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Ginger is among the healthiest (and most delicious) spices on the planet. It’s loaded with nutrients and bioactive compounds that have powerful benefits for your body and brain.
Here are 11 health benefits of ginger that are backed by scientific research.
1. Ginger contains gingerol, a substance with powerful medicinal properties
Ginger is a flowering plant native to China. It belongs to the Zingiberaceae family and is closely related to turmeric, cardamom, and galanga. The rhizome (underground part of the stem) is the part commonly used as a spice. It is often called ginger root, or simply ginger.
Ginger has a very long history of use in various forms of traditional/alternative medicine. It has been used to aid digestion, reduce nausea and help with flu and colds, to name a few. Ginger can be used fresh, dried, powdered, or in oil or juice form, and is sometimes added to processed foods and cosmetics. It is a very common ingredient in recipes.
Ginger’s unique fragrance and flavor come from its natural oils, the most important of which is gingerol. Gingerol is the main bioactive compound in ginger, responsible for most of its medicinal properties. It has powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects.
2. Ginger can treat many forms of nausea, especially morning sickness
Ginger appears to be very effective against nausea. For example, it has a long history of use as a remedy for seasickness, and there is evidence that it can be as effective as prescription drugs.
Ginger can also relieve nausea and vomiting after surgery and in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. But it may be most effective for pregnancy-related nausea, such as morning sickness. However, ginger had no effect on vomiting episodes in this study. Some believe that large amounts may increase the risk of miscarriage, but there are currently no studies to support this.
3. Ginger can reduce and soreness
Ginger has been shown to be effective against exercise-induced muscle pain. In one study, consuming 2 grams of ginger per day for 11 days significantly reduced muscle pain in people performing elbow exercises. Ginger has no immediate impact, but may be effective in reducing the daily progression of muscle pain. These effects are thought to be mediated by anti-inflammatory properties.
Ginger appears to be effective in reducing the daily progression of muscle pain and may reduce exercise-induced muscle pain.
4. Anti-inflammatory effects may help treat osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis is a common health problem.
It involves degeneration of the body’s joints, leading to symptoms such as joint pain and stiffness. In a controlled trial of 247 people with osteoarthritis of the knee, those who took ginger extract had less pain and needed less pain medication
Another study found that a combination of ginger, mastic, cinnamon, and sesame oil can reduce pain and stiffness in patients with osteoarthritis when applied topically
5. Ginger can significantly reduce blood sugar and improve risk factors for heart disease
This is a relatively new area of research, but ginger may have powerful anti-diabetic properties. In a recent 2015 study of 41 participants with type 2 diabetes, 2 grams of ginger powder per day reduced fasting blood sugar by 12%. It also significantly improved HbA1c (a marker of long-term blood glucose), resulting in a 10% reduction over a 12-week period.
6. Ginger can help treat chronic
Chronic indigestion (dyspepsia) is characterized by recurrent pain and discomfort in the upper stomach. Delayed emptying of the stomach is thought to be a major factor in indigestion. Interestingly, ginger accelerated the emptying of the stomach in people with this condition.
After eating soup, ginger reduced the time it took for the stomach to empty from 16 to 12 minutes. In a study of 24 healthy people, 1.2 grams of ginger powder before a meal accelerated stomach emptying by 50%. Ginger appears to speed up emptying of the stomach, which may be beneficial for people suffering from indigestion and gastric discomfort.
7. Ginger powder can significantly reduce menstrual pain
Menstrual pain (dysmenorrhea) refers to the pain experienced during a woman’s menstrual cycle. One of the traditional uses of ginger is pain relief, including menstrual pain. In one study, 150 women were asked to take 1 gram of ginger powder per day, during the first 3 days of the menstrual period. Ginger was able to reduce pain more effectively than the drugs mefenamic acid and ibuprofen.
8. Ginger can lower cholesterol levels
High levels of LDL lipoproteins (the “bad” cholesterol) are linked to an increased risk of heart disease. The foods you eat can have a strong influence on LDL levels. In a 45-day study of 85 people with high cholesterol, 3 grams of ginger powder caused significant reductions in most cholesterol markers. This is supported by a study in hypothyroid rats, where ginger extract lowered LDL cholesterol to a similar extent to the cholesterol-lowering drug atorvastatin.
Both studies also showed reductions in total cholesterol and blood triglycerides. There is evidence in both animals and humans that ginger can produce significant reductions in LDL cholesterol and blood triglyceride levels.