The Nutritional and Health Benefits of Integrating Ginger into Your Diet

Ginger is a member of the Zingiberaceae family which includes other plants like galangal, turmeric, and cardamom. This healthy and aromatic spice originated in Southeast Asia. The rhizome (the horizontal stem from which the roots grow) is the main portion of ginger that is often used as medicine, flavoring, spice, and food. When consumed fresh, it is slightly peppery and sweet with a spicy aroma. 

Ginger is one of the most commonly consumed dietary condiments in the world. For centuries, it has been used to treat numerous ailments, such as hypertension, arthritis, migraines, colds, and nausea. Ginger is consumed in numerous forms, including fresh, powdered, dried, ground candied, pickled, or crystallized. Whatever form you choose to infuse it into your plant-based diet, this spice offers various impressive health benefits. In this article, we discuss the positive effects of ginger on your nutrition and health.

Health and Nutritional Benefits of Ginger

The strong spicy aroma of ginger comes from the ketones present in it, especially the gingerols. The oleoresin (oily resin) from the roots of the spice contains many bioactive components. It is the primary pungent ingredient believed to have pharmacological and physiological benefits. Ginger root contains a high level of antioxidants known to suppress oxidative stress and reduce inflammation. 

1 tablespoon of fresh ginger contains:

  • 4.8 calories
  • 1.07 grams (g) of carbohydrate
  • 12 g of dietary fiber
  • 11 g of protein
  • 05 g fat
  • 1 g of sugar

Some of the vitamins and minerals that can be found in ginger in trace amounts are:

  • Magnesium
  • Phosphorus
  • Riboflavin
  • Niacin
  • Zinc
  • Vitamin B3 and B6
  • Iron
  • Potassium
  • Vitamin C
  • Folate

Below are some other health benefits of ginger:

Helps Fights Nausea

One of the most dated uses of ginger is suppressing vomiting and symptoms of nausea. Ginger is very effective in relieving pregnancy-related nausea and motion sickness. The gingerol and shogaol which give the spice its pungent taste help increase digestive responsiveness. This compound also helps to relieve the symptoms of nausea. Ginger also supports the secretion of hormones that regulate blood pressure. Which makes it helpful when dealing with various types of nausea, including nausea after surgery, and chemotherapy-related nausea.

May Have Anticarcinogenic Effects

Chronic inflammation plays a major role in the development of cancer. Ginger contains active phenolic compounds such as gingerol, shogaol, and paradol that have anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, and antioxidant properties. The antioxidants found in the spice help eliminate free radicals, thereby preventing oxidative stress.

One study found that ginger extracts, gingerols and zerumbone are potent inhibitors for pro-inflammatory cytokines and inhibit the growth of tumor cells. The study concludes that ginger extract may have a chemotherapeutic effect in the treatment of liver cancer. 

Helps Manage Osteoarthritis

Thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties. ginger root is known to be one of the best natural treatments for osteoarthritis. Its anti-inflammatory compounds work in the same manner as COX-2 inhibitors, which are drugs used to treat inflammation and chronic pain. One study found that ginger extract was as effective as ibuprofen. Another study also found ginger to be significantly helpful in reducing inflammation and pain after knee surgery. To use ginger to treat joint pain, consume it in raw form or apply ginger extracts directly to the affected area(s). 

Helps Regulate Blood Sugar 

Although the research on ginger having powerful anti-diabetic properties is rather new, larger studies have linked daily intake of ginger powder to reduced fasting blood sugar in type 2 diabetes patients. According to a recent study, ginger obstructs enzymes that affect insulin sensitivity, thus improving the absorption of glucose in the muscles. Also, due to its lipid-lowering effects, ginger could help reduce the risk of diabetes.

Improves digestion

Indigestion or dyspepsia is largely caused by delayed emptying of the stomach and the symptoms are usually pain and discomfort in the upper part of the stomach. Ginger contains phenolic compounds that can help reduce gastric contractions and relieve gastrointestinal irritation. It also helps prevent constipation by facilitating movement through the digestive tract.

Also, the anti-inflammatory properties of ginger have been shown to help treat acid reflux. This means it can reduce the flow of acid from your stomach to your esophagus. To use ginger to ease an upset stomach, you can consume it raw after peeling, infuse in ginger tea, or use it to prepare a meal.

Relieves Menstrual Pain Symptoms

Ginger is an effective home remedy for menstrual cramps. According to research, many of the anti-inflammatory compounds in ginger inhibits the body's production of prostaglandins (a class of pro-inflammatory chemicals that triggers muscles in the uterus to contract during menstruation), thus significantly reducing menstrual pain. To use ginger to relieve menstrual pain, boil a piece of grated ginger in water for a few minutes, strain and add honey, and drink.

Bottom Line

Ginger has diverse pharmacological properties. Its benefits include improving digestive health, relieving pain, reducing inflammation, and regulating blood sugar. Although high doses of ginger extracts are often used in the studies used to prove these health gains, you can still benefit from adding ginger to your daily diet.