He ginger, a close relative and closely related to turmeric and cardamom, has a very distinctive pungent aroma. It is your cover letter. And this is mainly due to gingerol, a key compound of this plant that has powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits. It is not difficult to distinguish ginger because it has a very particular appearance: thick tubers, with asymmetrical shapes.
How to grow your own ginger at home
And taste doesn’t overlook either: spicy, slightly sweet, with a strong aroma. It can be used in the kitchen in a number of ways: fresh, dried, pickled, canned, candied, and ground, the latter one of the most commonly found on supermarket spice shelves.
Ginger is not only used to flavor food, it also carries thousands of years used as a medicinal herb to treat a variety of ailments. This is thanks to its interesting content in hundreds of compounds and metabolites.
The nine benefits of ginger
Ginger contains more of 400 different compounds, among which carbohydrates, lipids and phenolic compounds stand out. Also interesting is its content in amino acids, fiber, proteins, phytosterols, vitamins and minerals, as well as the presence of aromatic constituents, such as gingerols and shogaols, volatile essential oils that are what give it its characteristic smell and taste.
Like many other medicinal herbs, much of the information about ginger has been passed on by word of mouth, until recently with little scientific evidence to explain and support all these claims. But in recent years the scientific activity around this plant has been increasing, until now we have specific information about ginger and its different components.
Benefits that have scientific support
- AntioxidantGinger root contains high levels of antioxidants, second only to other foods such as pomegranate and some types of berries. It helps reduce the activity of free radicals, therefore, it reduces cell damage and supports healthy aging.
- Anti-inflammatory: Ginger is also credited with the ability to decrease inflammation, swelling, and pain. There have been some studies that support the effectiveness of ginger to reduce pain and stiffness in patients suffering from osteoarthritis. Raw ginger is related to anti-inflammatory and inhibitory properties of pro-inflammatory cytokine production.
- Relief from mild nausea and vomiting– One of the most common uses is to relieve vomiting and nausea related to pregnancy, chemotherapy, and some types of surgery.
- Antibacterial properties– Ginger extract can inhibit the growth of some types of bacteria such as E.coli, Staphylococci, Streptococci, and Salmonella. It is also effective against oral bacteria that cause inflammatory gum diseases, such as gingivitis and periodontitis.
- Pain relief: the tuber is rich in volatile oils that contain the active component gingerol. This anti-inflammatory compound is believed to be responsible for why people with rheumatoid arthritis feel some relief in their pain levels and improve their mobility with regular consumption of ginger.
- Helps gastrointestinal discomfort– The most popular medicinal use of ginger is to treat a troubled stomach by improving gastric emptying which, in turn, helps control stomach pain, bloating and gas.
- Improves insulin resistance and speeds up metabolism: regular intake can lower blood sugar levels, although more human studies are needed to confirm these results.
- Anticancer activity: ginger has generated great interest in the possible therapeutic applications of this root and its components for the prevention of cancer. This capacity would be related to the presence of numerous dietary and medicinal phytochemicals. For example, ginger has been studied for its efficacy in preventing the growth of various types of cancer, including lymphoma, colorectal, breast, skin, liver, and bladder.
- Cardiovascular function: Ginger has also gained interest for its potential to treat various aspects of cardiovascular disease. The anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiplatelet and hypotensive effects of this seasoning have been demonstrated in in vitro and animal data. But human trials are still inconclusive.
Better fresh than dry
The bioactive compound, gingerdiol (similar to that in hot peppers, capsaicin), is the most abundant in ginger in its fresh form. Although it has not been shown that this compound is not affected by the heat of cooking, it is recommended to use it fresh to obtain more benefits.
When it comes to buying fresh ginger, the best option is to choose the one with smooth skin, without wrinkles. At home, it is preferable to store it in a plastic bag in the fridge or freezer. It is important to peel the fresh ginger before consuming. Another option to get fresh ginger is to buy it ground.
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