Many foods get labelled “superfoods” and it can be difficult to figure out which ones have the potential to improve health and which have no proven benefits.
But if you’re going to give that label to something, one of the better candidates might just be ginger.
It has a number of benefits backed up by scientific research, ranging from alleviating nausea to helping keep your heart healthy.
Ginger has very few potential risks and can be easily incorporated into everyday meals as an ingredient in a wide range of recipes.
In this article we’re going to take a look at what ginger is, what it does, and what the risks associated with it are.
What Is Ginger?
Ginger is a flowering plant native to Southeast Asia.
It’s part of the zingiberaceae family, related to both turmeric and cardamom.
It’s been used as a spice and thought to have health benefits for centuries, and modern science has confirmed the potential for ginger to be helpful to a variety of health conditions.
The most commonly used part of the plant is the underground portion of the stem, called the rhizome and often referred to as ginger root.
It can be eaten fresh, dried, powdered, as an oil or juice, or even candied.
Nutritional Benefits Of Ginger
Ginger contains very few calories, only four in two teaspoons of powdered ginger.
It also provides very little in the way of vitamins, minerals, or other nutrients.
But that’s not to say it’s without its benefits in other areas.
Health Benefits Of Ginger
There are benefits to ginger far beyond the paltry nutritional benefits that it yields.
It has been used as a natural remedy for centuries, and for good reason.
Here are six of the ways that ginger may help to improve your health.
1. It’s Good For Nausea
You may have heard of ginger helping if you’re experiencing nausea, and this study shows that there is a scientific basis for those claims.
It showed that ginger was an effective treatment for nausea and in people suffering from morning sickness related to pregnancy, and for people suffering nausea as a side effect of chemotherapy.
2. It Can Help You Lose Weight
Obesity is a complex and often frustrating health issue and finding solutions can be difficult.
Ginger may be a helpful food to add to your diet to help manage obesity.
In 2018, this research study showed that ginger may exhibit anti-obesity effects.
The mechanism by which it does this is unknown, though it’s thought to be linked to ginger aiding in faster calorie burning and reduced inflammation.
It has been shown to help reduce obesity in both human and animal trials, and is a low cost, low risk option to try for managing your weight.
3. It Can Reduce Your Risk Of Heart Disease
Ginger may help mitigate some of the risk factors for heart disease.
It has been shown to be a potential treatment for cardiovascular disease, as it may be able to help lower blood sugar levels and increase hemoglobin levels, both of which are beneficial to cardiovascular health.
Additionally, several studies have shown that ginger can help lower blood cholesterol levels, which can prevent plaque buildup in blood vessels and reduce the risk of heart disease.
4. It’s A Powerful Antioxidant
Antioxidants help protect the cells of the body from free radicals, substances produced during normal metabolism that can cause harm to the cells over time.
Chemotherapy to treat cancer can cause oxidative stress to the body, which means that more free radicals are produced, and having antioxidants becomes more important.
In patients undergoing chemotherapy, taking ginger three days before treatment helped to increase the body’s antioxidant activity, and reduce levels of oxidative markers.
If you are undergoing treatment that may increase the potential for free radicals to do damage to your body, ginger’s antioxidant properties may help to mitigate that damage.
5. It Can Relieve The Symptoms Of Arthritis
Osteoarthritis is caused by a breakdown of the cartilage lining your joints from wear and tear over time.
Both types of arthritis can lead to swelling, joint pain, loss of mobility, and bone damage.
Ginger’s anti-inflammatory properties have been shown to help reduce swelling in patients with rheumatoid arthritis, according to a 2014 study in the journal Arthritis.
As well, a 2001 study showed that ginger extract has moderate positive effects on knee pain caused by osteoarthritis.
6. It Can Reduce Pain From Menstruation
Menstrual pain can range in severity, but affects many people to some degree.
Dysmenorrhea is the medical term for lower abdominal or pelvic pain that occurs before or during menstruation, and can be accompanied by lower back pain, nausea, and vomiting.
Oral consumption of ginger was shown by this study to help improve menstrual pain in people suffering from dysmenorrhea.
While additional research is required to confirm these findings, ginger may be a promising option for those suffering from pain caused by menstruation.
Are There Any Risks Of Ginger?
The adverse effects of ginger are quite rare, and when they do occur quite mild.
In rare cases eating ginger may lead to mild gastrointestinal symptoms, but this has been shown not to be significantly more common in those who do take ginger than in a control group.
Overall, ginger is unlikely to have a negative effect when taken orally, and has the potential to be helpful to people suffering from various health conditions.
Book An Appointment With Annex Naturopathic
Ginger can be a good thing to try when dealing with the health issues presented in this article, but it likely won’t provide a complete solution.
Navigating health concerns can be complicated and challenging, and Annex Naturopathic Clinic can help make it easier.
Book an appointment with Annex Naturopathic to get the help you need to find naturopathic treatments for your health concerns.
Yours in Health,
Dr. Marnie Luck, N.D
Annex Naturopathic Clinic is a clinic in Toronto that offers integrative healthcare solutions from Drs. Marnie Luck, ND, and Tanya Lee, ND