Ginger is certainly one of the cardinal spices in the Indian kitchen. The uses and health benefits of ginger are multifarious. This healthiest spice can be used fresh, dried, powdered or in juice. Plenty of medical literature emphasized various ginger benefits and how this aromatic spice is effective against various ailments.
Here, we are going to examine some of the health benefits of eating ginger, exploring its rich nutrient profile, its impact on skin health, and the overall advantages it offers. Brace yourself as we uncover the extraordinary benefits that ginger brings to the table, revolutionising your well-being and proving why it deserves a special place in your kitchen and your life.
Ginger is a flowering plant that originated in Southeast Asia and is now cultivated by growers worldwide. It belongs to the Zingiberaceae family and is closely related to turmeric. Its scientific name, Zingiber officinale, is believed to have derived from the Sanskrit name ‘singabera’.
Growing up to 3 feet in height, ginger produces greenish-purple clustered flowers. The part of ginger that is used for its healing properties or as a spice is the root (rhizome). The colour of the root can vary, ranging from yellow and red to white, depending on the variety. Harvesting involves pulling the entire plant out of the soil, removing the leaves, and cleaning the root.
Ginger can be consumed dried, fresh, and stored as a spice, or processed into capsules, tablets, and liquid extracts. The root contains an essential oil, which is utilised in the cosmetic industry for its fragrance in soaps and beauty products.
Ginger Nutritional Value
Let’s take a look at the nutrients of ginger.
100 grams of ginger contains:
- Calories: 80
- Fat: 0.8 g
- Cholesterol: 0 mg
- Sodium: 13mg
- Potassium: 415 mg
- Carbohydrate: 18mg
- Dietary fiber: 2 g
- Sugar: 1.7 g
- Protein: 1.8 g
- Vitamin C: 8% of daily values
- Vitamin B6: 10% of daily values
- Iron: 3% of daily values
- Magnesium: 10% of daily values
- Calcium: 1% of daily values
The aforementioned ginger nutrition gave you an adequate idea about the benefits of eating ginger.
Even though ginger boasts a significant antioxidant content, it is relatively low in minerals, vitamins, and calories.
According to the USDA, 2 tablespoons of ginger have only 4 calories. There is no substantial quantity of any nutrient in this portion.
The majority of ginger studies have focused on dosages ranging from 250 mg to 1 g, taken one to four times a day.
Ginger root is considered generally safe by the FDA, with an average daily consumption of not less than 4 g.
Healthstory Link: Top 10 Health Benefits of Ginger – Healthstory (livlong.com)
12 Top Benefits of Eating Ginger
1. Ginger for Weight Loss
While diet and physical activity are considered the primary factors for achieving and sustaining a healthy weight, there is some evidence indicating that ginger supplements might assist in promoting weight loss for certain individuals.
Ginger is blessed with components like gingerols and shoagaols that are responsible for various biological activities. Many medical studies have proved that obesity causes oxidative stress and inflammation. Free radicals in the body produce oxidative stress. Due to its antioxidant properties, ginger removes free radicals and reduces inflammation. A small study has revealed that obese people who consumed ginger stayed fuller for longer. Gingerols have an anti-obesity effect and improve your digestion.
A study was performed on 80 obese women and it has been revealed that ginger reduced body mass index (BMI) and blood insulin levels.
2. Ginger Water Benefits for Skin
Ginger water is the utmost way that will help you to overcome all your skin problems. It is loaded with gingerols antioxidants which can extirpate free radicals from your body. Thus, it improves the tone of your skin and makes your skin lustrous. Ginger water is also beneficial in tightening the skin and preventing the signs of aging.
3. Effective Against Nausea (Morning Sickness)
Ginger is beneficial in combating nausea and vomiting for people who have undergone some surgeries.
Ginger is very effective against pregnancy-related nausea, called morning sickness. 12 studies have been performed on 1278 pregnant women who consumed 1.1-1.5 grams of ginger. It has been revealed that women who have taken ginger reduced the symptoms of nausea. Though ginger is safe during pregnancy, consult a doctor before consuming it during pregnancy.
Additionally, ginger has shown potential for alleviating nausea associated with chemotherapy treatment.
However, ginger should be used with caution during pregnancy, especially for individuals nearing labour or those who have a history of pregnancy loss or vaginal bleeding. Additionally, individuals with clotting disorders should be cautious when considering the use of ginger.(6)
4. Help with Osteoarthritis (OA)
OA is a problem where your joints get degenerated. As a result, you may feel joint stiffness and pain.
A study was performed on people (diagnosed with OA) who have received between 500mg to 1 gram of ginger every day for 3 to 12 weeks. At the end of the study, significant reductions in pain and disability have been observed.
5. Minimize Blood Sugar Levels
For individuals with type 2 diabetes, incorporating ginger supplements into their regimen may offer a beneficial approach to enhancing blood sugar regulation and decreasing the likelihood of heart disease.
Ginger has some anti-diabetic properties
In 2015, a medical study was performed on 41 participants who have been diagnosed with type-2 diabetes. They consumed 2 grams of ginger powder per day. The results revealed that their blood sugar levels have been reduced by 12%. It also significantly improved HbA1C (reduced by 12% over 12 weeks). A 28% reduction in the Apolipoprotein B/Apolipoprotein A-I ratio was also observed.
Additionally, in a recent study conducted in 2022, it was reported that the use of ginger supplements resulted in a notable decrease in fasting blood sugar levels, haemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) levels (which are a marker of long-term blood sugar control), as well as both systolic and diastolic blood pressure readings in individuals with type 2 diabetes when compared with control groups.
6. Treat Chronic Indigestion
Indigestion occurs due to the delayed emptying of the stomach. Ginger improves the speed of the emptying of the stomach. In 2011, a medical study was performed on people with functional dyspepsia and they consumed either ginger capsules or a placebo. It took 12.3 minutes for people who consumed ginger in emptying their stomachs. Thus, ginger is effective against indigestion and stomach problems.
7. Reduce Menstrual Pain
Ginger is excellent in treating menstrual pain (dysmenorrhea). In 2009, nearly 150 women were given either ginger powder (250 mg) or NSAID drug (mefenamic acid 250 mg) or ibuprofen (400mg). Ginger lessened the pain as efficacious as both the drugs. But higher and better-designed studies are required to establish the claim.
8. Reduce the Levels of Bad Cholesterol (LDL)
Ginger is effective in reducing LDL (bad cholesterol).
In 2018, a medical study was performed on 60 people with hyperglycemia. They have taken 5 grams of ginger powder each day. At the end of the study, a significant reduction in LDL level (17.4%) was observed after 3 months.
Additionally, in a small 2008 study, 45 participants with high cholesterol were given 3 grams of ginger divided into three doses per day, while another 40 participants received a placebo. After 45 days, both groups experienced reductions in triglycerides, cholesterol, LDL (bad cholesterol), and VLDL. However, the ginger group showed a more significant reduction in these markers and an increase in HDL (good cholesterol) compared with the control group.
9. Anti-Cancer Properties
Ginger does not provide significant amounts of protein or other nutrients, but it is a rich source of antioxidants. Antioxidants play a crucial role in reducing oxidative stress. Oxidative stress occurs when there is an accumulation of harmful free radicals in the body. These free radicals are produced during metabolic processes and other factors.
The excessive build-up of free radicals can result in cellular damage, which may contribute to various health conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, heart attacks, chronic inflammation, and cancer. Dietary antioxidants aid in eliminating free radicals from the body, thereby mitigating the potential damage they can cause.(9,10)
Due to gingerol antioxidants, ginger is considered an alternative remedy for various types of cancer. Some studies have also proved that ginger is effective against pancreatic cancer, liver cancer, and gastrointestinal cancer.
10. Effective Against Alzheimer’s Disease
Some animal studies have revealed that antioxidants in ginger can inhibit the inflammatory responses in the brain. Some evidence has also suggested that ginger improves the brain’s functionality. Ginger also safeguards your brain’s function against age-related declination.
11. Fight Infections
Ginger extract is beneficial in averting the growth of certain types of bacteria. As per a study in 2008, ginger is effective against gingivitis and periodontitis bacteria.
Moreover, studies have shown that ginger extract, when used as a mouthwash, can prevent the growth of specific oral fungi, particularly those caused by Candida yeast. It is important to note that most Candida yeast in the mouth is harmless and does not cause symptoms.
Additionally, research has demonstrated that a 10% ginger extract has the potential to combat other bacteria commonly found in the oral cavity, such as S. mutans and E. faecalis. It is worth noting that E. faecalis can be found not only in the mouth but also in the gut and genital tract.
12. Reduce Cellular Damage and Inflammation
Ginger contains beneficial compounds such as shogaols, gingerols, and zingerone, which possess anti-inflammatory properties. These compounds work by inhibiting proinflammatory pathways in the body, such as the NF-κB signalling pathway, and reducing the levels of inflammatory proteins like TNF-α and IL-6.
Research has demonstrated the effectiveness of ginger supplements in reducing the markers of inflammation in the body, including IL-6, TNF-α, and hs-CRP. By supplementing with ginger, individuals may experience a reduction in the symptoms associated with inflammatory conditions such as arthritis.
A comprehensive review conducted in 2020, which analysed 109 randomised controlled trials, including 8 trials focusing on the anti-inflammatory effects of ginger, revealed positive outcomes. The review concluded that ginger supplements were effective in reducing pain and inflammatory markers in individuals with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Other benefits of eating Ginger
Ginger exhibits potential benefits in various areas, although further scientific research is needed to validate these claims. Additional clinical data, especially involving human subjects, is required to assess the impact of ginger on the following areas:
- Sperm count and motility: A study conducted on mice demonstrated that mice receiving a diet supplemented with ginger showed an increased quantity and quality of sperm compared with those receiving a placebo.
- Skin irritation: Research conducted on mice revealed that 6-shogaol, a ginger compound with anti-inflammatory properties, showed potential for treating and preventing skin irritation associated with allergies.
- Muscle recovery after strenuous exercise: In a study, participants who consumed 4 grams of ginger for 5 consecutive days before engaging in intense exercise experienced faster muscle recovery compared with those who received a placebo. However, it is important to note that the ginger did not have a preventive effect on muscle damage.
- Improve Immunity: Due to its antimicrobial and antifungal properties, ginger boosts your immunity. Ginger improves coughs, reduces fever, fights off infections, and alleviates other symptoms of cold and flu.
- Less menstrual bleeding: In a study involving high school girls with heavy menstrual bleeding, it was observed that those who were administered ginger experienced a notable decrease in blood loss compared with those who received a placebo. This suggests that ginger may be effective in reducing heavy menstrual bleeding.
Ginger is generally recognised as safe and has an excellent safety profile, according to the FDA.
Research suggests that a daily dose of ginger of 4 grams or less is considered safe. It is often recommended as an alternative to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) due to its potential to alleviate pain, nausea, and inflammation without the associated side effects.
However, it is important to note that ginger is not completely without risks. High doses of ginger, exceeding 4 grams per day for adults (and only 1 gram for pregnant women), can lead to side effects such as belching, heartburn, diarrhoea, and mouth irritation.
Is it Okay to Consume Ginger on a Daily Basis?
In short, while ginger is generally safe for daily consumption, it is important to consult with your healthcare provider, especially if you have specific medical conditions or are taking certain medications.
This is particularly important for individuals taking blood thinners, those with bleeding disorders, individuals on diabetes or blood pressure medications, and those scheduled for surgery.
Your healthcare provider can assess the potential risks and benefits of incorporating ginger into your daily routine and make any necessary adjustments to your treatment plan to ensure your safety.
Possible Drug Interactions
Ginger, like many other dietary supplements, has been found to interact with certain commonly prescribed medications. It is important to be aware of these potential interactions before incorporating ginger supplements into your routine. Here are some known interactions:
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
If you are taking anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen, using ginger alongside them may increase the risk of bleeding.
- Blood thinners
The research on this interaction is conflicting, but ginger has been suggested to have blood-thinning effects. This may potentially increase the risk of bleeding in individuals taking blood-thinning medications.
- Diabetes medications
If you are using medications to lower your blood sugar levels, it is advisable to consult your healthcare provider before taking ginger supplements. Ginger has been shown to lower blood sugar levels, and combining it with diabetes medications may lead to excessively low blood sugar levels.
- Immunosuppressive drugs
Ginger may affect the blood levels of certain immunosuppressive drugs like tacrolimus and cyclosporine. It could potentially increase or decrease the concentration of these medications in the blood, which may affect their effectiveness.(5,21)
Although ginger is considered safe, if you are already taking any drugs, you should consult your doctor before using it. They can advise you on whether introducing ginger supplements into your daily schedule is a good idea and keep an eye out for any potential interactions.
Different Ways to Include Ginger in the Diet
There are numerous ways to incorporate ginger into your diet, offering both sweet and savoury options. Fresh ginger root is recommended for its higher gingerol content. When purchasing, choose a smooth and firm root without shrivelling or mould. Peel the brown skin and chop or slice as desired.
Here are some ways to use ginger:
- Marinades for fish and meat
- Asian-inspired stir fry
- Homemade salad dressing
- Tea (alone or with lemon and sugar)
- Sweet potato and carrot dishes
- Baked desserts
Pickled ginger is commonly paired with sushi or used in ramen dishes, soups, and salads. If fresh ginger is unavailable, powdered ginger can be used as a substitute, though in smaller quantities. A quarter teaspoon of powdered ginger is roughly the same as one teaspoon of fresh ginger. It can also be used in baking recipes.
Remember, fresh ginger provides a different taste and aroma from powdered ginger. Experiment with different recipes and enjoy the versatile flavours that ginger adds to your meals.
The Bottom Line
Ginger is not just a common spice, but a powerhouse of health benefits. Its numerous advantages make it a valuable addition to your diet. Whether you’re looking to improve heart health, manage weight, or enhance digestion, ginger can be a beneficial ally.
With its rich nutrient profile and remarkable properties, ginger offers a wide range of benefits for your overall well-being. Additionally, ginger can even contribute to healthier skin, adding to its versatility. So, why not harness the advantages of ginger by incorporating it into your daily routine and experiencing its transformative effects firsthand? Embrace the advantages of ginger and unlock a world of health benefits for a better and more vibrant life.