Ginger: The Spice That Does It All!

health benefits of ginger root

Delightfully spicy and aromatic, ginger root packs a powerful punch of flavor and an even more impressive list of health benefits that’ll have you talking more about it. This bit of Mother Earth can spruce up a smoothie, add zing to a dish, or infuse a soothing aroma into a cup of tea. Best of all, many scientific studies suggest that ginger adds extra nutritional value to those foods and drinks, thanks to its rich characteristics!

Ginger root is just that – the root of a plant. Its pale-colored meat inside its neutral-colored covering is the part used for both food and medicinal purposes. Fresh ginger, which has a sharp and spicy flavor, holds the most nutrients. The typical way to prepare it is by peeling the outer covering and then either shredding or dicing the pale-colored meat to use in recipes. It can be eaten raw or cooked, which gives it a mellow, woody, and slightly sweet flavor.

Ginger is also consumed for healing purposes due to its biological compounds such as gingerol, shogaol, paradol and zingerone. Traditionally, ginger has been used to alleviate nausea and stomach aches, but emerging studies suggest that this aromatic root can provide even more health benefits.

  • Anti-inflammatory properties: Ginger contains a powerful anti-inflammatory compound, called gingerol, which has helped those suffering from arthritis relieve some of their joint pains and improve their mobility to some degree.
  • Cholesterol-lowering properties: Some studies found that ginger may help lower LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
  • Blood pressure-lowering properties: Ginger can act as a blood thinner, which helps lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart diseases.
  • Anti-thrombotic (clotting) properties: Preliminary studies suggest that ginger may lower cholesterol and help prevent blood from clotting, which reduces the risks of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.
  • Antioxidant properties: Ginger contains antioxidants to counteract the damaging effects of free radicals that cause a range of diseases. Paradol, a compound found in ginger, has also been found to have antioxidant and anti-cancer properties.
  • Antimicrobial properties: Ginger is known to aid in detoxification and the reduction of bacterial infections in the body.
  • Antitumor and cancer preventive properties: Although research is still ongoing, studies found a substance abundant in fresh ginger, called 6-gingerols, which may significantly reduce pro-inflammatory molecules and provide anti-cancer nutrients.
  • Hypoglycemic properties: Ginger may help regulate blood sugar levels.

There are many positive ways in which ginger root can promote health. The extent to which these properties have a positive impact on one’s health depends on many factors. However, we do know that enjoying ginger in one’s diet has the potential to bring about positive health benefits. The key is to enjoy it in moderation.

The typical recommended amount of ginger, whether taken as a supplement or consumed in foods, is about 1 gram per day total. If you’re taking any of the following medications, it’s wise to talk to your physician before starting a supplement or regimen that includes ginger every day. Small amounts are usually not an issue, but those on medication must consider the following:

  • Blood-thinning medications: Ginger may increase the risk of bleeding. Talk to your doctor about other blood thinners, such as warfarin (Coumadin), clopidogrel (Plavix), or aspirin.
  • Diabetes medications: Ginger may lower blood sugar, increasing the risk of developing hypoglycemia or low blood sugar.
  • High blood pressure medications: Ginger may lower blood pressure, raising the risk of low blood pressure or irregular heartbeats.

Don’t let this frighten you and prevent you from enjoying ginger. Just be prudent and take good care of yourself by being attentive to how much you consume. Ginger has many positive health-promoting properties that you can benefit from, so enjoying it in moderation and balancing it with other nutrient-dense foods are important.

Bring some flare to the dinner table by tossing ginger into your next dish, warm up with a mug of ginger tea, or add a dash of ground ginger into a healthy holiday dessert. And for an extra zing in your next NutriBullet smoothie, give any of these recipes a go. With its unique flavor and powerful dose of nutrients, you might find a little extra pep in your step this month!

Registered Dietitian, Licensed Dietitian, Certified Diabetes Educator


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