The health benefits of ginger include treating nausea, easing menstrual cramps, regulating blood sugar levels, and relieving indigestion.
Ginger also has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which can prevent cell damage and help ward off chronic disease.
You can add ginger to tea or stir-fries, but you should not consume more than one gram per day.
Ginger is a plant that has been used to treat ailments for thousands of years. Not only is ginger a delicious addition to cooking because of its spicy and unique flavor, but it's also great for your health.
Here are six health benefits of ginger and how to add it to your diet.
1. Ginger has antioxidants, which prevent cell damage
Ginger root has one of the highest levels of antioxidants compared to other foods, says Chika Anekwe, MD, MPH, an obesity medicine physician at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. Only pomegranates and other antioxidant-rich berries surpass it.
Antioxidants prevent oxidative stress, a process that is associated with diseases like cancer, diabetes, and stroke. Oxidative stress occurs when there are too many free radicals — molecules naturally produced by metabolic processes — in the body. Antioxidants stabilize free radicals and prevent oxidative stress, thereby protecting the body from disease.
A small 2017 study tested the antioxidant effects of ginger in cancer patients receiving chemotherapy. Those who received a daily ginger extract had higher levels of antioxidants and lower levels of oxidative stress than the placebo group.
2. Ginger acts as an anti-inflammatory
Ginger also acts as an anti-inflammatory thanks to its antioxidant properties. An excess of free radicals can cause inflammation — your body's natural immune response to harmful foreign objects.
Typically, inflammation goes away once your body repairs itself. But, when you're experiencing oxidative stress, it can cause chronic inflammation. This causes your body to damage healthy cells, tissues, and organs. Chronic inflammation may lead to diseases like heart attacks or chronic pain like arthritis.
A large 2001 study conducted in patients with osteoarthritis in the knee found that 63% of those who took ginger extract twice daily for six weeks saw reduced knee pain due to inflammation, compared to 50% for the control group.
3. Ginger treats nausea
One of the most well-established benefits of ginger is helping symptoms of nausea and vomiting.
Ginger contains a compound called gingerol. Gingerol is known for improving gastric motility — the passage of food through the body — and suppressing muscle spasms. This can help settle the stomach and reduce symptoms of nausea and vomiting.
Ginger is also a safe and effective herbal remedy for pregnant women with morning sickness. A small 2009 study tested the effectiveness of ginger capsules on pregnant women experiencing nausea and vomiting. Pregnant women who took four 250mg ginger capsules daily for four days experienced less nausea and less vomiting than women who received a placebo.
4. Ginger eases menstrual pains
Ginger can also act as a remedy for menstrual cramps. Ginger, suppresses the production of chemicals that make your uterus contract, causing pain.
In a 2015 study, scientists reviewed previous research looking at the effects of ginger on menstrual pains and concluded that 750 to 2000mg of ginger powder can help relieve pain during the first three to four days of the menstrual cycle.
5. Ginger may regulate blood sugar levels
6. Ginger may treat indigestion
Ginger stimulates digestive enzymes responsible for moving food through the body more quickly, which prevents gas. "[It] helps the body break down gas and get rid of gas more effectively," Ankewe says.
A small 2008 study in a European journal tested the effects of ginger on healthy people. Researchers concluded that taking three 1,200 mg ginger capsules sped up gastric emptying — the process where food leaves the stomach and enters the small intestine — and encouraged more antral contractions, which are necessary for breaking up and digesting food.
How to add ginger to your diet
According to Anekwe, you can easily incorporate ginger into your diet by:
Adding a few pieces of fresh ginger to hot water to make tea
Adding finely chopped fresh ginger or powdered ginger to curries or stir-fries
Mixing a bit of ginger into your morning smoothie
Baking cookies, cakes, or pastries with ginger
If you don't like the taste of ginger, you can buy ginger capsules from your local pharmacy. While ginger is very safe, it is best not to consume more than one gram of ginger a day, or you may experience throat burn, heartburn, or gas.
The bottom line
Ginger is an effective herbal remedy for many ailments, including nausea, vomiting, pain, and indigestion because of its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. You can add a few grams of ginger to your diet each day to achieve these health benefits safely.
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