Certain foods seem to have it all. There are those that can be used for many other things than just cooking. Ginger is touted to be a super food because of the many benefits it offers. Aside from making dishes zesty, this spice also contributes wonderful things to the body. Recently, it’s been garnering attention for its effectiveness in helping people lose weight.
The part of the ginger plant (Zingiber Officinale) that is used medicinally and for cooking is the rhizome, or a part of the stem found underground. Ginger is highly known for its characteristic pungent aroma and strong taste. For thousands of years, it’s been used not only as a spice, but also a form of medicine.
Today it can be easily purchased at your local grocery all year round. It is also sold as a supplement, usually in the form of powder and tablets. Ginger is used in so many Asian dishes. It can complement just about any vegetable, especially when stir fried. In Western cuisine, it’s a common ingredient in certain types of breads and biscuits.
Ginger’s Potent Medicinal Properties
Ginger is a staple in traditional Chinese medicine, used for centuries for a variety of health problems – from the digestive tract, cardiovascular system, upper respiratory tract, to various aches and pains. Both fresh and dried ginger may be used, depending on the health problem being cured. Ginger is popular not only for its curative properties, but it’s also known for its ability to effectively protect the body from certain health issues.
Ginger is also classified by the Chinese as a yang food, something that generates heat within. You see, there are many dualities in nature, such as cold and hot, water and fire, dark and light, and female and male. All of these things are said to be manifestations of yin and yang. But instead of looking at these things as opposing forces, they can be thought of complementary pairs in order to achieve balance.
Going back to ginger being a yang food, it is known to be something “hot” which restores balance in the body by offsetting excess “cold”. If there’s an imbalance between the two, an Oriental healer is likely to recommend dietary changes. For instance, if a person catches a cold due to the cold weather, he or she may be given ginger for the body to generate more heat and restore internal balance. Ginger’s ability to heat up the body is said to be the reason why it aids in weight loss because it accelerates the person’s metabolism.
This super food is popularly used for many different problems concerning the digestive tract. It can provide effective relief of nausea, motion sickness and vomiting. Many also take it to attain relief from indigestion and heartburn. It’s also proven effective for excessive gas, bloating and diarrhea.
Being able to promote blood circulation is due to the fact that it is a yang food. According to studies, this spice contains terpenes and oleoresin, compounds in certain plants which help dilate the blood vessels. This action is what helps improve blood circulation. Ginger is also said to help prevent blood from clotting, so the spice may be used to stave off embolism, heart attack and stroke. Bad cholesterol levels may also be reduced, thus helping to regulate high blood pressure.
It is a natural decongestant to help people suffering from colds. Because of its anti-viral properties, it’s said to speed up recovery from colds and flu. Relief from upper respiratory tract allergies may also be attained as ginger has antihistaminic abilities. It helps expectorate phlegm, beneficial to those who are afflicted with severe cough.
Due to its strong anti-inflammatory properties, it is used to help relieve swollen muscles and joints. Naturally, ginger can also assist in dealing with the pain arthritis sufferers put up with. This is something confirmed by a study conducted at the University of Miami School of Medicine by Dr. Ray Altman. A rheumatologist and professor, Dr. Altman gave 250 people suffering from arthritis with strong ginger supplements for six weeks, and found that it helped reduce their joint pain.
It Strengthens The Body And Prevents Cellular Damage
Aside from its ability to help deal with a wide variety of health issues, ginger can also provide the body the protection it needs. It isn’t surprising why many health food stores now carry ginger supplements, commonly in the form powder and tablets. With the quality of life these days, we need all the protection we can get. Stress, busy work schedule, poor eating habits, constant exposure to environmental pollution, smoking and drinking – all these things can have a negative impact on our well-being.
Ginger can help boost the immune system. With improved functioning, the body is safeguarded against invading microorganisms. It can also help you bounce back from certain illnesses much quicker. It’s no wonder why ginger is touted as one of the most potent super spices around.
There are numerous foods that are a natural source of antioxidants. Studies have revealed that ginger has over 25 of them! Antioxidants are beneficial because they fight off free radicals, preventing healthy cells of your body from being damaged. Free radicals are linked to a wide variety of problems, from cardiovascular diseases, cancer to aging.
Ginger As An Effective Weight Loss Aid
As mentioned earlier, ginger’s ability to heat up the body can help in weight loss. Why this spice is capable of doing so effectively is because of its power to induce what’s called thermogenesis. This is a natural process wherein the body’s core temperature is elevated. With thermogenesis, burning of unwanted fat can be accelerated.
This ability of ginger to assist in weight management was revealed by a study conducted years ago, led by a Japanese researcher named L.K. Han. In this study, rats were fed with ginger extract while given a high-fat diet. Despite of the type of diet provided, it was found out that the rats still lost weight. The results obtained by these Japanese researchers were published in the Journal of the Pharmaceutical Society of Japan in 2008. Interestingly, it fortified an earlier study conducted by researchers in Kuwait, which was published in The British Journal of Nutrition in 2007.
Thermogenesis helps speed up the metabolism. This allows the body to burn calories and fat effectively for use as energy. For people who are trying to lose excess pounds or maintain their weight, taking ginger on a regular basis may prove to be beneficial. In fact, this spice has been compared to caffeine by researchers from Maastricht University in the Netherlands. However, ginger proves to be more advantageous as it doesn’t yield some of the unfavorable side effects that caffeine intake brings.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, 100 grams of ginger has 80 calories only. That’s less than 1 calorie per gram, or roughly 16 calories per tablespoon. Not only is ginger a low-calorie spice that can add more zest to certain dishes, but regular intake also helps in revving up the metabolism so weight loss becomes easier to achieve. This is especially true if the intake is combined with proper eating and regular exercising.
Incorporating Ginger Into Your Day To Day Life
Whether you want to take advantage of ginger for its numerous curative and preventive properties or weight loss contribution, there are plenty of ways to have it incorporated into your daily life. One of the easiest ways to do so is by adding it to dishes, either grated or sliced thinly. There are numerous dishes around that include this wonderful spice in their list of ingredients. Most of them are Asian ones, like stir fired noodles and stew.
It may also be added to salads, or used to make tasty dressings. There is one flavorsome salad dressing which is very easy to make. You simply have to combine 1 tablespoon of grated ginger with 3 tablespoons vegetable oil, 1 tablespoon of sesame oil, 2 tablespoons rice vinegar, 1 tablespoon soy sauce and 1/2 teaspoon sugar.
Boiling ginger in water makes for a refreshing beverage. Evidently, it’s healthier than taking coffee or any other caffeinated beverage. But ginger ale may not be for everybody because of its strong taste. If you want to sweeten the beverage, you may add sweeteners like stevia or agave nectar. Honey is also a wonderful alternative to table sugar. It is best to enjoy this beverage in the morning or afternoon. That is because ginger has invigorating effects. If you take ginger ale several hours before bedtime, you might have difficulty getting some sleep.
If you are into juicing, ginger may be added into just about any fruit or vegetable juice you like. Many find lemonade with a dash of ginger to be highly refreshing.
You may also whip up a lot of tasty baked goodies containing ginger, like cakes and tarts. Doing so allows you to enjoy magnesium, manganese, potassium, folate, and vitamins B6 and C in ginger. However, it’s also important to go for healthier baking ingredients to ensure that you’re not putting anything in your mouth that’s bad for you.
There are ginger supplements available these days. When purchasing one for yourself, ensure that it contains 100% pure ginger and nothing else. But it’s important to limit your daily intake of ginger to 4 grams daily to avoid some overdose side effects, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center, Also, you should inform your doctor about your plan on taking ginger supplements, especially if you’re taking aspirin or prescription drugs that thin the blood.