Health Benefits of Ginger
With the cool brisk weather settling in, and the holidays fast approaching, it’s time to think about comfort foods, warm beverages and tantalizing spices. One of my favorite spices is ginger, which is popular world-wide for its tantalizing flavor. But ginger doesn’t just taste good, it’s used in various forms of traditional and alternative medicine to help fight colds and flu, aid in digestion, help reduce nausea and reduce inflammation. In fact, ginger has many health benefits and tastes wonderful – so no wonder it’s one of the first spices known to have been exported from Asia, as a valuable part of the early spice trade.
What are the health benefits of ginger?
Ginger is high in gingerol, a substance with powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Ginger may help reduce body weight, lower blood sugar levels, lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Studies also suggest it may help relieve indigestion by reducing the time it takes for your stomach to empty. According to Mayoclinic.org ginger can enhance the benefits of anti-nausea medicine, suggesting it may be best used with other medication(s) for nausea.
Ginger may even improve memory. In a 2012 study published in Evidence based study of complementary medicine, a study of healthy middle-aged women taking daily doses of ginger extract were shown to improve reaction time and working memory.
How to purchase ginger
Local farmer’s markets will sometimes have fresh ginger when in season. You can also find fresh ginger root in the produce department of most grocery stores. Although young fresh ginger may be soft enough that you won’t need to peel it first, the more mature ginger root usually found in the produce department needs to be peeled before you slice or grate it. That’s not always easy, as fresh ginger root can be quite gnarly and tough. According to many popular chefs, the best way to peel it is by scraping it with a spoon. Once peeled, you can chop, slice or grate it to add to your favorite recipes.
In the Asian section of your favorite market, you can usually find pink pickled ginger root known as Gari. This is what is served with sushi at restaurants. Young, tender ginger is preferred for commercial pickling as it usually doesn’t need peeling. Pickled ginger is naturally white, the pink color comes from added beet juice or sometimes a little food coloring.
Most often used in cooking and baking, ground ginger can be found in the baking section of most grocery stores and spice markets. You can add ground ginger to pies, breads and baked goods such as gingerbread cookies and pumpkin pie. Ground ginger can also be used in the chai tea recipe below.
Easy ginger recipes to help enjoy the health benefits of ginger
Whether you want to enjoy the health benefits of ginger, or simply want to enjoy its tantalizing flavor, be sure and add a little ginger to help spice up your life- and your health! And, if you catch a cold this winter, or simply want to warm yourself up from the inside out, why not try this lemon, honey and fresh ginger tea recipe?
1 Tablespoon freshly grated ginger
One green tea bag
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 cup boiling water
1-2 teaspoons honey, or to taste
Place the freshly grated ginger in a closable tea infuser and set it into your favorite tea cup. Next, Place the tea bag and lemon juice into the cup and fill with boiling water. Infuse the tea with the fresh ginger for a few minutes to reach your desired strength. Remove the tea bag and tea strainer and sweeten to taste with honey. Enjoy it hot.
To learn more about tea and spices, head over Dietitian on Wheels to watch a video demonstration on making the traditional Chai Tea recipe below:
6 Cardamon Seeds, bruised by pressing open with a spoon
6 whole cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
¼ tsp. ground ginger or 1 sm. piece fresh ginger peeled and sliced
4 cups water
4 tsp. black tea
1½ Tbsp. honey
¼ cup milk
Bring spices and water to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Place tea in a tea infuser and place into hot water. Add honey and simmer slightly for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, add milk, and let sit for 5 minutes. Remove cinnamon sticks, strain tea into cups and enjoy!
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