician first before taking large amounts of ginger.
3. Promotes better digestion
Ginger can help the stomach by staving off bloating and gas. Ginger speeds up stomach emptying, so food doesn’t just sit there after an indulgent meal, helping in the case of overeating or dyspepsia. Notably, it can also help relieve diarrhea through its zingerone (a key component of the pungency of ginger).
4. Helps manage osteoarthritis
Although there is an inadequate study for this, research shows that ginger improves the effect of osteoarthritis. Also, another research found that combining ginger with herbs and spices like mastic, cinnamon and sesame oil for topical use can help bring down pain and stiffness in osteoarthritis patients.
5. Lowers blood sugar
Having the ability to regulate insulin and keep the metabolism active, ginger may help reduce the risk of acquiring diabetes. There are studies saying ginger supplementation may reduce fasting blood sugar and promote healthy blood sugar level, thus eradicating possible risks of diabetes in the future. Nonetheless, as newly discovered, more research is still needed in this area.
6. Keeps the heart healthy
Ginger may decrease lipoproteins, a key risk factor for heart disease. The herb can lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and prevent blood from clotting as well according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. In a different study, on the other hand, ginger was able to reduce bad LDL cholesterol and raise beneficial HDL cholesterol in a significant manner as well.
7. Reduces menstrual pain
The use of ginger for menstrual cramps is popular in China. Due to its anti-inflammatory property, ginger tea is best used to treat menstrual cramps, even deemed more effective in reducing pain severity than placebo. This is because of the presence of the active compounds gingerols and shagaols found in ginger.
8. May help prevent cancer
Ginger is loaded with numerous potent antioxidants, and scientists have found evidence that gingerols have cancer-fighting properties as well. According to a study conducted by the Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology in India, ginger can be more effective than chemotherapy in targeting the cancer stem cells. Specifically, gastrointestinal cancers are exacted to be prevented and treated. Cancer cell growth is also believed to be combated by the antioxidant content of ginger.
9. Helps fight infections
There are amazing anti-fungal and antimicrobial compounds found in ginger. Its potent antibiotic effects are exceptional, deeming it more powerful than other antibiotics. Ginger has been also been found to have an antibacterial effect on respiratory and mouth or teeth-related infections. Adding up ginger with hot water, lemon, and honey can make a powerful mix for consumption to fight off infection.
10. Can relieve sore muscles
Ginger’s anti-inflammatory properties can help relieve muscle pain caused by exercise as well. Some proponents even compare the pain-relieving properties of ginger to ibuprofen. Although a study found that ginger doesn’t have an immediate impact on muscle pain unlike some ibuprofens, the herb may be effective at reducing the day-to-day progression of muscle pain with a lasting effect.
11. Protects the liver
According to research, twelve weeks of consumption of two grams of ginger daily cut several liver enzymes significantly, thus protecting the liver from diseases like the non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. On the other hand, according to researchers from the King Khaled University, schistosomiasis (a parasite which damages the liver) may respond well to treatment with ginger extract as well.
12. Improves brain function
A study in Thailand has made proof that ginger “may help enhance memory and improve key indicators of cognitive function.” Participated by middle-aged women, a group with an increasing rate of memory decline, the study found that daily ginger intake could lead to significant improvements in working memory. Although there is a need for further research, ginger has over fifty antioxidants, all important for better brain function.