Ginger, scientific name Zingiber officinale, is a plant of the Zingiberaceae family native to the Far East but nowadays widely known all over the world. The part of ginger that we use is the fleshy and fragrant rhizome, fresh, sliced or grated, in the dried form as a powder or even in the form of candied fruit. Ginger is a spice used to flavor sweet and savory dishes, but also to prepare healthy herbal teas. In fact, ginger is characterized by beneficial properties, which we are now going to see in detail.
Ginger, antioxidant action
Ginger is characterized by important healthy properties thanks to its antioxidant active substances, such as terpenes and phenolic compounds including gingerol. These are precisely the substances that give to the spice the ability to counteract free radicals, aging processes and inflammation. Not only that, ginger also has proved to be an anticancer food by inducing apoptosis, namely the programmed death, of diseased cells (Mashhadi et al, Int J Prev Med, 2013).
Ginger and joints
Ginger also acts as a painkiller and this feature, combined with the anti-inflammatory action, makes ginger useful in case of joint problems. In fact, scientific studies have observed the beneficial effect of ginger in case of osteoarthritis, showing an efficacy equal to anti-inflammatory drugs but without the same side effects (Altman et al, Arthritis Rheum, 2001).
Ginger, stomach and nausea
Ginger is also gastroprotective as it helps prevent ulcers. In fact, this spice stimulates the production of mucin, one of the main constituents of the gastric mucosa, with the aim to protect the stomach from the attack of gastric juices (Yamahara et al, J Ethnopharmacol, 1988). Ginger is also carminative, fights fermentation and is useful in case of nausea, even during pregnancy or caused by car or sea sickness (Schmid et al, J Travel Med, 1994). Finally, ginger protects the liver (Bodagh et al, Food ski Nutr, 2019).
Ginger, cholesterol and blood sugar
Ginger is useful both for high cholesterol and type 2 diabetes. In fact, ginger helps to reduce cholesterol by inhibiting its synthesis and also helps lower blood sugar levels. In the latter case the process has not yet been fully clarified but it is thought that the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of ginger can play a role in it (Zhu et al, Evid Based Complement Alternat Med, 2018).
Ginger and brain
Always thanks to the action of antioxidant compounds, ginger is neuroprotective. In particular, ginger juice has been able to reduce the values of LPO, or lipid peroxidation, which is considered an important marker for brain health since high values of LPO are observable in people suffering from Alzheimer's (Melissa et al, Arch Toxicol, 2016).
Ginger and cough
Ginger is also useful in cases of cough and asthma thanks to its antispasmodic and relaxing action on the airways (Townsend et al, Am J Respir Cell Mol Biol, 2013).
Ginger, how to take it
You can prepare a tasty and healthy ginger tea, useful for digestion and to counteract the heartburn, in case of cough and respiratory diseases, to protect the cardiovascular system and the well-being of the organism. Slice and peel two or three slices of fresh ginger, put them in infusion for 15 minutes in a cup full of boiling water, at the end of the 15 minutes filter and drink. Do not throw away the slices of ginger that you used for the herbal tea, you can indeed eat them, without exaggerating because they are very spicy. Alternatively, you can grate fresh ginger on vegetables or fish or use it to prepare desserts. For example, in the section Healthy Food you can find the recipe of cocoa and ginger bonbons, a really delicious snack! In case of nausea, candied ginger or a small piece of fresh natural ginger is useful.