We asked Jolene to share a refresher on the benefits of ginger, one of our favorite wellness ingredients of all time, prized throughout the world for it’s unique flavor and potent spice. Even when it comes to the healthy ingredients we love most, sometimes we all need a reminder of just how potent these superfoods can be! Add this super-root to your shopping cart or market bag this week and watch for Jolene’s apple-ginger fritter recipe later this week!
Ginger 101: The Health Benefits of Ginger
The word ginger means spirit, liveliness, or verve — reminders of the heating, stimulating benefits of ginger root for our bodies and our palates.
Ginger delivers major yang energy: fiery, circulation-boosting, and grounding.
Like its relative turmeric, ginger grows as an underground stem called a rhizome and is prized for its potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. So potent, in fact, that numerous studies have demonstrated ginger to be as effective as NSAIDs like ibuprofen and naproxen in reducing inflammation and pain.
One study found ginger (at 4 daily doses of 250 mg ginger capsules) to significantly reduce menstrual pain. Another found 1500 mg of ginger powder daily to improve rheumatoid arthritis symptoms. And yet another found ginger supplementation to cause significant overall reductions of inflammation and oxidative stress (hello, slowed aging!).
Ginger’s 400+ bioactive compounds (the most famous is gingerol— a relative of capsaicin and piperine in peppers) give it promising cancer-preventative effects, shown in research to offer benefits against GI-related cancers like colorectal, pancreatic, and liver as well as breast and ovarian cancers.
Day-to-day, its most well-known traditional use is in alleviating nausea and GI discomfort, well-proven in studies. Ginger relaxes muscles of the digestive tract, increases gastric secretions, and speeds up digestion to ease nausea, indigestion and bloating.
Ginger has been proven to reduce morning sickness in pregnancy and work as well as Dramamine in easing nausea and vomiting.
Notably, ginger has also been shown to improve attention and cognitive processing in otherwise healthy middle-aged women who consumed it daily.
During cold and flu season, ginger offers preventative effects against some viruses by making it harder for viruses to attach to mucosal cells, like those in the nose and throat.
Although some practitioners may recommend avoiding ginger during the summer months due to its stimulating and heating nature, I don’t agree (after all, ginger is native to a tropical climate). In Ayurveda, ginger is known to pacify or reduce vata and kapha in the body but aggravate pitta, a reminder that it’s important to consider your body type in addition to the season when deciding when and how to include ginger in your diet. Too much ginger can irritate mucus membranes and cause loose stools and heartburn.
How To Uses Ginger In Your Diet
My favorite way to store fresh ginger is to thoroughly scrub the root (break it apart if needed to clean between any tight spots), dry it completely, then place it in a storage container in your freezer. Use a microplane grater or zester to add fresh ginger root into meals and drinks, straight from the freezer. It’s not necessary to remove ginger’s thin, papery skin unless you prefer to for aesthetic reasons.
Here are classic TCM recipes using ginger to try soon…
Grate fresh ginger into tea, smoothies, overnight oats, stir fries and broths. I especially love ginger in the apple fritters recipe I’m sharing later this week from my new book, Ignite Your Light.
What’s your favorite way to use ginger? Drop your favorite recipe or idea in the comments!