You’ve relished it in a cup of hot tea, you’ve spied it on the side of your sushi plate, you’ve eaten it in everything from cookies to protein bars, and you’ve savored it in an ale.
Yes, we’re talking about ginger—that invigorating culinary herb that’s as delicious as it is nutritious. Derived from the rhizome of Zingiber officinale, an herbaceous perennial that originated in Southeast Asia, ginger is one of the most prevalent condiments—and most revered medicinal plants—in the world.
5 Health Benefits of Ginger
Here’s how the knobby plant can help you stave off everything from nausea to motion sickness—and how to weave more of it into your diet.
1. Aids digestion
Ginger contains natural phenolic compounds that have long been known to relieve gastrointestinal irritation, Medical News Daily reports, giving even greater validation to your grandmother’s suggestion to sip ginger ale when you have the flu. Additionally, the herb can help stimulate bile and saliva production (read: less tummy aggravation) and diminish stomach contractions during and after eating.†
Get it: by tossing ½ teaspoon of grated ginger into your fruit salad. The pungent herb pairs particularly well with mangoes, papayas and heart-healthy blueberries.
2. May relieve nausea during pregnancy
The Expert Review of Clinical Pharmacology is just one journal out of many that demonstrates the potential benefits of ginger for pregnant women: A study that assessed eight common remedies for nausea in pregnancy found that ginger came out tops in terms of decreasing nausea and vomiting. Similarly, ginger organically fosters relief from pregnancy-induced and post-operative nausea.†
Get it: in a cozy, relaxing tea: Boil 1 cup of water and 3 ounces of thinly-sliced ginger root in a small pot, then strain. Serve with honey for some extra oomph.
3. Naturally supports a healthy inflammatory response
We tend to deem inflammation as a negative thing, but not all inflammation is treated equally. Acute inflammation—the ability of your body to ward off infections and other harmful invaders—is a huge part of why you’re alive. (Chronic inflammation is what you want to evade.) Ginger has been shown to support this response through two of its phytochemicals, gingerols and shogaols, which “inhibit the synthesis of molecules that promote inflammation,” Alexandra Rothwell Kelly, MPH, RD, explains.†
Get it: in a quality supplement. Vitacost's Ginger Root supplies 1,100 mg of ginger per a two-capsule serving and is free of allergens such as milk, peanuts, soy and gluten.
4. Acts as a free radical scavenger
Ginger possesses what’s known as a “high oxygen radical absorbance capacity” (ORAC), which means it acts as a free radical scavenger and absorbs oxygen free radicals. Translation? The aromatic herb shields you from environmental damage. In a 2003 study published in Life Sciences, it was determined that these protective effects are due to its active phenolic constituents, 6-gingerol.
Get it: in a zesty stir-fry. Top carrots, mushrooms, bean sprouts, garlic, broccoli, and protein (fish, tofu, or humanely-raised chicken) with peeled, freshly-grated ginger.
5. Might alleviate digestive discomfort while traveling
There’s nothing more galling than planning a big trip to visit family and friends, only to be hit by gastrointestinal distress so bad it floors you. Ginger may be to the rescue: Research demonstrates that it not only helps reduce nausea (as mentioned) but it may also prevent delayed gastric emptying—precisely what you may need, as air travel, dehydration and an irregular schedule can all create one of the most common traveling complaints, constipation.†
Get it: in an ultra-warming—and simple-to-make—ginger latte. Place 1 cup almond milk, ½ teaspoon of ginger powder, ½ teaspoon of cinnamon, and 1 tablespoon of agave syrup in a pan. Cook over high heat (but don’t bring to a boil), add to a mug, and drop in a teabag of your choice (black, ginger tea or Chai tea works best). Let seep, remove—and then cheers to good health.
†These statements have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease.
Get in on the ginger action with some of these ginger-ific products available at Vitacost.com: