Zesty Ginger

A versatile culinary root

Originally from Southeast Asia, ginger journeyed far and wide, reaching China, India, and eventually Rome before making its way to America. This yellowish, pungent and spicy rhizome comes in a variety of forms, including:

  • Fresh or dried
  • Extract
  • Oil
  • Pickled
  • Crystallized
  • Candied
  • Capsular form as a supplement [i]

Common foods and drinks that incorporate ginger in their ingredient list include:

  • Gingerbread
  • Ginger tea
  • Ginger snaps
  • Ginger ale
  • Soups
  • Seasoning and pairing for for seafood, chicken, meat and vegetables
  • Curry dishes [ii]

 Ginger is also vastly used as a fragrance in the cosmetic industry [iii].

 

Health and chronic disease

Ginger has climbed in popularity over the years as an herbal medicine [i]. Ginger may reduce and alleviate common health ailments including nausea and vomiting from pregnancy, chemotherapy and surgery. Ginger aids with digestion, helps reduce pain, and has potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds (gingerols, beta carotene, capsaicin, caffein acid, curcumin and salicylate) that help keep the body healthy [ii][iii]. Those with osteoarthritis, upper respiratory tract infection, and severe menstrual aches may benefit from ginger’s pain relieving compounds[iii]. People at risk for cardiovascular disease and who have diabetes may also benefit from daily consumption of ginger, within a healthy diet [iv]. Up to a tablespoon of ginger daily (around 4 grams) may help to promote good health.

 

For cancer

Cancer is a journey that progresses from diagnosis, through treatment and into survivorship. Food can play a large part in helping the patient cope through each stage, and ginger is a great contribution to the diet during this time. Insignificant, yet still intriguing, is the new research looking at a compound called 6-shogaol found in ginger, which has implications for the prevention of lung and colon cancer [v][vi]. Managing side effects of treatment can be a challenge, and ginger helps to provide relief from nausea and vomiting after chemotherapy. Try ginger teas or ginger ale to start, and see how it helps you.

Ginger has blood thinning properties. Therefore, prior to surgery, ginger or ginger supplements should not be consumed in the 2 week period of time prior to the procedure [vii].

 

Keep it fresh

Purchase and store ginger appropriately [viii].

  • Fresh is best. Avoid wrinkled and damp roots. The fresher the root, the more flavor you will acquire during cooking. Look for shiny skin with a firm feel, and smell it to make sure it has that spicy aroma reminiscent of gingerbread.
  • Store it properly. Room temperature is ok if you use it quickly, but pre-slicing it and putting it in a resealable bag within the refrigerator or freezer is your best bet for healthy, tasty ginger root.

 

Don’t miss out on our very own recipe, taking a new twist on a classic creamy dip: Supersmooth Ginger Hummus from our Meals to Heal Cookbook.

 
References
[i] Bode, A., & Dong, Z. (2011). The Amazing and Mighty Ginger. In Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects (2nd ed.). CRC Press/Taylor and Francis.
[ii] LD, M. W. (2017, September 11). Ginger: Health benefits and dietary tips. Retrieved March 03, 2018, from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/265990.php
[iii] Ginger. (2017). Retrieved March 03, 2018, from https://ww5.komen.org/BreastCancer/Ginger.html
[iv] Yu W.; Hongxia Y.; Xiulei Z.; etal. Evaluation of daily ginger consumption for the prevention of chronic diseases in adults: a cross sectional study. Nutrition. (2017) V36 Pp 79-84
[v] Hsu YL.; Hung JY.; Tsai YM.; etal. 6-shogaol, an active constituent of dietary ginger, impairs cancer development and lung metastasis by inhibiting the secretion of CC-chemokine ligand 2 (CCL2) in tumor associated dendritic cells. J Agric Food Chem (2015) 63: Pp1730-8
[vi] QJ LW.; Zhang Z.; Zhang CF.; etal. Anti-colon cancer effects of 6-shogaol through G2/M cell cycle arrest by p53/p21/cdc2/cdc25A crosstalk. Am J Chin Med (2015): 43 Pp 743-756
[vii] Ginger. (2016, June 06). Retrieved March 05, 2018, from https://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/integrative-medicine/herbs/ginger
[viii] Borah, P. (2016, April 01). Grocery Shopping Guide: How to Buy and Store Ginger. Retrieved March 03, 2018, from https://food.ndtv.com/food-drinks/grocery-shopping-guide-how-to-buy-and-store-ginger-1292930
Jessica Iannotta, MS, RD, CSO, CDN

Jessica is a registered dietitian and certified specialist in oncology nutrition (CSO). She studied nutrition at Cornell University and completed her dietetic internship at New York Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medical Center. She obtained her Master's degree through the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. Jessica has worked in inpatient and outpatient oncology settings since 2001 in the North Shore-LIJ Health System. Jessica is in charge of all operations including clinical and culinary operations ranging from menu development to evidence-based website content, relationships with registered dietitians and social workers and developing processes and protocols for intake, management and outcomes analysis of patients.

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