8 Health Benefits of Ginger Root (Backed by Science)
Can Ginger Really Do All That? Top 8 Health Benefits of Ginger Root
Ginger is a zesty spice that adds the perfect balance of sweet and savory to the foods we love. While it makes for a great addition to an assortment of meals and beverages, fresh ginger has a ton of powerful medicinal properties too!
With antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, ginger root offers a range of health benefits that may help our bodies fight off chronic diseases, reduce pain, control blood pressure, relieve nausea, and even provide protective effects for our immune health .
Read on to discover where raw ginger root comes from, how it compares to ginger supplements, its many health benefits, and how much you should take.
What is Ginger Root?
Ginger is a type of flowering plant that is closely related to turmeric, cardamom, and galangal. Recognized as one of the healthiest spices available, ginger has a long history of use in Asian, Indian, and Arabic herbal medicine practices.
Gingerol is one of the main bioactive compounds in raw ginger root that is responsible for providing much of its medicinal properties . This constituent is also what gives ginger its tangy, pungent flavor.
Ginger root can be used in various forms, including fresh, dried, candied, pickled, or powdered. Although, when it comes to the health benefits of ginger, it's important to mention that not all forms of ginger root have the same abundance of bioactive compounds.
Is Fresh Ginger Better than Ginger Supplements?
Before investing in a ginger supplement, it's essential to consider how it compares to raw ginger. Creating ground ginger for supplementation (i.e. packed inside ginger capsules) reduces the total amount of gingerol. As mentioned earlier, most of ginger's medicinal benefits come from gingerol!
Researchers have determined that the top three forms of ginger root containing the highest gingerol include dried, followed by fresh then powdered ginger .
Here are some easy ways to add ginger into your diet:
Chopped or grated into sauces, dressings, etc.
Sliced and added into hot water to make ginger tea
Eat ginger raw or candied
Add ginger extract or juice to smoothies
Fold dried ginger or ginger powder into baked goods
Top 8 Health Benefits of Ginger
Ginger supplementation is both a safe and effective approach to better health.
Thanks to its many anti-inflammatory effects and antioxidant properties, taking ginger is a safe and effective way to get a ton of impressive health benefits. From improving digestion to relieving chronic inflammation, fresh ginger is one of the most powerful spices that is both accessible and affordable.
Here are the top 8 most impressive health benefits of ginger.
1. Reduces symptoms of nausea and vomiting
Ginger root is an effective treatment for reducing nausea and vomiting. Prevalent in Western alternative medicine practices, ginger is commonly given to help calm an upset stomach in people prone to motion sickness, morning sickness, or certain gastrointestinal system disorders.
Gingerol is the active ingredient that is shown to help increase digestive responsiveness to help speed up stomach emptying. Dietary ginger supplementation is often recommended to alleviate nausea and vomiting during pregnancy or chemotherapy .
2. Contributes to pain relief
Ginger is recognized for having a pain-reducing effect on our bodies. The theory behind this is that ginger root provides us with salicylates, a compound that is commonly used as an analgesic and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). Our bodies transform salicylates into salicylic acid to help minimize the production of pro-inflammatory, pain-causing agents such as prostaglandins .
Ginger is effective in relieving menstrual pain, muscle soreness, and even pain caused by rheumatoid arthritis.
3. Helps with blood sugar control
Diabetes is a common chronic disease characterized by abnormally high fasting blood sugar levels. Without having enough insulin available in the bloodstream to control blood sugar, many people are at increased risk of developing heart problems.
Consuming ginger on a regular basis is shown to positively affect insulin production to help lower blood sugar levels and control symptoms of type II diabetes .
4. Improves heart health
Another great benefit of ginger is its protective effects against cardiovascular disease. Based on current literature, ginger appears to improve circulation, lower cholesterol, and decrease blood sugar levels .
Ginger helps protect from the following common heart conditions:
High blood pressure
5. Helps with weight loss
As a natural remedy for weight loss, ginger helps to decrease inflammation, stimulate digestion, and suppress appetite resulting in a lower body mass index (BMI) .
A recent 2019 review discovered a strong relationship between ginger supplementation and weight loss. Across 473 subjects classified as either being overweight or obese, ginger was proven to help significantly reduce body weight and waist-to-hip ratio .
6. Aids in digestion
As mentioned earlier on the topic of nausea, ginger also plays a fundamental role in aiding digestion. Scientific evidence has found that fresh ginger helps increase gastric motility through the digestive tract while also increasing digestive enzyme activity in the small intestine to prevent constipation .
In addition, its anti-inflammatory effects help to relieve gastrointestinal irritation, minimize symptoms of acid reflux, and reduce bloating caused by chronic indigestion.
7. Strengthens immune system
Packed with antioxidants, a compound that helps prevent oxidative stress and damage to our cells, ginger adds a layer of protection to our immune system. Together, the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of ginger root help to strengthen our immunity and protect our bodies from both chronic disease and infection .
8. Protects against certain forms of cancer
Ginger is shown to be helpful in reducing chronic inflammation within the gut that may lead to cancer. For example, those with chronic inflammatory bowel diseases such as Chron's Disease or ulcerative colitis may be at a higher risk of colon cancer.
Ginger is shown to modulate signalling molecules and other cellular growth proteins to help protect the formation of cancer cells in the gut. Effectively, ginger may be a possible method of cancer treatment for certain gastrointestinal cancers such as gastric cancer, pancreatic cancer, colorectal cancer, liver cancer, and cholangiocarcinoma .
How Much Raw Ginger Can You Eat?
Ginger is a safe and tolerable spice that can be enjoyed in all forms – from hot ginger tea to sweet ginger candies. Wellness professionals recommend 1 gram per day for pregnant women and up to 4 grams per day for the general population .
It's important to note that while there is a wide range of benefits associated with this spice, having more ginger is not always better.
With higher doses exceeding 5 grams of ginger per day, you may be at an increased risk of the following side effects :
Heartburn due to acid reflux
Speak to your healthcare provider if you're taking any type of blood-thinning medication such as warfarin, clopidogrel, or aspirin as ginger may increase the risk of bleeding .