Ginger is often used in recipes as an ingredient to add flavour and has long been a staple in Asian cuisine. This isn’t the only reason to use it; this spice also has some pretty powerful health benefits too!
Here are some of the roles it can play:
#1 It’s Anti Inflammatory and Antibiotic
Ginger has been used for many years as a herbal medicine, largely due to the fact that gingerol (the main bioactive compound) has been found to have anti inflammatory properties.
#2 It Can Lower Cholesterol
Studies have indicated that ginger has the potential for lowering “bad” LDL cholesterol levels, even in people with high cholesterol.
Research on rats has shown that ginger extract can lower LDL cholesterol and can even achieve the same effects as cholesterol medications.
Another study on individuals with high cholesterol found that taking 3g of ginger powder for 45 days led to impressive decreases in a range of cholesterol markers, including LDL cholesterol.
More research still needs to be done to confirm whether ginger has the potential to protect against heart disease.
#3 It Can Reduce Osteoarthritis Symptoms
Research has suggested that ginger can help to reduce the discomfort of osteoarthritis, a painful condition affecting the joints.
In one study, those who took ginger extract twice daily for 6 weeks experienced less pain in their knees on standing and felt comfortable taking lesser amounts of pain medication compared to the control group.
In another study by the University of Miami, osteoarthritis sufferers were weaned off anti inflammatory and painkilling medications and split into 2 groups. Over the 6 week study period, the group taking 255g of ginger two times per day noted more significant improvements in pain relief than the placebo group and found it easier to walk 50 feet.
#4 It May Improve Blood Sugar Levels in Diabetics
One small scale study conducted in type 2 diabetics in 2015 found that taking 2g of ginger powder per day led to a reduced fasting blood sugar of 12 per cent and HbA1c (a blood sugar marker) by 10 per cent over a period of 12 weeks. There were decreased risk factors for heart disease too.
The study group contained less than 50 people so the results are by no means conclusive but researchers have strong hopes it could signify that ginger has impressive health benefits for type 2 diabetics.
#5 It Can Help the Stomach to Empty More Quickly
Studies have shown that ginger can encourage the stomach to empty itself more quickly than it would otherwise, which can benefit people suffering from chronic indigestion.
In one study, eating ginger after having a bowl of soup led to the stomach emptying after 12 minutes, compared to the previous time of 16 minutes.
Another study showed similar results, with the stomach also demonstrating on a “half emptying” time.
#6 It Can Reduce Menstrual Discomfort
Studies have showed that ginger can be successfully used to relieve menstrual pain for women.
In one study, the ginger group took 250mg capsules four times per day for the first 3 days of their period while the other group took 400mg ibuprofen or 250mg mefenamic acid capsules for the same time period. Ginger was found to be just as effective as both other pain relief options.
#7 It Could Treat Some Forms of Cancer
Research has suggested that ginger could have a big role to play in treating certain types of cancer, including ovarian cancer.
A study carried out by the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Centre found that ginger powder had the ability to kill ovarian cancer cells. Their research involved applying a paste of ginger and water to ovarian cancer cells, all of which died as a result of the contact.
This was just an initial study and there’s still a lot more research to be done to see if ginger could be used as an effective cancer treatment in the future.
Research has also shown great potential for ginger to fight the growth of colorectal cancer cells. A study by the University of Minnesota carried out on mice found that taking gingerol three times per week slowed down the growth of these type of cancer cells so that tumours grew less quickly.
How to Use Ginger
Ginger is a pretty versatile spice and can be used in a variety of ways. Some ideas include:
- Adding small amounts of fresh ginger to smoothies and juices/shakes
- Adding a pinch or two of powdered ginger to soups, sauces and even salad dressings
- Adding 3/4 teaspoon of chopped fresh ginger to hot water to make fresh ginger tea
When you’re buying it, fresh organic ginger is your best bet. If you prefer the dried organic versions, these are generally thought to have the same benefits as fresh organic ginger.