Ginger probably is one of the healthiest spices on earth. The woody looking, striated textured, wonder spice belongs to the zingiberaceae family and is a close cousin of another potent spice, turmeric. Although it originated in China, it is widely consumed across the world in various forms owing to its aromatic, pungent, and spicy nature.
Ginger is used in a myriad of forms and ways. It is used raw, sliced, dried, powdered, as a tea concoction, fried, and cooked. The form you use should depend on the purpose you are using it for. Ginger extract and oil can also be used but with a little guide on dosage.
How to buy and store Ginger
- If possible, choose fresh ginger instead of dry. Fresh ginger has a better flavour, contains more active protease, has higher levels of gingerol, and has more anti-inflammatory properties compared to the dry variant.
- When buying fresh ginger, look for ones that are smooth, firm, and free of moulds and dents.
- If peeling ginger gets you, look for young variety in ginger. They have thinner skin that can easily come off with gentle scraping unlike mature ginger that has tougher skin.
- When buying ginger in a dried or powdered form, opt for local spice stores in your area over supermarkets because local spice stores have better quality and freshness than those on display at supermarkets. Also try looking for products that are organically grown and processed and are not irradiated.
- If the pungent odour and spicy taste of ginger are too much for you to take, you can start by using candied, pickled, or crystallized ginger and then slowly switch to the original version.
- Unpeeled fresh ginger can easily and safely be stored in the refrigerator for upto three weeks and in the freezer for almost 6 months. (You want to ensure the ginger is well sealed so it doesn’t lose its moisture!)
- Store dried/powdered ginger in an airtight container in a dark and cool place. You can also store in the refrigerator to extend its shelf life to almost a year.
- Ginger essential oil should always be sealed immediately after use and should be kept away from direct sunlight and heat at all times.
Here’s how you can use Ginger in different forms to keep fit, your body:
Freshly sliced ginger:
Scrape the brown thin skin off a piece of ginger with the help of a metal spoon and then cut thin slices. This miracle spice slice will help you:
Protect yourself against Alzheimer
Yes! Oxidative stress and inflammation can accelerate our body’s aging process. Ginger root contains high amount of antioxidants and bioactive compounds that inhibit inflammatory responses occurring in the brain. Ginger also helps enhance brain function, improve working memory and protect your brain against age related damage. Be smart to eat and you might get smarter.
Fresh ginger, as little as 1.5 Gms, can prevent nausea and retching. The nausea could be pregnancy related, sea sickness, or even chemotherapy related! What’s more, ginger has even shown to be more effective than the commonly used over-the-counter drug Dramamine in relieving gastro-intestinal stress. People suffering from severe motion sickness and experiencing dizziness, vomiting, and cold sweating along with nausea can also greatly benefit from ginger. For those who are pregnant, ginger helps even the most severe form of nausea (hyperemesis gravidum) without any significant adverse effects on pregnancy outcomes. Since anti-vomiting drugs are known to increase the chances of birth defects, ginger can be your safe go to when gagging.
Keep oral health in top shape.
Gingerol, the substance in ginger that gives it its strong flavour helps lower infections by inhibiting the growth of oral bacteria that causes inflammatory diseases such as periodontitis and gingivitis. The natural oils present in ginger even control foul breath odour and help keep gums healthy.
Ginger Oil Benefits:
Pure ginger essential oil is easily available nowadays in cosmetic stores and online. Get a bottle of this and explore a plethora of health options. Ginger oil can help you:
Relieve muscle soreness and pain.
Weight lifting, strenuous exercises or sitting for long hours at work can cause sore, torn, and painful muscles. Topically applying ginger oil on affected areas can help effectively reduce the discomfort. The anti-inflammatory properties in ginger drastically reduces progression of muscle pains and help you keep working out.
Deal with osteoarthritis.
The anti-inflammatory properties of ginger can also help osteoarthritis. This dreaded disease is known to cause degeneration of joints leading to excruciating pain and stiffness. To best help arthritis, mix ginger oil with cinnamon oil and sesame oil and apply topically on the affected area.
Combat hair woes.
Ginger is a great source of potassium, vitamins, magnesium, and phosphorus that make your hair stronger (by strengthening the roots) and shinier. It affectively helps prevent hair loss. Ginger is also known to cure dandruff, reduce dry scalp and help increase blood flow to the scalp that boost the growth of hair follicles. What’s more, the fatty acids present in ginger prevents hair thinning that indirectly curbs hair loss. Ginger is a one stop hair woes solution. Isn’t it?
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Ginger Extract Benefits:
Take a piece of ginger and grate it. Now place the grated ginger on a piece of muslin cloth, tie and squeeze to extract juice. This nonpareil substance can be used to:
Control blood sugar levels.
Gingerol, the active component of the wonder rhizome can help muscle cells absorb more glucose without using insulin. It therefore improves the long term blood sugar levels of people affected with type 2 diabetes. What’s more, spissum, present in ginger extract interact with serotonin receptors to help insulin secretion in the body. More insulin in the body automatically means reduces blood sugar levels.
Reduce bad cholesterol.
High levels of LDL lipoproteins are linked to an increased risk of heart disease. Ginger extract has been proved to lower bad cholesterol levels in the body as effectively as atorvastatin (prescribed drug for cholesterol control). The phenolic antioxidants present in ginger helps reduce total blood triglycerides too keeping your heart healthy.
Protect your eyes against cataract.
Consuming a little extract of cataract everyday (just about 4 drops) can help delay the onset as well as arrest progression of cataract. Ginger has a very low glycaemic index that helps blood sugar levels spike that causes diabetes (one of the leading causes of cataracts). Who knew ginger helps eyes!
Dried powdered Ginger Benefits:
Powdered ginger too, much like ginger’s other forms is easily available online across all major shopping portals. You can use powdered ginger to:
Significantly reduce dysmenorrhea.
All that annoying and nagging pain and cramps during a menstrual cycle can be effectively reduced with the consumption of ginger powder. You will be amazed to know that ginger is known to reduce menstrual pain as effectively as mefenamic acid and ibuprofen!
Powdered ginger, when added to food preparations can help prevent respiratory tract infections
Reduce cough bouts and mitigate chest congestion. In fact, discomfort arising from bronchitis and asthma can also be significantly reduced with consumption of ginger powder.
Ginger Tea Benefits:
1. Put 2 inches of ginger piece in a saucepan with 3 cups of water.
2. Bring the water to a boil and then simmer it till the water reduces to half.
3. Add a pinch of black tea and switch off the stove.
4. Remove the pieces of ginger and your ginger tea is ready.
5. Tip: You can use a dash of honey and lime to up its taste.
You can use this miracle potion to:
Help treat chronic indigestion.
If you suffer from recurrent pain and discomfort in the upper portion of your stomach, you might be suffering from dyspepsia. Having ginger tea helps speed up digestion and empty the stomach. Gas and pain associated with indigestion can also greatly reduce with ginger tea.
Help arrest cancer.
Ginger affectively supresses pro-inflammatory compounds such as cytokine and chemokine helping check cancer cell growth. The phytonutrients present in ginger kill ovarian cancer cells through auto phagocytosis after apoptosis. Consuming ginger tea on a regular basis can prove very beneficial for cancer patients.
Boost your immune system.
Ginger, owing to the presence of natural antibiotics in it is a potent immune system booster. It contains zingibain which dissolves parasites and their eggs and acts as a protective force for your immune system.
How to use this wonder spice in your daily diet to keep fit:
- Combine cane juice or lemon juice with a bit of grated ginger and you will up the taste of your drink while adding a bit of health.
- If plain rice bores you, garnish rice with a little finely grated ginger, sesame seeds and chopped coriander leaves.
- Use a little ginger powder in your traditional sweet preparations to add zing and taste.
- Add a small piece of ginger to your tea just when it comes to a boil for the perfect cuppa.
- Garnish your Chinese food preparations with thin ginger juliennes and fried green chillies to make it look great and taste just like it looks.
Use your own imagination and squeeze in a bit of ginger into your food preparation and watch as you become fitter.
Are there any side effects or allergies associated with ginger?
Although there are no significant side effects of consuming ginger, a few people may be allergic to it. The symptoms may range from dizziness and abdominal pain to skin rashes, face inflammation, and heart burn along with a few others. Symptoms can be mild or extreme and can show immediately after you consume or manifest a few hours after you eat. It is wise therefore to consume a very little amount of ginger to begin with and get adapted to it gradually.
If you don’t live in a place where you can easily access the spice in its fresh form, you can make do with a plethora of ginger product options available online. Products such as ginger honey, ginger powder, ginger green tea, ginger essential oil and the likes are available on Amazon and Big basket along with a host of other websites.
There you go! Resolve to use this healthy spice in your daily life and be pleasantly surprised by its abundant health benefits. The little root is worth its weight in gold.