Ginger is a common ingredient in Asian and Indian cuisine. However, ginger has been used for its medicinal properties for centuries among many cultures.
Ginger has a long history of use for relieving digestive problems such as nausea, loss of appetite, motion sickness and pain.
The root or underground stem (rhizome) of the ginger plant can be consumed fresh, powdered, dried as a spice, in oil form or as juice. Ginger is part of the Zingiberaceae family, alongside cardamom and turmeric, and is commonly produced in India, Jamaica, Fiji, Indonesia and Australia.
This MNT Knowledge Center feature provides an in-depth look at the possible health benefits of ginger, its nutritional profile, how to incorporate more ginger into your diet and any potential health risks associated with consuming it.
Possible health benefits of ginger
Ginger has been used for its medicinal properties for centuries.
Consuming fruits and vegetables of all kinds has long been associated with a reduced risk of many lifestyle-related health conditions.
Many studies have suggested that increasing consumption of plant foods like ginger decreases the risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and overall mortality while promoting a healthy complexion and hair, increased energy and overall lower weight.
1) Digestive issues
The phenolic compounds in ginger are known to help relieve gastrointestinal irritation, stimulate saliva and bile production and suppress gastric contractions and movement of food and fluids through the GI tract.
Chewing raw ginger or drinking ginger tea is a common home remedy for nausea during cancer treatment.
Ginger tea can help relieve nausea and aid cold recovery.
Pregnant women experiencing morning sickness can safely use ginger to relieve nausea and vomiting, often in the form of ginger lozenges or candies.
During cold weather, drinking ginger tea is good way to keep warm. It is diaphoretic, which means that it promotes sweating, working to warm the body from within. As such, in the wake of a cold, ginger tea is particularly useful.
To make ginger tea at home, slice 20-40 g of fresh ginger and steep in a cup of hot water. Adding a slice of lemon or a drop of honey adds flavor and additional benefits, including vitamin C and antibacterial properties.
3) Pain reduction
A study involving 74 volunteers carried out at the University of Georgia found that daily ginger supplementation reduced exercise-induced muscle pain by 25%.
Ginger has also been found to reduce the symptoms of dysmenorrhea (severe pain during a menstrual cycle). In one study, 83% of women taking ginger capsules reported improvements in pain symptoms compared to 47% of those on placebo.
Ginger has been used for centuries to reduce inflammation and treat inflammatory conditions.
A study published in Cancer Prevention Research journal found that a ginger root supplement administered to volunteer participants reduced inflammation markers in the colon within a month. Researchers on the study explained that by decreasing inflammation, the risk of colon cancer is also likely to decrease. Ginger has also shown promise in clinical trials for treating inflammation associated with osteoarthritis.
Ginger root - the possible health benefits
In this video, Dr. Josh Axe discusses the possible health benefits of ginger root.
Ginger - nutritional profile
Using fresh ginger is an easy way to flavor foods and drinks without adding unnecessary sodium. Since it is often consumed in such small amounts, ginger does not add significant quantities of calories, carbohydrate, protein or fiber.
Ginger provides a variety of vitamins and minerals:
- Carbohydrate - 17.77 g
- Dietary Fiber - 2 g
- Protein - 1.82 g
- Dietary Fiber - 2 g
- Sugars - 1.7 g
- Sodium - 13 mg
- Vitamin B6 - 0.16 mg
- Calcium - 16 mg
- Iron - 0.6 mg
- Vitamin C - 5 mg
- Potassium - 415 mg
- Magnesium - 43 mg
- Phosphorus - 34 mg
- Zinc - 0.34 mg
- Folate - 11 mcg
- Riboflavin - 0.034 mg
- Niacin - 0.75 mg
- Iron - 0.6 mg
Figures above are per 100g of ginger.
On the next page we look at how to incorporate more ginger into your diet and the health risks associated with consuming ginger.