We’ve all known ginger for a while, but it wasn’t until recently that we learned to herald this spice for its true greatness. Now, store shelves are complete with ginger teas, carrot-ginger soups, and ginger-teriyaki marinades. The ginger wave has hit and we couldn’t be happier.
While the universe is just now starting to celebrate the unique flavor nuances of ginger, it’s long history dates back to our ancestors. Instead of flavoring holiday cookies, early humans implemented ginger in a wide array of medicinal uses. Get to know ginger and learn why this spice is having its well-deserved moment.
This spice may seem to play second fiddle to the likes of salt, basil, and oregano in the condiment aisle, but ginger was a delicacy back in the day. Historical references depict ginger as a key ingredient in ancient Chinese health tonics.
As our ancestors emigrated west, they brought ginger along with them. Over time, ginger was used as currency. As this root made its way over the Mediterranean and toward Rome, half a kilogram was the equivalent of one sheep!
In India, ginger was ground into a paste and used to alleviate headaches. Congonese would mix ginger with mango tree sap to create a cure-all known as Tangawisi Juice. Finally, the root arrived in Jamaica. Here, natives used ginger in a mixture with palm tree sugar to fight off the flu.
Now, we can confirm what our ancestors always thought. Ginger isn’t soulless like the memes tell you. It’s actually a versatile root with many benefits. Let’s get to know ginger a bit better.
There is so much to love about this spice, so let’s dive right in! Here are five of the greatest health benefits of ginger:
What our ancestors hypothesized was confirmed by science centuries later. Ginger contains a rare group of antioxidants known as gingerols. Studies show these unique molecules negatively impact eight predominant precursors to inflammations. For one, gingerols inhibit the growth of NFκB and TNF-α. These are the top two cytokines linked to a number of autoimmune and inflammatory diseases.
Sometimes you’re on the ride and wanna get off! No need to keep the Dramamine handy when you have ginger in your pantry. A study compared the anti-nausea effects of ginger to prescription medication, Metoclopramide. Results found that 62% of those who used ginger experienced relief. Whereas, 58% of those who were administered Metoclopramide reported the same.
Seeing this headline makes gingersnaps sound that much more enticing! Research on ginger supplementation found that ginger reduces levels of “FBS, HbA1c, Apo B, Apo B/Apo A-I and MDA.” Gingerols help muscles absorb blood glucose instead of fatty adipose tissue. Therefore, you burn the calories, rather than having them store in your gut lining. Amazingly, this process doesn’t require insulin, therefore it may help control blood sugar levels.
Studies on ginger also found it increased levels of Apo A-I in test subjects. Apo A-I is a protein that plays a big role in the genetic structure of HDL cholesterol. This is the good cholesterol that keeps the bad cholesterol at bay. Therefore, ginger naturally helps lower levels of LDL cholesterol in the bloodstream.
Just when you thought ginger does it all…oh, it does way more! Ginger may help alleviate some of those cramps that make you want to curl up into a ball with your cat. A meta-analysis of 12 studies on ginger found an overwhelming number of cases boasting the benefits of using ginger for menstrual pain. 95% of those who participated in this research found 750-2000 mg ginger powder during the first four days of their menstrual cycle brought pain relief.
Not only is this root a versatile spice in terms of benefits, but ginger is also a versatile culinary tool. Here are some the best ways to up your daily ginger intake.
The advent of fire was a gamechanger for our ancestors. They learned that heating up fruits, vegetables, and roots changed the composition of the food source. By adding ginger to hot water, they created tonics that we now call teas. When we think of tea, we tend to envision leaves seeping in a bag. However, you can make your own ginger tea without the leaves. You just need hot water, lemon, ginger, and honey. This tonic is great for fighting off a cold!
Ginger can be bought in the spice aisle. However, you can do a lot with the root chillin’ in the produce section. Not only can you chop ginger up and seep for a homemade tea, but you can also grate and puree ginger.
Fresh ginger is amazing grated or purred into:
The possibilities are endless. You just need a creative mind…and a handheld grater.
>Last but not least, get baked! Not like that…we mean bake your ginger. Its unique flavor profile allows you to add ginger to anything such as:
Once you fall in love with the flavor (and benefits) of ginger, you’ll understand why this spice is having its moment!