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
- Capsular form as a supplement [i]
Common foods and drinks that incorporate ginger in their ingredient list include:
- Ginger tea
- Ginger snaps
- Ginger ale
- 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.
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.